Maurizio Sarri has righted the Chelsea ship, and he could deploy another strikerless lineup as the Blues host Leicester City Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET live on CNBC or live online at NBCSports.com.
Chelsea will likely have Alvaro Morata back from a knee injury which left the Blues to play Eden Hazard up front as a false nine last weekend in a 2-1 win over Brighton, but speculation persists that Sarri will name an unchanged lineup, leaving the Belgian playmaker again up top.
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Olivier Giroud is also available, and the Frenchman came on as a late substitute for Hazard in the Brighton win, but despite having two true strikers at his disposal, Sarri may decide to leave both on the sideline. Chelsea lost two of three in league play earlier this month, but a pair of wins – including a win over juggernauts Man City – has seen the Blues hold Arsenal off for fourth in the league table.
For Leicester, Jamie Vardy is back from an injury and could return to the Foxes’ lineup despite comments midweek that claimed Claude Puel‘s tactics do not play to his strengths. Ben Chilwell is also back from a knee injury and could make an appearance, while Wilfried Ndidi is out with his own knee injury.
The Foxes have won just once over their last six matches dating back to November 10, and with a match against Manchester City set to follow this at Stamford Bridge, the noise regarding Puel’s job security threatens to rise to a dull roar. With games against Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham all in succession in late January, points are at a premium over the festive period for Leicester.
What they’re saying
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on playing over Christmas: “We have to play every three days, so there is no Christmas for us. It depends only on the match. If the match is in the evening, we can stay at home the evening before. If the match is at 3 p.m. or 1 p.m., we will go to the hotel, as usual. I like more to play football. I am lucky — in Serie B in Italy, we played over Christmas and I liked it very much. In the Italian stadia, there was a wonderful atmosphere.”
Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy on Puel’s tactics: “No [they do not suit me], but is that down to me to adapt to it? Yes. And obviously the only way I’m going to do that and keep progressing is working hard on the training field.”
Striker or not, Sarri has Chelsea at his fingertips, and the Blues are fully prepared for a match against a Leicester City side that could rotate players with the festive period coming up. Especially with Morata available off the bench, the Foxes won’t be able to keep the Chelsea attack at bay, with a 3-0 win not flattering the Blues at all.