Chelsea travel north to Leicester on Saturday when Premier League football resumes following the international break, a battle that will see the reigning champions meet the former champions.
After Leicester’s title win in 2015/16 came after Chelsea triumph in 2014/15, this is the second successive season in which it has been as such, but with the roles reversed.
It has been a contrasting start to 2017/18 for the pair.
Leicester were narrowly beaten by Arsenal in the opening game of the season on a Friday night in mid-August, the result of a dramatically late Gunners comeback. Chelsea were also beaten that weekend, stunned by Burnley in a 3-2 loss at Stamford Bridge they finished with nine men.
Yet things have improved for Antonio Conte’s team since. A hard fought 2-1 win over Tottenham at Wembley was followed by a 2-0 victory at home against Everton, seeing the champions rise back up the table into sixth place.
Craig Shakespeare managed to inspire his team to a 2-0 win over Brighton in their second game, but it was a second defeat of the campaign when they subsequently met league leaders Manchester United at Old Trafford before the break for internationals and slumped to 15th.
What this game should deliver is goals. There have been 21 scored in the six Premier League games the two clubs have played between them since the start of the campaign.
Leicester may only be three points off the bottom, but their tally of five goals from those games has only been bettered by three other clubs at this stage – Manchester United (10), Liverpool (8) and Chelsea themselves (6).
Where the Foxes have been lacking is defensively. The four goals leaked in game one showed potential weakness, though they have kept a clean sheet and limited free scoring Manchester United to just two goals last time out.
After going 3-0 down at home to Burnley in their opening game, Chelsea’s defensive woes appear to have somewhat abated, conceding just one further goal in the two games since, despite facing more than competent opposition in Tottenham and Everton.
Given their differing league positions, Chelsea have understandably out-passed and out-shot their predecessor as champions so far, registering almost 400 more passes in total, and averaging five more shots in each game they’ve played.
Despite having more of the ball, Chelsea have also made more tackles (55). It shows that Conte’s team are still playing on the front foot and defending high up the pitch. Leicester are certainly no slouches when it comes to tackling, though, with 50 of their own.
Chelsea were chasing Juventus wing-back Alex Sandro during the summer in a move that could have seen Marcos Alonso, one of the stars of last season, relegated to a squad rotation role. But the Spaniard has started the new campaign in fine form, scoring twice in three games, and will continue to be crucial if his team are to get the better of the Foxes.
Only Alonso and Willian have played all three of Chelsea’s games so far.
For Leicester, Shinji Okazaki has been back to his nuisance best in the early weeks of the season. The Japanese star has scored twice already and is a danger in and around the penalty area as he looks to pounce on loose balls or make something out of seemingly nothing.
Wilfred Ndidi has been Leicester’s answer to losing N’Golo Kante in 2016.
The Drinkwater Factor
Having missed the whole of August with a thigh injury, Danny Drinkwater is not expected to be ready to make his Chelsea debut against his former club following a £35m move to Stamford Bridge on transfer deadline day last week.
Following Kante 12 months earlier, Drinkwater is the second of Leicester’s title winners to make the switch to west London. More specifically, his high profile move sees both part of the Foxes’ title winning midfield now reunited at a new club.