LEICESTER welcome Chelsea to the King Power on Saturday. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) takes a closer look at what's expected to be an entertaining encounter.
Leicester vs Chelsea | Saturday 20th November 2021, 12:30 | BT Sport
Club football returns with a tasty clash between Leicester and Chelsea at the King Power Stadium, live on BT Sport.
The league leaders were held to a 1-1 draw by Burnley before the international break. That’s despite racking up 25 shots and an expected goals of 3.22xG. So, it was a frustrating way for Thomas Tuchel and his side to head into the break. But they still do hold a three-point lead over Man City and West Ham.
After last season’s highs, Leicester’s campaign is yet to get going. It was a slow start for the Foxes, but it’s now just one defeat in six in the league, so they are starting to turn a corner. Although the rumours surrounding Brendan Rodgers future will certainly be a distraction to some.
The Foxes have had some success against Chelsea at the King Power of late – they’re unbeaten in their last three (W1, D2). And last season’s 2-0 win here was Frank Lampard’s final game in charge of the visitors, and how things have altered for the capital club.
The betting angles
It might be partly down to recency bias that I’m focusing on certain angles in this one. The Foxes have conceded goals from two central defenders in their last three league games.
One of the Opta stats for this points out that no side has scored more headed goals in the league than Chelsea (4). While you guessed it, no side has conceded more headers than Leicester (4).
Zanka scored for Brentford and Gabriel headed home a corner for Arsenal. It’s that vulnerability that could be exposed once more by this Chelsea side who have defenders that can attack set-pieces.
I’ve felt Leicester struggle in these situations for a while now, especially if setting up to mark zonally, and speaking to people connected with the club, they agree about this defensive deficiency.
Thiago Silva is the man I’d most expect to capitalise in those situations and have taken the 5/6 (Sky Bet) available on him to have a shot. But there are plenty of angles you can dig through for the experienced Brazilian defender.
He had three shots when the sides last met at Stamford Bridge in May, although it was Antonio Rüdiger who got on the scoresheet. Silva also had a header saved in the 2-0 defeat here last season.
And having mentioned Rüdiger, the German bagged both Chelsea goals in a 2-2 draw here in February 2020. So, he could be one to eye up given his recent tendency to advance up the pitch and pull the trigger from distance. The German is 12/1 to score at any time with William Hill.
However, I’ll further explain the Thiago Silva chain of thought considering he’s had four shots v Leicester in his last two games against the Foxes. The 37-year-old has started six times and has recorded six shots in the league.
You can say that’s an average of one shot per start, but those figures are skewed by the four he had in the 1-1 draw with Burnley before the international break. But those came against a side that is known to be defensively solid, so against a team weaker at defending set-pieces, then he could profit from that.
Looking more at Leicester’s struggles at keeping opposition defenders quiet from set-pieces shows shots for (most recent first):
- Spartak Moscow’s Samuel Gigot (one shot)
- Arsenal’s Gabriel scored a header
- Brighton’s Shane Duffy had three shots in the League Cup, including a header on target
- Brentford’s Pontus Jansson (one headed shot) and Zanka (two shots, one headed goal)
- Spartak Moscow’s Samuel Gigot (one shot) and Georgi Dzhikiya (one shot)
- Man Utd’s Harry Maguire (one shot)
- Each of Millwall’s back three had a shot in the League Cup third-round clash
- Brighton’s Shane Duffy had two shots in the Seagulls’ 2-1 win in September.
That just takes you back to mid-September and highlights plenty of defenders having chances against the Foxes. So, while many will eye up Reece James and Ben Chilwell following their recent exploits, I’ll go slightly off-piste with Thiago Silva.
Chelsea rank third-best in the league for expected goals, sit third for corners taken (68) and have recorded 34 shots from set-piece situations, scoring four goals. And the Brazilian bagged one of those in the win at Spurs, rising above the Lilywhites defence to head home.
Therefore the 7/1 for a headed shot on target, 11/1 anytime goalscorer or even the 22/1 on him to score a header are angles I’ve considered when putting this jigsaw all together. I’m just hoping the pieces fall into place.
When you look at Thiago Silva’s shots this season, three have been with his head (from six). While in away games both of his shots have been headed. So, that gives the 22/1 some legs, when putting everything together.
Even the shots lines on Rüdiger 2+ 9/4 and Andreas Christensen 1+ shot at EVS are worth looking at given all the above. It’s worth noting that both of those prices have shortened since the markets opened.
Silva has started four in the last five in the league but having read a few mixed messages about his place in the starting XI, I’ll still roll the dice on him to get a start. If he doesn’t, then these can be translated across whoever starts in the back three, whether it be Rüdiger, Christensen or Trevor Chalobah. Just set your stakes wisely around the prices.