Leicester City were easily beaten by Chelsea by a score of 3-0 in early Saturday action at the King Power. First-half goals by Antonio Rüdiger and N’Golo Kante and a Christian Pulisic tap-in after the break doomed the Foxes to a defeat on their return from the international break.
Manager Brendan Rodgers had to get creative with the starting XI again, this time due to the absence of Youri Tielemans through an injury he picked up against Spartak Moscow in the Europa League: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Marc Albrighton, Daniel Amartey, Jonny Evans, Çağlar Söyüncü, Timothy Castagne, Boubakary Soumare, Wilfred Ndidi, Harvey Barnes, Ademola Lookman, and Jamie Vardy.
Chelsea started brighter, but the chances were even over the first quarter-hour. Ben Chilwell got behind Albrighton on the Leicester right but hit the crossbar when scoring would have been easier. At the other end, Vardy found space behind the visitors’ back line but his low cross was only just cut out by Antonio Rüdiger.
The Premier League leaders took the lead from their first corner of the game. It was those same two men who did the damage, as Chilwell’s cross found Rüdiger between Castagne and Ndidi. The German defender was all but unchallenged as he rose to glance the ball past Schmeichel and into the back of the net. It was probably deserved on the dreaded “run of play” but it was still a desperately poor goal to concede.
The Foxes thought they’d equalised just before the 25’ mark. Vardy got in behind again and found support in Albrighton on the right. The former Villa man whipped in a first-time cross that Lookman tapped home from close range. The flag went up instantly as the for offside and it was hard to argue as he was, in fact, well off.
It got worse for City almost immediately. Reece James got past Soumare entirely too easily. He found N’Golo Kante who was allowed to run unchallenged all the way to the edge of the penalty box. In acres of space, he took the shot himself and beat Schmeichel at the near post with a left-footed blast. Again, it was just a poor goal to concede: A sloppy giveaway and a poor reaction to it.
I'm getting seriously annoyed now.— Jason Bourne (@JasonBourne1986) November 20, 2021
All of this.
Leicester were able to see out the half without any further damage, but without any threat of their own. The Foxes ended the half with no shots on target because they had no shots of any sort. They saw only 30% of the possession and were whistled for 11 fouls and presented with 3 yellow cards, although part of this was due to Chelsea adopting what used to be referred to as a “continental” approach to reacting to contact. Make no mistake though: City were dire and would likely have been down 2-0 to any opponent.
Rodgers needed to make a change or two, and he did, but, curiously, he retained the same shape. Kelechi Iheanacho and James Maddison came on for Barnes and Lookman, playing on the right and left of Vardy respectively. After a brief flurry that saw a Vardy cross for Iheanacho easily gathered, the visitors resumed their territorial and attacking advantage, albeit at a slightly more measured pace.
The Foxes got their first shot and shot on target of the match just before the hour mark. With Chilwell still complaining to the referee that his theatrical embrace of the turf, Maddison cut inside and sent a curly effort that was gathered by Edouard Mendy with Vardy ready to pounce on any error.
City came even closer to getting one back a few minutes later. Amartey took his chances from 25 yards and force an acrobatic save from Mendy. From the ensuing corner, Leicester retained possession after the initial clearance and saw the ball reach Madders on the left. His cross was just behind Vardy, who could not get over the ball and couldn’t get it on target from close range.
It was against that run of play that Chelsea put the match to bed. Chalobah was allowed to carry the ball out of defence into the Leicester half and find Hakim Ziyech, played just onside by Evans. The Moroccan twisted and turned, creating a yard of space in the box, and found Christian Pulisic a yard in front of Schmeichel. The USA international, who had spurned a similar chance moments earlier, tapped home from close range.
Rodgers introduce Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall with his final change, withdrawing the unusually-ineffective Soumare. There was a massive drop even with a full quarter-hour to play as the match was settled. Madders had a go from distance that Mendy saved easily and the corner came to nothing. Chelsea got the ball in the net several times but they were chalked off for Chilwell being offside before he could even celebrate at the corner flag.
That was another just absolutely dire first-half performance that created a hole too deep to for an improved effort after the break to overcome. Burnley would have led 2-0 in the opening 45 minutes. It was that bad. Bringing on Maddison, who was our most-positive player by some margin, and Iheanacho helped but not nearly enough.
So you will avoid the rush— mark (@arm_mark) November 20, 2021
Savage, but accurate.
The defeat leaves us on 15 points from 12 matches, which is...not great. We’re 12th on the table but could be a couple of spots lower by Monday. We host Legia Warsaw on Thursday in a crucial Europa League tie. Next Sunday, Watford will visit the King Power with the legendary Claudio Ranieri returning to the site of his greatest triumph.