A rarity in that there is no Saturday lunchtime kickoff this afternoon so our next fix of Premier League action has to wait until at least 3pm. One of seven matches that takes place today is at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea play host to Leicester.
Antonio Conte has failed to win any of his last three matches in all competitions, although all three of those results have been draws. They may not be losing games but the frustration in not winning them is certainly building after a trio of stalemates.
Only one of them has been in the league, that came 10 days ago at the Emirates when they and Arsenal played out a pulsating 2-2 draw, while two of these draws have come against the Gunners. Wednesday passed also saw them play out a goalless draw in the Carabao Cup Semi-final first leg.
The fact that Chelsea failed to put a weakened Arsenal side to the sword and in turn pass up their home advantage in the tie means that the balance of power sits with Arsene Wenger in the bid to return to Wembley as early as next month.
And it seems as if Wenger has Conte’s number, that is now five games unbeaten against Chelsea although again the last three of them have been draws. In the middle of that Arsenal sandwich was a trip to Norwich in the F.A. Cup, again that ended in a stalemate and the two sides will face off again in midweek.
Cup action aside though, Chelsea will look to once again split the Manchester duopoly this afternoon when they play host to Leicester, a win for the Blues would see them move back up to second what with Jose Mourinho’s men not playing until Monday.
And after the recent ongoing war of words between the two managers you get the feeling that Conte would love nothing more than to heap the pressure on his current adversary as they battle to be the best of the rest between Manchester City.
To do that they will have to get the better of a Leicester side who currently lie eighth in the Premier League and they themselves also played out a F.A. Cup stalemate which means they will entertain Uwe Rosler’s Fleetwood in midweek for the chance to move onto the 4th Round.
Last Saturday saw Claude Puel come in for some criticism as he named a much changed Leicester side for the trip to Highbury, people will accuse him of not taking the competition seriously and with their current league standing there was no real need to make wholesale changes.
The threat of relegation is now almost non-existent and you would have thought with their top flight status secured they would have had a proper crack at winning the competition, but like many clubs in this division it is simply not top of their priorities.
The counter argument is that Claude Puel will point to the fact that he has a squad of players of which some are not getting regular game time and therefore he used last weekend as the perfect opportunity in which to give those names a run out.
Ultimately like Chelsea, Leicester have now been handed the one thing they don’t want and that is a replay in midweek and the extra fixture that comes with it. Had both clubs named stronger lineups in the first place then they may have already booked their place in the next round.
In terms of league fortunes Leicester bought an end to a run of four Premier League matches without a win to an end on New Years Day when they got the better of Huddersfield at the King Power, a win that cuts the gap to Burnley to just four points.
However they will have their work cut out if they are to make it two league wins in a row as Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six league outings and they have also when their last six league outings at Stamford Bridge. A streak I can see extending to seven this afternoon. Home win for me.