Leicester City sit 5 points above the relegation zone after a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea. It couldn’t have been a better time to play the Premier League leaders, coming off a 2-0 loss this past weekend and without their top marksman Diego Costa. The Foxes were looking to build on an impressive come from behind win at Everton, but set themselves up for failure before the whistle even blew.
Claudio Ranieri set his team up in a 3-5-2 formation to match Chelsea’s formation like-for-like. It may have seemed like a good idea initially, but Leicester certainly don’t have the personnel to play 3 at the back and that was exposed in the opening 5 minutes.
Marcos Alonso, of all people, opened the scoring on 6 minutes. The defense was positioned way too far to the left hand side, allowing Chelsea to capitalize on a scramble in the box. A cross ended up at the feet of Eden Hazard, who calmly squared it to Alonso to slot home, an easy first time finish to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
After the early goal Leicester began to find their footing. A combination of dangerous balls into the box and some lapses in communication from the backline gave the Foxes a few dangerous chances, the best of which came in the 17th minute, when a brilliant Marc Albrighton cross found the head of Ben Chilwell. The young left back did well to out-leap David Luiz, but got the connection all wrong, the ball grazing his forehead and going well wide.
The Foxes continued to link up well, the midfield 3 of Danny Drinkwater, Wilfred Ndidi, and Nampalys Mendy looking extremely impressive both on and off the ball, constantly breaking up play and making it difficult for the visitors to get back in their rhythm.
The best, and probably last chance for an equalizer came through Jamie Vardy, who beat Gary Cahill and put a teasing ball into the box, only for Thibaut Courtois to get a vital hand to hit, diverting it away from the trailing Ahmed Musa.
It would be fair to say Leicester went into the half unlucky to be behind, but from there it was all Chelsea. The hosts were chasing shadows for the opening 5 minutes of the second half. Chelsea’s crisp passing and constant movement eventually led to Christian Fuchs tugging Willian down on the left hand side.
The resulting free kick caused all kinds of issues in the Leicester City penalty area. The ball ended up at the feet of Alonso, who was unmarked yet again on the edge of the area. His strike took a deflection off Wes Morgan and crept past Kasper Schmeichel and into the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-0 to the visitors. Just like the first goal, the defense was all over the place, completely lost in a back 3.
Chelsea continued to play Leicester off the park and it was no surprise they found a third. The defense was carved open yet again, with an angled shot from Willian taking an unlucky deflection off Schmeichel, bouncing kindly for Pedro to head home to make it 3-0.
Although the Foxes started fairly well, all it took was Chelsea to find their groove, and from there it was men against boys. Ranieri got the formation all wrong. Morgan and Robert Huth are far from versatile, and Christian Fuchs looked completely lost as the third member of that back 3. The smarter decision would have been to play a 4-3-3, but Ranieri instead looked to mimic Tottenham’s philosophy, completely lacking the personnel to do so.
Overall it was a rough day for the Foxes against some quality opposition. That said, they set themselves up for failure and continue to lurk around the relegation zone.