Leicester City shared the points with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon in an action-packed 1-1 draw. Mason Mount’s first half opener gave the hosts the early lead as the Blues threatened to overrun the slow-starting Foxes. Leicester dominated the second period and got a deserved equaliser through Wilfred Ndidi’s header. Despite many late opportunities, City were unable to make their dominance pay and had to settle for a single point when three were looking more likely.
Brendan Rodgers made only one change to the lineup that drew against Wolves in the opener and it’s not one anyone expected: Christian Fuchs got the nod at left back in place of Ben Chilwell, who wasn’t in the squad due to a hip concern. Kasper Schmeichel retained his place in goal behind a back four of Ricardo Pereiera, Jonny Evans, Çağlar Söyüncü, and Fuchs. Wilfred Ndidi was listed as the holding midfielder, slotting in behind a central midfield pairing of Hamza Choudhury and Youri Tielemans. James Maddison and Ayoze Perez started on the left and right wings respectively with Jamie Vardy lining up as the lone striker.
Note: I get my lineups and formations from the BBC football feed. While they generally get the correct starting XI, they seem to take perverse pleasure in finding a way to assemble a formation that no team, manager, or even duffer would use in a real match. I realize that there is almost no chance we’re really playing a 4-1-4-1 today, so use your imagination. Your guess is as good as mine and almost certainly better than that of the BBC.
The match got off to a roaring start for the men in blue. Unfortunately, Leicester were in their away pink kits so the one way traffic was worrying. Söyüncü was caught upfield and left Evans to fend with a Chelsea break by himself. Olivier Giroud knocked a ball down for Pedro to lash a shot into the side netting when you’d have bet on him to score. Shortly after, Mason Mount saw his shot well-saved by Schmeichel, and the rebound was just poked away from the onrushing Christian Pulisic.
We in the trade refer to these sorts of near-misses as “warning bells”, as in “The Foxes would do well to heed the incessant pealing of the warning bells.” Alas, they went unheeded and the hosts were on top on only six minutes. Ndidi was caught dawdling on the ball just outside the Leicester box. The rampant Mount nipped in and took the ball off the Nigeria man’s toes and slotted an early shot past Schmeichel to give Chelsea a richly-deserved 1-0 lead.
The next 15 minutes or so were more reminiscent of the Wolves match, which is to say “dull, but a huge improvement.” Chelsea were still well on top, but there were only two clear-cut chances for the Blues: A head that Mount had all day to place and for some reason he chose to place directly at Schmeichel, and a close-range shot by Kanté that Fuchs did well to turn just wide. Leicester were seeing more of the ball without really troubling the Chelsea defense.
Kepa nearly let the Foxes back into the game on the half hour mark. He took a simple back pass and, channeling his inner Adrian, decided to take his time doing anything with it. Vardy, showing his customary patience with lax defending, closed him down and was centimeters from making him pay, but the Chelsea keeper only just managed to poke the ball away from the former Fleetwood Town hitman.
That was about it for highlights for either club in the first half. The last 15 minutes were a sloppy mess that surely pleased neither manager. The ball was given away as quickly as it was recovered and Stamford Bridge was quiet enough to hear the anguished cries of players caught by one of the many poor challenges. It was...not great football. But, at least Leicester had gone from “shambolic” to merely “poor” by the end of the half.
Leicester are starting to get a foothold in the game now after that pulsating start from Chelsea.— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) August 18, 2019
The Foxes are yet to create a clear opportunity however.
Live text & @5liveSport https://t.co/PQsEI3qTOA #CHELEI pic.twitter.com/MgxgDlApVn
No wonder there were questions about the formation...
Both sides emerged from the tunnel unchanged for the start of the second half. An argument could be made that the formation featuring two defensive midfielders wasn’t working, but we got to see some absolutely vintage Choudhury right at the start of the half when the academy product absolute wiped out N’Golo Kanté with a perfectly time challenge deep in the Chelsea half. This marked the beginning of a bright spell for the Foxes with everything going through Maddison. The former Norwich man rounded Kepa but was unable to find a pink shirt to tap in to the empty goal.
The visitors final put a shot on goal on 57’. After several comic training ground moves, Madders just launched a corner into the box. It fell to Choudhury, whose curling shot was just deflected by Ayoze and could have gone anywhere, but unfortunately went directly to Kepa. Leicester were well on top at this point and it was Chelsea manager Frank Lampard who made the first change, sending Tammy Abraham on for Giroud.
This did nothing to stem the Pink Tide (™) as a long Schmeichel clearance found Ayoze on the right wing. His diagonal ball to Vardy was just overcooked, but there were those bells again. Fuchs turned back the clock with a marauding run down the left that left Pedro in his dust. The Austria international fired in a cross that was nearly deflected into the net but instead went just over for a Leicester corner. Madders’ ball was inch-perfect, finding Ndidi’s leap. The former Genk midfielder made no mistake, planting his header past the motionless Kepa and drawing the Foxes level.
The goal prompted Lampard to make a double change, withdrawing Pulisic and Jorginho in favor of Kovacic and Willian. Rodgers responded by handing a debut to Dennis Praet and taking off Choudhury. Praet was immediately involved in a move that should have put Leicester on top. The Belgium man found Fuchs on the left. Fuchs did brilliantly and found Maddison in the box. The Engalnd man carried the ball across the entire box but lifted his shot over when he looked certain to score.
The Foxes had yet another golden effort to take the lead when Madders slipped Vardy in on the left. In acres of space, the former Fleetwood Town man blasted the ball across the face of the goal, just wide and just out of reach of the onrushing Ayoze. That would be Perez’s last involvement as Rodgers sent Albrighton on for him on 80’.
The Foxes had yet another chance to take the spoils on 88’. An Albrighton run down the right saw the former Villa man break into the box and lay the ball off for Tielemans. He struck the ball with plenty of power, but it was right at Kepa. The next time down it was Ricardo with the run, but his low cross was just behind Vardy and the chance was lost. Leicester had one more opportunity to win it at the death when Chelsea turned the ball over in the visitor’s half and Tielemans knocked the ball over the top towards Vardy and Albrighton. Kepa came 40 yards out of his box and made a sliding challenged to knock the ball away from Albrighton and deny Leicester what looked like an inevitable 3 points.
Wow. What a match. Last week, it was difficult to find enough of interest to fill a match report. You might notice this one ran a little long on account of there just being so many incidents worthy of note. The statistics and the scoreline say that this was a very even match and that the draw was deserved, but based on our dominance at the end, I have to say that I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get the win.
If there’s one thing we can take from this match, it’s that Madders is not a winger. When he swapped places with Choudhury, Leicester were in complete control of the match. Neither he nor Tielemans are releasing the ball quickly enough yet, but when the two of them are paired in midfield, a lot of good things happen for City.
I don’t care what anyone says, that pink shirt/black shorts combo is glorious.— James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd) August 18, 2019
Would you care if we agreed with you, James? Because you’re not wrong.
Ricardo was back to his usual standout self even though he and Ayoze were stepping on each other’s toes a little. Ndidi gets a shout-out for being involved with both goals which is no easy task in a 1-1 draw. The sentimental side of me loved seeing Christian Fuchs shake off his first half rust and reminding us of 2015/16 with his performance in the second period.
The draw leaves the Foxes 12th on the table with 2 points from 2 matches. We travel to South Yorkshire to take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane next Saturday. The following Wednesday, we host Newcastle at the King Power in the 2nd round of the Carabao Cup.