Leicester City were held by Chelsea in the final match of the 2018/19 season at the King Power on Sunday afternoon. Youri Tielemans for Leicester and Gonzalo Higuain for Chelsea had the best chances of the match, but a draw was probably the fairest result in this high-tempo affair.
Another @premierleague season comes to an end. Definitely disappointing for @ManUtd but gotta look on the bright side. Hopefully some good changes coming and hey...@LCFC still have more Premier League titles than @LFC!!!— Tommy Caruso (@carus16) May 12, 2019
Do we? I hadn’t noticed. Quelle surprise!
Manager Brendan Rodgers stayed with the 4-3-3 formation that has become Leicester’s mainstay against the big club. Kasper Schmeichel started in goal behind a back line of Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Harry Maguire, and Ben Chilwell. Wilfred Ndidi, Youri Tielemans, and Hamza Choudhury comprised the midfield three. In attack, Marc Albrighton and James Maddison were the wide men in support of Jamie Vardy.
The visitors had the better of the opening ten minutes. While Leicester played slowly and carefully in possession, Chelsea moved the ball with more purpose and carved out two golden chances. Midfielders Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both should have scored after making late runs into the box, but Barkley shot directly at Schmeichel from close range and Loftus-Cheek headed well over.
The Foxes started to move the ball a little more briskly and pulled themselves into the game over the next 15 minutes. A lovely Choudhury crossfield ball set Chilwell free, but his shot was easily saved by Wily Caballero. Choudhury then tried his luck with a volley from outside the area, but it was more Ndidi than Nalis, sailing high and wide.
Both sides were giving the ball away easily and there were holes in both defenses. An in-form striker would have punished Leicester’s failure to close him down, but this was Gonzalo Higuain and the ball was always going wide. Vardy had a chance from a free kick at the other end, getting a free glancing header that had plenty of pace but was directly into the arms of Caballero.
The Foxes should have taken the lead right before the half. A ball over the top found Vardy with two defenders to beat. The former Fleetwood Town man left them both in the dust and bore down on goal with Tielemans on his right. He attempted to find his unmarked teammate but instead perfectly split the difference between the Belgian and the far post when a simple square ball would have resulted in a goal.
Chelsea, not to be outdone, returned the favor in injury time. Marcos Alonso was given all the space in the world to pick out a cross. Higuain made a perfectly-timed run and met the ball 3 yards out, but his left-footed shot hit his right foot and rolled wide. The visitors probably had the better chances, but at the half-time whistle it was still 0-0.
The second half nearly had a dream start for the hosts. Vardy won a corner after another run that left the Chelsea defense in his wake. It was cleared, but only as far as Tielemans, who got rather more Nalis on his shot than did Choudhury, but not enough and the raking drive went just wide.
The next quarter hour saw a lot in the way of running and spraying the ball around in a way that would have made Werner Heisenberg proud, but very little in the way of goalmouth action. Finally, on 65’, a huge roar went up around the King Power. Rodgers sent Leicester hero and Premier League champion Shinji Okazaki on for (presumably future Premier League Champion) Wilfred Ndidi.
Surprised I linked a tweet by The King of Leicester? I feel like you don’t even know me anymore.
The King Power roared into life a second time when Rodgers sent another champion on for his last match in a Leicester shirt as Danny Simpson replaced Marc Albrighton. Presumably, this meant Ricardo moved into midfield, but the formations were starting to look a little frayed at both ends.
After a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals by the visitors, Rodgers made his third change, withdrawing Maddison for Harvey Barnes. The stadium once again came to life, this time in appreciation of what’s to come as opposed to what impossibly transpired four years ago.
There was finally some football to discuss as the 90’ minute mark approached. Barnes’ work down the left allowed him to center the ball for Tielemans. The Belgian had plenty of time to pick his shot, but he put it high and wide when you would have expected him to hit the target. Leicester had one last chance as a through ball evaded Okazaki and might have reached Vardy, but Caballero was alert to the danger and the final chance passed.
To be honest, there wasn’t a lot to discuss, football-wise. It was fun to watch, but the quality wasn’t exceptional. A 0-0 draw was exactly the right result for it. The level of effort (considerable) exceeded the stakes (none whatsoever), but this one isn’t going to lead Match of the Day this week.
By my count, there were three performances worthy of note: Both Leicester fullbacks were outstanding, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea was awfully good in midfield and is probably the reason we struggled to get the attack working. Everyone else was fine: Not good, not bad, but fine.
The draw leaves Leicester 9th on the table with 52 points, which I think is the fourth-best Premier League haul in club history. The next match is an entire summer away, and I can’t wait. Thank you for joining me for these match reports this season. I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them (which is a great deal, in case you couldn’t tell). It’s been an honor.
P.S. Is this the Fosse Posse signing off? Perish the thought! Stay tuned for a summer of seasonal recaps, transfer rumors, a much smaller amount of actual transfers, and reports on Foxes on international duties.