Chelsea v Leicester betting: Back the Blues to wreak immediate revenge on a jubilant Foxes
The closer you look at Chelsea’s circumstances as they prepare for the defining final week of this Premier League season, the more it becomes apparent just how costly their recent loss to Arsenal was.
No longer do Thomas Tuchel’s side have any form of a cushion with Liverpool breathing down their neck and barring the perfect combination of results mid-week the Blues must now go full strength twice-over ahead of their momentous Champions League final against Manchester City.
For the German this is anything but ideal and it is especially problematic when a comparison is made with Pep Guardiola’s preparations. With the title sewn up, the Catalan has the luxury of giving players sixty minutes here and there against Brighton and Everton, ensuring fresher legs for Portugal. Chelsea meanwhile must go full tilt, risking injury, risking fatigue.
Only time will tell how disadvantageous this will prove. But it is disadvantageous, nonetheless.
Still, it is what it is, the Arsenal defeat happened, and Tuchel’s more pressing concern right now is to secure a top four spot so their European aspirations next year are not dependent on victory in Porto.
Which makes it a cruel twist of fate that the first of their must-win games is against Leicester, only a matter of days after the Foxes beat them at Wembley, and it’s a rare and fascinating phenomenon that pits two sides together so soon after a cup final, one that throws up all manner of questions.
Will Tuchel have learned anything from the painful result, spying first-hand a potential glitch in the Leicester matrix that perhaps was not fully capitalized on last Saturday? Will the Foxes head to the Bridge with a significant psychological gain or might they conversely still be in celebratory mode and primed for a take-down? It cannot be under-estimated how seismic it was for Leicester to win their first FA Cup and even with the best of intentions – and crates of lager eschewed – we’ve seen many times before how susceptible a team is when residing on Cloud 9.
Staying with the psychological angle, it will be interesting to see if Chelsea channel their loss correctly, retaining a burning anger at the late VAR call that deprived them of extra-time. Or will the decision solely have negative connotations?
Most of the above leads us only to conjecture but it does feel pertinent that Tuchel insisted his side had been ‘unlucky’ at the weekend and that’s because he is not typically a coach who uses misfortune as an excuse. “We would have deserved to win,” he said, referring to the disallowed goal and clearly he believes his tactics were on point and furthermore his players did enough to prevail.
Perhaps, he is justified in thinking this. On the vast Wembley turf Chelsea topped their seasonal average of shots and bettered their seasonal average of possession and so if blame is to be allocated anywhere – beyond offering due praise to Leicester for a brilliant and rousing display – it is with Chelsea’s attacking talent who collectively had an off-day. Ziyech was quiet throughout and is unlikely to feature on Tuesday evening. Werner exasperated once again and might well be stood down, replaced by in-form Kai Havertz who has three goals in his last four league outings.
If a recalibration of Tuchel’s forward options can be anticipated however his primary concern will be to keep out a side that has scored ten more league goals than Chelsea this term and here his thoughts will turn to the last two defeats. Prior to losing to Arsenal, his formidable defence conceded every 204 minutes across 25 games but they were undone against the Gunners courtesy of a mishap from Jorginho and it’s telling that only Liverpool have made more individual mistakes directly leading to goals. Leicester’s victory of course came from a wonder-strike by Tielemans and only Leeds have scored more from outside the box this season than the Foxes.
So, a tweaking of his front-line is in order, along with an aggressive press denying space for James Maddison and co in the final third, with the Leicester schemer expected to make only his second league start for several weeks following injury. Add in greater care to attention from his defenders and Tuchel will be confident of wreaking immediate revenge on Brendan Rodgers’ men.
And then we come to Aston Villa, which at first glance seems an altogether more straightforward affair but that really depends on the outcome of Tuesday’s top four clash.
Even so, it can be fairly surmised that Villa’s campaign is petering out to a whimper after an extremely promising first half and indeed their only win since early April was away at Everton. Frankly, even Everton reserves would beat the Toffees this season at Goodison.
Every metric, including instinct, informs us that Chelsea will win out on the final day and should you back the Blues don’t be too concerned either if Villa go ahead. On the last seven occasions they have broken the deadlock the Midland outfit have gone on to draw twice and lose four. That 7-2 trouncing of Liverpool seems an awfully long time ago now.