The highlight match of the 3rd round of the EFL Cup will most certainly be the tie between reigning Premier League champions Leicester City and the team they dethroned last year, Chelsea. The two Premier League sides will go head to head with contrasting issues to worry about. From the depths of the Premier League, they have risen to the dizzying heights of the Champions league and the weight and expectations as the Premier League champions. They made their winning bow against Club Brugge before dishing out a 3-0 defeat to Burnley and now have to contend with another midweek fixture. Things have never been as hectic for them and while the players will be relishing the challenge, Ranieri has to prioritise to an extent.
Chelsea, on the other hand, are coming off the back of a 1-2 loss against Liverpool and without any European distractions, might be well targeting the EFL Cup as one of the routes to a trophy this year. They certainly have the depth and Antonio Conte might not be changing a whole lot in the team, instead looking to make strategic changes in order to give them the best chance of winning and trying out his 2nd choices at the same time.
The match will also mark N’Golo Kante’s return to face his former team and it will be interesting to see the reaction he gets from the crowd, who had adored him during the time at the club.
Kasper Schmeichel has been ruled out as he is yet to recover from the concussion suffered on Friday. Matty James and Nampalys Mendy (both ankle) are not yet fit and will miss out.
John Terry is on his way to recovery but Tuesday will come too soon for him. While Kurt Zouma is a long-term anterior cruciate ligament absentee.
LEICESTER CITY (4-4-2)
Zieler; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, Amartey, Drinkwater, Albrighton; Vardy, Slimani.
Begovic; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Marcos Alonso; Kante; Willian, Fabregas, Matic, Hazard; Batshuayi.
The Englishman is expected to be given a run-out and he will look to exploit the lack of pace of the Chelsea backline to the hilt. The Blues will be wary of letting the likes of Mahrez and Vardy to run in behind them and will be looking to play a deep line. Vardy will be instrumental and although he is nowhere the dizzying levels of last season, he seems to be slowly getting into rhythm.
It should be an emotional return for Kante who was so instrumental in Leicester’s fairytale run last season. Ironically, he will be tasked with exactly the same duties he was assigned throughout last season. The only difference will be that he will be looking to stop the Foxes this time around. Both will be knowing the other inside out and it will be mightily impressive to see how he goes about nullifying the likes of Mahrez and Vardy.
It is expected to be a cracking match as matches involving Leicester generally, tend to be during the beginning of the season. Chelsea will be quietly confident but will still be wary on being hit on the break by Leicester and that might curb their attacking instincts a little bit.