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12.07.2018 06:36
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The last two Premier League champions are both in a state of flux for different reasons -- current title-holders Leicester City are acclimating to the grind of multiple tournament commitments and 2015 winners Chelsea are looking for consistency on a match-to-match basis under new manager Antonio Conte.The two sides meet at Stamford Bridge on Saturday attempting to jump-start their middling campaigns.It was, of course, all much different the last time Claudio Ranieri visited Chelsea. The one-time Blues manager and his side were given a pre-match honour guard befitting their championship pedigree to conclude that magical season. But those good feelings should be kept in the past according to the Italian manager since Leicester City (2-2-3) are fighting to climb their way out of their current 12th-place spot in the table.The last match at Chelsea was special with the guard of honour, but Saturday is an important match and we must react, Ranieri said at his Thursday news conference. Its a big challenge because now there are so many champions in front. They are playing 3-4-3.They push a lot on the flank but they are also good players with good skill. For us, its important to stay together.The Foxes defence, an underrated component of their run to the title, is still grinding through the gears in league play. Leicester City have not conceded in winning their first two Champions League matches, but Liverpool and Manchester United each breached them for four goals in road losses. So did Chelsea, emerging with a 4-2 victory in extra time at King Power Stadium in the second round of the EFL Cup on Sept. 20.Ranieri is using this match as a measuring stick of his teams mettle.We lost against Liverpool and Manchester United and now arrives another big team, he said. We drew just against Arsenal, so now I want to see how we react.All of Leicester Citys players who represented their countries during the international break came back to the Midlands healthy, and influential midfielder Danny Drinkwater should be available for selection. The England international missed the last two qualifiers recovering from a groin injury but has been practicing with the team.The big subplot to this contest is midfielder NGolo Kante facing his former team for the first time since leaving for Stamford Bridge over the summer. Kante -- worth a £30 million transfer fee in Chelseas eyes -- was the linchpin of Leicesters defence, a tireless engine who tracked every opponent, won seemingly every challenge to create the first touch that sprung Leicester Citys quicksilver counterattack.Kante has made a seamless transition to the London outfit and should be fresh considering he was a stoppage-time situational substitution to help France preserve their 1-0 victory over the Netherlands on Monday. Conte held him out of the EFL Cup tie, but Kante has been a fixture in the starting XI for Chelsea (4-1-2) since his arrival.But the Blues are still a work in progress, evidenced by their inability to beat the Premier Leagues heavyweights thus far. They did avoid going into the international break with a four-match winless streak thanks to Diego Costa, who had a goal and an assist in a six-minute span of the second half Oct. 1 to power a 2-0 victory at Hull City.The Spain international by way of Brazil has re-discovered his 2014-15 form, scoring six of Chelseas 12 goals in league play. Willian also netted his seventh international goal in helping Brazil defeat Venezuela on Tuesday, but his status for this match is unknown following the death of his mother Thursday.Chelsea are still fragile in the back without injured talisman John Terry, leaving Conte to continue his experimentation with a three-man defence he used to great success at Juventus and then with the Italian national team. Their only two clean sheets this season in league play have been at the expense of new boys Burnley and Hull.And like Leicester City, the Blues have faltered in their marquee matches, losing 2-1 at home to Liverpool before being thoroughly outclassed 3-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates.Also similar to the Foxes, Chelsea had most of their first-choice players toiling for country during the international break. Eden Hazard may have been the most productive of the 13 Blues in action, racking up two goals and two assists as Belgium pounded Bosnia-Herzegovina and Gibraltar for 10 goals without reply in their two qualifier victories.Last months League Cup match was a back-and-forth affair -- Shinji Okazaki staked Leicester City to a 2-0 lead with a brace inside the first 35 minutes, but Gary Cahill pulled a goal back just before intermission. Cesar Azpilicueta leveled for Chelsea shortly after the interval, and the match swung after Leicester City defender Marcin Wasilewski was sent off on 89 minutes for his second yellow card.Cesc Fabregas scored twice in the first period of extra time to spark the Blues to victory, but the Spain international was dropped from the starting XI after earning a place for the Arsenal match.Chelsea had won the prior seven matches between the teams in all competitions before a 2-1 loss at Leicester on Dec. 14 as goals by Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were too much to overcome. That defeat led to the departure of Jose Mourinho, who tore into his team publicly after the match for failing to adhere to his scouting report of the Foxes. Cheap Shaun Dion Hamilton Jersey . They hope to persuade the other team owners and commissioner Roger Goodell to put pressure on Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to drop the nickname they find offensive. 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Thursday, Ryen Russillo and Danny Kanell welcome ESPN LAs Ramona Shelburne (1:30 p.m. ET), ESPN NFL analyst Jeff Saturday (2:00), Lions GM Bob Quinn (2:45) and SEC Networks Booger McFarland (3:00).Todays main topics:? Rams-Seahawks preview? Wake Forest leak situationText us at 73776 (mmsg&data rates may apply) or tweet us at twitter.ddddddddddddcom/RussilloShow -- well be with you from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET on ESPN Radio and Wholesale Jerseys 2020 Cheap NFL Jerseys Throwback Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Hoodies Wholesale Black NFL Jerseys Discount Jerseys ' ' '

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