08 Mar Premier League lookahead: Are Chelsea on the mend or will the faltering Foxes bite back?
Life at Chelsea for Graham Potter has not been easy since he took charge of the club last September but after a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday – a win which cements the club’s spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League – the Blues boss will feel much happier than he did a week ago.
Preceding that win over Dortmund was a narrow yet extremely important 1-0 victory over Leeds in the Premier League, and Chelsea will now head into this weekend’s round of top-flight fixtures with a decent amount of momentum behind them following a dismal period of games which yielded just one win in 11 across all competitions.
Potter will know that there is still a huge amount of work to be done and that two victories over clubs you would expect the free-spending Chelsea to defeat will not exactly cut the mustard with the west London outfit’s somewhat volatile supporter base and hierarchy, though it does provide him with a decent launchpad.
This weekend’s fixture against Leicester is seismic and anything other than three points will be wholeheartedly unaccepted by everyone involved with the club who currently sit bang-slap in mid-table. The Foxes have endured a tumultuous campaign to date and currently sit just two points above the relegation zone after losing to strugglers Southampton last weekend.
That defeat at St Mary’s made it four on the spin for Brendan Rodgers’ men and they have now only won one of their previous six home matches in the Premier League. That solitary victory did come courtesy of a resounding performance over top-four contenders Tottenham, however, when they thrashed the north Londoners 4-1 at the King Power.
Such a victory offers a huge degree of complexity when assessing Leicester and their consistently inconsistent form. The Foxes do have the capabilities to pick up really promising results against the division’s top teams and do have a squad which on paper is packed full of high-class talent.
Too often, though, they appear overly reliant on the brilliant yet injury prone James Maddison and when he is not present on the pitch they look completely directionless and devoid of any creative flair.
Saturday’s game serves up the perfect chance for Leicester to bounce back from their latest disappointment against a Chelsea side who themselves have looked majorly out of sorts in recent weeks.
For Potter and his new-found band of superstars, will this timely fixture contribute towards their as of yet mini-resurgence, or will their recent results just prove to be a flash in the plan leading to another severe case of the Blues?
Elsewhere in England’s top tier, Manchester United will look to put their recent humiliation at Anfield behind them when they welcome second-from-bottom Southampton to Old Trafford.
Erik ten Hag will feel as though this is the perfect fixture for his team after Sunday’s shambolic 7-0 drubbing due to how poor the Saints have performed this season but the game is anything but a foregone conclusion, with the visitors heading into the bout on the back of a confidence-boosting victory over Leicester.
Table-toppers Arsenal form one half of an all-London affair on Sunday when they go up against a Fulham side gunning for Europe, whilst chasers City make the journey down to the capital to face perennial banana skin distributors Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park – the stakes for both teams could not be any higher with five points currently separating them at the summit.
Premier League fixtures in full
Saturday 11th March
AFC Bournemouth 12:30 Liverpool
Everton 15:00 Brentford
Leeds United 15:00 Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester City 15:00 Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur 15:00 Nottingham Forest
Crystal Palace 17:30 Manchester City
Sunday 12th March
Fulham 14:00 Arsenal
Manchester United 14:00 Southampton
West Ham United 14:00 Aston Villa
Newcastle United 16:30 Wolverhampton Wanderers