Leicester City fell to Chelsea by a score of 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening. It was a terrible game. Mike Dean decided to do a Mark Clattenburg impression and let the match turn into something out of Wrestlemania. Leicester were fortunate to be level at the end of a scoreless half. Chelsea went up 2-0 through goals by Antonio Rüdiger and a Jorginho penalty. Ihenacho got one back for Leicester, and Ayoze missed a gilt-edged opportunity to level it late.
Leicester City are the only team to have been in the top four all season. And it’s going to the final day. Again.— James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd) May 18, 2021
It’s going to come down to goal difference, isn’t it? #LCFC
As the Flaming Carrot was wont to say: “This is too bad to be true.”
Manager Brendan Rodgers once again didn’t have Jonny Evans at his disposal, so he made two changes to the side that beat Chelsea in the FA Cup on Saturday. Kasper Schmeichel started in goal because, I mean, duh, behind a back three of Timothy Castagne, Wesley Fofana, and Çağlar Söyüncü. Marc Albrighton and Luke Thomas lined up out wide, flanking a midfield duo of Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans. James Maddison and Ayoze Perez slotted in behind lone striker Jamie Vardy.
The Foxes weathered a Chelsea storm in the opening quarter hour as the Blues took advantage of referee Mike Dean’s reluctance to use his shiny new whistle, shoving Leicester players off the ball and then breaking at pace. City got away with one as well, as Tielemans was clearing a ball in the box and Timo Werner came in from behind and stuck his food between Youri and the ball. It could easily have been a penalty, but Dean wasn’t having it. In fairness, it was very similar to the situation where Vardy was sent off against West Ham five years ago.
The hosts appeared to have scored just five minutes later. A clever move saw Kante zip down the pitch to the edge of the box. The ball was eventually slipped to Werner, who turned and slipped the ball inside the near post. He was well offside, however, and the flag eventually went up and the goal chalked off.
It was more of the same on 35 minutes. Chelsea won a corner from a deflected Reece James shot. The ball was flicked across the face of the goal and Werner was there to bundle it just over the line. The goal decision system said it had gone over the line and Dean signaled it was a goal. Schmeichel wasn’t having it and retrieved the ball from the center circle and will good reason: Werner had bundled it home with his arm and VAR rightly called it back.
It was a strange half: Chelsea had the ball in the net twice, but VAR made the obvious call in both cases. On the other hand, the hosts probably should have had a penalty. On the third hand, because why not, Chelsea were allowed to shove, elbow, and basically do whatever they felt like to Leicester players to win the ball back. On the run of play, Chelsea probably deserved to lead, but it’s tough to attack against a rugby side.
The second half started the same way as the first and that was by no means a good thing. Chilwell got free down the left and looped in a deep cross directly to Thomas. The fullback dawdled on the ball, allowing Cesar Azpilicueta to shove him over and win a corner. It was a good one, flicked on at the near post and onto Antonio Rüdiger’s hip and into the net. It was certainly a deserved lead, albeit under suspicious circumstances.
It continued in the same fashion for the next quarter hour. Chelsea looked comfortable and clever in possession and when they lost the ball, if the Foxes didn’t gift it back to them, they just took two arms and shoved the maroon-shirted player off the ball. Rodgers decided he’d seen enough and withdrew Maddison in favor of Kelechi Iheanacho.
Timo Werner was back at it again on 65’. Running out of the area, he dove to the ground under minimal pressure from Wesley Fofana. It was originally given as a foul outside the box, but VAR took a look and correctly noted that it was inside the box. They weren’t interested in the fact that it was a blatant, cynical dive.. Jorginho sent Schmeichel the wrong way, and it was 2-0 Chelsea.
A physical challenge from Chilwell ended Albrighton’s day and Rodgers was forced to send Ricardo Pereira into the fray in his stead. It was only now, down 2-0, that the Foxes attempted to play the same game that Chelsea were playing, making dubious challenges and daring Mike Dean to make the call.
You may have noted a certain lack of mention of Leicester attacking moves. That’s not an omission on my part; there simply hadn’t been any. That changed with a quarter hour to go. A lazy pass out of goal allowed Ndidi to steal in and slip the ball to Iheanacho all alone in the penalty area. Seniorman hit it first time and beat Édouard Mendy at the far post to make it 2-1. Game on?
Well, yes. But actually, no. Ricardo skinned Chilwell easily and put in a beautiful low cross that found the onrushing Ayoze who struck it first time and skied it over the bar when it looked for all the world he would level the score.
Then things got silly. Because Dean had failed to keep the physical side of the game in check, things finally boiled over. Ben Chilwell and Ricardo came together and Rüdiger, who could have been off twice already with another referee, shoved Ricardo in the back. Both benches cleared and there was a lot of shoving and people getting in each other’s faces.
Sean is being considerably more generous towards him than I would be. The dude cold-cocked Castagne when the ref wasn’t looking.
There wound up being eight minutes of time added on, but the Foxes couldn’t carve out any more chances of note and it ended 2-1 to the Blues.
When a game is that poorly refereed, it’s hard to say what a fair result would be. Mike Dean was absolutely all over the place and the incident at the end of the match was entirely of his making. Chelsea dominated the match for 70’, but, you know, it’s pretty easy to dominate when one side is given the freedom to defend in a matter not prescribed by the Laws of the Game. Yes, we were poor, no question, and it is disappointing that we took so long to recognize that the referee wasn’t going to blow for fouls, but that doesn’t change the fact the fact that the referee was very, very poor.
There’s no nice way of putting this: The defeat puts the Foxes on the edge of calamity. The defeat drops us to 4th on the table with 66 points from 37 matches. Crucially, we are no longer in control of our own destiny. If Chelsea win their remaining match and Liverpool win their last two, we are almost certainly not going to finish in the top four. It’s possible; we would have to finish with a better goal differential than Liverpool, as they hold the edge on the tie-breaker. We close out the season on Sunday at home to Spurs and if we ever needed another 9-0 win, it would be now.