Wes Morgan

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PL Preview: Chelsea vs. Leicester City

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  • Chelsea has beaten Leicester in 12 of their last 14 meetings
  • Leicester City has lost five straight road games vs. Top 6
  • Marcos Alonso‘s 12 PL goals over the last 2 seasons are more than any defender

The battle for second place is on, and Chelsea will want to hold serve at home as they host Leicester City at 10:00 a.m. ET at Stamford Bridge live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Antonio Conte has fallen under some fire this season with Chelsea back in third place in the Premier League, but they’ve closed the gap on Manchester United and sit just a point behind the second spot. Still, with the Blues having drawn three straight matches, they will look to get back to winning ways.

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Meanwhile, Leicester City is struggling mightily, with a 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town their only three points since December 13th. They failed to find the back of the net against League One side Fleetwood Town during their midweek FA Cup matchup, although the side fielded was a relatively weak one without the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. The former should be ready for this match after sitting out for a week with a groin problem, while Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson continue to sit with hamstring problems, part of the reason why the club has coughed up nine goals in its last five matches, and has just two clean sheets since late October.

INJURIES: Chelsea — QUESTIONABLE: Ross Barkley | Leicester City — OUT: Wes Morgan (hamstring), Danny Simpson (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: Robert Huth (ankle), Jamie Vardy (groin).


What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on not pursuing Jamie Vardy: “We didn’t speak about him, but I repeat we are talking about a really good player. For sure Vardy is a really good player and I don’t like to speak about players of other teams, but in this case we are not talking about transfer market.”

Leicester City manager Claude Puel on playing big clubs: “I think in our games against the great teams, we have always had good situations and good possibilities – like against Manchester United and Tottenham. The ambition is not just for us to score but to continue to play after scoring and to always keep good ambition in our play.”

Prediction

How about this for a nugget? Antonio Conte has won 25 of his first 30 home games in charge of Chelsea, a joint club record with Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. Both of those managers lost their 31st game (thanks Opta!). Just on that alone, Leicester City wins 2-1, and Jamie Vardy scores the winner. Conte is berated for his tactics, but in reality, the club’s lack of midfield depth is to blame, as Tiemoue Bakayoko is still learning the Premier League ropes.

Transfer needs for all 20 Premier League clubs

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
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Everyone could use a Harry Kane or N'Golo Kante, so we’ll try to avoid saying each side could improve at center midfield or striker unless it’s almost absolutely the *case.

[ ARSENAL-CHELSEA: 4 things | Player ratings ]

*Pretty much everyone really could use a striker. Apologies in advance.

Arsenal

Jack Wilshere‘s return to form and fitness helps their center midfield, but Arsene Wenger seemingly hasn’t found his answer in the middle of the park whether the addition of Mohamed Elneny in the past or Granit Xhaka this season. Laurent Koscielny‘s surprising recent struggles also show just how few answers the club has behind him at center back.

Bournemouth

Need to find that leading scorer either Jermain Defoe or Joshua King was supposed to be, or find the playmaker who puts them in position to start burying goals again.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Offensive players of any kind, as the league’s worst offense has allowed teams to focus on Pascal Gross.

Burnley

A versatile midfielder who can play centrally or on the left would solve multiple problems. Center back insurance would help, too.

Chelsea

Cheekily, we’d suggest bringing some of its many stars back from loan, as Kurt Zouma (Stoke) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace) have been mighty influential at their clubs. It’s more about personage than positions with Chelsea, as Alex Sandro of Juventus has been mentioned often. Will Ross Barkley change his mind about the Blues, or vice versa?

Crystal Palace

Still need an answer at striker behind Christian Benteke and Bakary Sako, and the injuries to Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon mean they could use help essentially everywhere.

Everton

The Toffees have made no secret of their need for a finishing center forward. No other team needs a positional upgrade more than Everton at CF.

Huddersfield Town

An upgrade at center back seems the prime need for David Wagner‘s men.

Leicester City

A center back to pair with Harry Maguire, and depth down the right side. Both become secondary to playmaker if Riyad Mahrez leaves the King Power Stadium.

Wes Morgan and Robert Huth (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Liverpool

Virgil Van Dijk solves a lot, but the club could stand to upgrade the position beyond him and Joel Matip. Instead, Jurgen Klopp might buy more attackers. An alternative to Jordan Henderson would be nice, but would also be superfluous with Naby Keita arriving in the summer.

Manchester City

Center forward depth in the short-term with Gabriel Jesus injured, and left back cover might be on Guardiola’s mind. Another center back seems likely to arrive this month or this summer.

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho could add anywhere outside of goalkeeper and his attacking trident. Left back remains a priority, especially if he sells Luke Shaw.

Newcastle United

The Magpies need a more effective Premier League striker than Joselu or Dwight Gayle, an improved left back, and a box-to-box center midfielder. Rafa Benitez will reportedly hunt for a goalkeeper, too.

Southampton

Still need a center back, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mauricio Pellegrino attempt to find a solution for any spot besides the one occupied by Oriol Romeu.

Stoke City

The Potters have allowed a league-worst 47 goals, and it’d be worse without Jack Butland. A left back is needed, as is either a defensive mid or right back depending on where they want to deploy Geoff Cameron (which means they also could use cover for both in case injury).

Swansea City

With a new manager you can pick a position, and Swans may want to improve it. The priority will be players who can produce goals, as Fernando Llorente and Gylfi Sigurdsson were not adequately replaced.

Tottenham Hotspur

Another winger? Spurs may have the least amount of needs in the league outside of Man City.

Watford

Full backs might be top of the list.

West Bromwich Albion

The Baggies have to find a better way to utilize big forward Salomon Rondon, who is quite gifted. Maybe it’s a partner striker, maybe a playmaker.

West Ham United

Up the middle, besides forward. The Hammers will look to address center back and center midfield. They are alright out wide and across the top.

Leicester 3-0 Huddersfield: Algerian duo tames the Terriers

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The Foxes were without one of the team’s most important attacking figures on Monday, but Jamie Vardy‘s absence didn’t appear to hinder Leicester as the former Premier League champions cruised to victory.

[ MORE: Stunning Mahrez volley gives Leicester lead ]

Leicester picked up its first win of the new year, a 3-0 decision over Huddersfield at the King Power Stadium, behind goals from Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Marc Albrighton.

Mahrez got the party started for Leicester in the 53rd minute when he brilliantly volleyed home a floated through ball from Marc Albrighton. The goal is Mahrez’s seventh of the PL campaign.

Then, fellow countryman Slimani doubled the Foxes advantage in spectacular fashion when the striker — who started over Vardy on Monday — chipped the ball over goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.

Albrighton tacked on a third goal for Leicester late on to completely extinguish Huddersfield’s chances of a comeback.

It was a less than ideal start for the Foxes, as Wes Morgan went off injured inside the opening 20 minutes. Aleksandar Dragovic came in to replace the injured Leicester captain.

Despite a relatively tame first half, there was a contentious moment after Morgan’s injury when Harry Maguire went down inside the Huddersfield area.

However, there was no decision by the referee, and Wilfred Ndidi’s ensuing effort for the Foxes missed just wide of the goal.

Leicester 2-1 Tottenham: Foxes stun Spurs

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  • Kane has 41 goals in 40 games in 2017
  • Vardy, Mahrez score stunning goals
  • Eriksen, Llorente miss sitters
  • Spurs with one win in last five PL games

Leicester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday to all but end Spurs’ faint hopes of wining the Premier League title.

Two stunning first half goals set Leicester on their way with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez putting the Foxes 2-0 up at half time. Harry Kane (who else?) pulled one back with just over 10 minutes to go to set up a tense finish but both Christian Eriksen and Fernando Llorente missed glorious chances as Spurs slipped up once again.

With the win Claude Puel‘s Leicester rose to ninth place and have 17 points, while Spurs are in fifth on 24 points and are now 13 points off leaders Manchester City who also have a game in hand.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leicester started well and Danny Rose cleared Wes Morgan‘s header off the line, while at the other end Spurs went close with Rose causing plenty of problems down the left.

Vardy then lobbed Leicester into the lead with a fantastic finish as Marc Albrighton‘s cross found him on the edge of the box and he lifted the ball over Lloris and into the net. 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Spurs responded well to going behind as Moussa Sissoko raced free but Kasper Schmeichel smothered his effort and the ball looped towards the goal but Vicente Iborra cleared off the line.

Kane then cut inside and curled a shot just over the bar as Spurs continued to search for an equalizer and he went even closer soon after. Dele Alli had a shot saved by Schmeichel and he then had a follow-up which Kane, in an offside position, left as the ball squirmed agonizingly wide.

Right on half time Leicester doubled their lead with a simply stunning goal. Mahrez cut in from the right flank, jinxed past three Tottenham players and curled an unstoppable effort into the far top corner to make it 2-0.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Spurs failed to generate many clear-cut chances at the start of the second half with Davinson Sanchez’s header almost turned in by Alli as Leicester started to sit back deeper.

Leicester were dangerous on the break as Vardy raced clear but Jan Vertonghen did well to recover and clear the danger with a last-ditch tackle.

Christian Eriksen missed a glorious chance at the other end as from five yards out the ball came to unexpectedly and he skewed his effort wide when he was off balance.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Kane did pull one back from with an emphatic finish as he drilled home at the near post as substitute Erik Lamela made the goal on his return to action after 13 months out with a head injury. 2-1.

Substitute Fernando Llorente then got it all wrong with Serge Aurier whipping in a great cross but the Spaniard prodded over from close range with the goal gaping.

Schmeichel made a brave stop late on to deny Kane an equalizer as the Englishman came flying in to try and get on the end of an Aurier cross.

Rose went down in the box late on claiming a penalty kick after he looked to be caught by Wilfried Ndidi but nothing was given and Leicester held on for a huge win.

Leicester City 2-0 Everton: Puel wins debut

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  • Puel wins first PL start
  • Gray boasts MOTM performance
  • Vardy scores

Jamie Vardy‘s counter attack goal led the way as new Leicester City boss Claude Puel oversaw a 2-0 win in his debut at King Power Stadium on Sunday.

Demarai Gray also scored with big help from Everton’s Jonjoe Kenny as Leicester rose 11th with 12 points, keeping Everton in the drop zone on goal differential.

Everton caretaker boss David Unsworth kept Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin out of the Starting XI, only using the Icelandic star as a 74th minute substitute.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leicester won an early corner, and another when Ashley Williams blocked Wes Morgan‘s back post effort.

Demarai Gray then cut back from the end line for Ben Chilwell inside the 18, but a difficult shot couldn’t be kept under the bar.

The Foxes deservedly went ahead with a goal hearkening back to the glory days of 2016-17. Puel watched his new charges counter a free kick through Gray, who cued up a classic Riyad Mahrez to Vardy connection. 1-0, 19′.

Vardy mishit an effort to return the favor three minutes later, and Everton nearly found an equalizer when Wayne Rooney and Aaron Lennon cued up a chance that Dominic Calvert-Lewin flubbed.

Jonjoe Kenny helped make it 2-0 when he making a mess of Gray’s cross to defy the reach of Jordan Pickford. For some reason, it was not ruled an own goal.

The Toffees were denied a sure penalty when Christian Fuchs chopped down Lennon inside the 18, but no call came from Andre Marriner nor his linesman.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Rooney should’ve had a second assist when his delightful ball found Oumar Niasse, but a poor touch helped Kasper Schmeichel collect.

Calvert-Lewin produced an inviting ball in the 65th minute, but Wes Morgan popped it over his own bar.

Follow @NicholasMendola