Leicester aim for top spot, Chelsea need a lift

LONDON – When Leicester City lost at home to Chelsea in late April it briefly stalled their dash for Premier League survival and left their opponents one victory away from claiming the title.


Man United        vs      Newcastle Utd                       1:45pm

West Ham          vs      Bournemouth   4pm

Sunderland        vs      Swansea City   

Norwich City       vs      Stoke City         

Leicester City     vs      Tottenham       

Crystal Palace    vs      Aston Villa        


West Brom         vs      Chelsea              2:30pm

Watford              vs      Southampton   5pm

Everton               vs      Manchester City


Arsenal                vs      Liverpool            9pm

LONDON – When Leicester City lost at home to Chelsea in late April it briefly stalled their dash for Premier League survival and left their opponents one victory away from claiming the title.

Chelsea went on to claim the crown and Leicester, with a stunning sequence of results, stayed up.

But not even Leicester’s most optimistic followers could have envisaged then that, a few months later with Claudio Ranieri now at the helm, they would be hosting Tottenham Hotspur with a chance to top the table with a maximum nine points.

Likewise, Chelsea’s fans could hardly have expected their club to be mired in an early-season trough that, with a certain sequence of results this weekend, could leave Jose Mourinho’s side bottom of the table.

That is the unlikely scenario in store, however. Wins against Sunderland and West Ham United mean Leicester have collected 28 points from the last 33 available -- the best tally of any side in the top flight.

With confidence surging, goals flowing and a stuttering Tottenham visiting on Saturday, Leicester have every reason to expect their form to continue for another week at least.

Algerian Riyad Mahrez leads the league scoring charts with three goals while the likes of James Vardy and midfielder Marc Albrighton have excelled.

This week’s signing of Switzerland captain Gokhan Inler from Italian club Napoli has added to the feel-good factor sweeping the east Midlands.

Not that Ranieri is letting the players get ahead of themselves. “I put the ice on their heads to keep them cool so we maintain a low profile,” the Italian said. “That is important for us.”

Champions Chelsea are still looking for their first victory, having conceded five goals in their opening two games -- including a chastening 3-0 defeat at Manchester City last week when skipper John Terry was substituted at halftime.

It is their worst start for 17 years and they will hope to get back on track on Sunday at West Bromwich Albion who themselves only have one point.

After the distraction of Mourinho’s public dressing down for club doctor Eva Carneiro and speculation about talismanic Terry’s ‘demise’, Chelsea could do with a big statement of intent at the Hawthorns where they lost 3-0 in May having already secured the title.

Manchester United and City will both be seeking to maintain their 100 percent starts to the season, with United, who host Newcastle United on Saturday, buoyant after taking a huge step towards the Champions League group phase with a 3-1, first leg victory over Club Bruges at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

City, ahead of Leicester on goal difference at the top, face a trip to Everton.

After two 1-0 defeats, newcomers Bournemouth visit West Ham looking for their first ever top flight points. Only Sunderland, who host Swansea City, are also without a point after two games.



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