Chelsea and Leicester Play Out a Stalemate

by - January 16, 2018

This Saturday saw a return to Premier League action as the other most recent league champions went head to head at Stamford Bridge. The Blues went into this match on the back of 3 consecutive draws including disappointing 0-0s in both domestic cup competitions, whilst The Foxes have only won 1 in their last 7 matches.

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

However it was the visitors who showed the desire and determination to gain the early upper hand. Winning most challenges, being first to the ball and playing with purpose and pace, Leicester took the match to the current champions. Quality through balls from James, Ndidi and, in particular, Albrighton, along with the trickery of Mahrez helped the away side dominate the first half with the best chances falling to Vardy and Okazaki.

However, despite a lethargic and ineffective performance from the home side, Leicester only managed 1 attempt on target all match - an Ndidi header that was expertly saved one handed by Courtois. The Chelsea defence has kept 5 clean sheets in their last 6 matches and again their best efforts managed to thwart the best that Leicester could through at them. Their ability to hold firm against a rampant opposition was exemplified by the returning Gary Cahill who appeared to pull a muscle as he pushed himself beyond his physical limits in order to keep out the speedy Vardy.

Long gone is the easily capitulant defence that was embarrassed by the likes of Burnley and Crystal Palace earlier in the season. Whilst Chelsea’s attacking form is coming under close scrutiny for it’s recent lack of goals, it is at the back where strength of character and a tough resilience is blossoming.

Antonio Conte had kept his faith in the 3-5-2 formation despite the 0-0 scorelines in the 2 cup matches. And once again Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard looked far too isolated. With both wide men struggling to make progress and Tiemoue Bakayoko not being in the match at all in the first half, the host’s main avenue of attack was through balls from Cesc Fabregas. However Morata seemed incapable of remaining onside and so Schmeichel was rarely troubled.

Conte made his changes earlier than usual and reverted to a 3-4-3 on 58 minutes. Instantly Leicester’s compact back 4 had more runners to deal with and as the match turned in favour of the home side, The Foxes were reduced to 10 men with the sending off of the impressive Chilwell.

As The Blues slowly tried to build pressure on Schmeichel’s goal they again fell short in being able to break through. Not enough numbers nor movement in the penalty area hinted at a lack of confidence and belief.

And so the match ended in another stalemate for Conte’s men. This was the first time in Chelsea’s history that they have played out 3 consecutive 0-0 draws. Yes, it has not been a joyous rollercoaster of a run but it has kept The Blues alive in both domestic cup competitions and praise must be handed out to Courtois and his defenders.

Let’s just hope a comfortable Chelsea victory is just on the horizon.

Written by Jon Ellis, Chelsea FC home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on twitter: @ClitheroeBlue

You May Also Like