Leicester City and Chelsea fought to a 1-1 draw on Thursday evening at Stamford Bridge. James Maddison gave the Foxes an early lead that was cancelled by Marcos Alonso’s strike on the half-hour. That was the sum total of the quality exhibited in this largely inconsequential match between two clubs that have played an awful lot of football this year.
Chelsea (1.68) 1-1 (0.08) Leicester— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) May 19, 2022
We just may have been a little fortunate tonight...
In case anyone, say, yours truly, for example, thought that manager Brendan Rodgers would use the essentially meaningless end of the season matches to hand some of the youth players their Premier League debuts, that person would be sorely mistaken. The starting XI: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Daniel Amartey, Jonny Evans, Wesley Fofana, Timothy Castagne, Luke Thomas, Nampalys Mendy, James Maddison, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Jamie Vardy.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel selected a very strong squad as well, so it was no surprise when the Londoners started strong, pinning the Foxes deep in their own territory. City struggled to get out of their own area, not launching their first attack until the sixth minute.
It was a good one, though.
Schmeichel launched the attack, finding Castagne deep in the Chelsea half on the right-wing. The Belgian did well to spot Madders in space (OK, it was a deflection, but let’s give him credit anyway). Leicester City’s Player of the Season bore down on the area with Thiago Silva backing off. Maddison seldom needs an invitation to shoot, let alone a defender holding the door open for him. He curled in a beauty, starting it well outside the post and just nicking the inside of it before nestling in the back of the net.
The hosts continued to look more likely, so it was no huge shock when they equalised just after the half-hour mark. A wide ball to Reese James put the wingback in acres of space. It looked as though he was squaring to shoot, but he curled a cross to the far post instead. Marcos Alonso met it on the volley and beat Schmeichel from very close range.
The half sort of ambled on from there with Chelsea threatening, but not really looking like scoring. For their part, the Foxes didn’t look threatening and also didn’t look like scoring. Madders’ goal was the only shot of the half for City, but at least he made it count.
No changes in personnel or tactics meant no changes in the run of play to start the second period. The first fifteen minutes saw a single effort from the Iheanacho (high and wide) and a bucketful by Chelsea (directly at Schmeichel). Rodgers decided he’d seen enough and threw Harvey Barnes into the fray to try to liven things up.
Lively they got, although most of the action was at the Leicester end. Romelu Lukaku got free on the right and squared the ball to Christian Pulisic all alone five yards from the goal. The USA international somehow contrived to put it wide when it seemed impossible not to score.
The hosts then laid siege to the Leicester goal, forcing a good save and a couple of hurried clearances. Things got scrappy and Antonio Rudiger found himself booked after he lost out to Fofana and leapt into a two-footed lunge on the France defender.
On 75’, Ayoze Pérez came on for Vardy in an attempt to...honestly, I don’t know. Neither the shape nor the flow of the match changed in any meaningful fashion. The entire match could only be described in terms of disjointed events. Fofana won the ball in midfield and changed down the flank, winning a free kick off Jorginho in a great position, but it came to nothing. Hakim Ziyech sent Kai Havertz on his way, but the German kicked the ball with the wrong foot and the chance was lost.
The referee added four minutes of time. The lack of quality was almost surreal. James Maddison standing all alone on the left-wing, waving his arms to get the attention of anyone who would give him the ball. Barnes losing the ball, winning it back, and losing it again. There was a lot happening, but none of it remotely good. It ended 1-1, but not nearly soon enough for the viewers.
I’m very excited to see us play two up front this evening. Would like to see a Vardy and Iheanacho masterclass - it would certainly prove a point! In the words of @_mattpiper, there’s no such thing as a dead rubber in the PL. #CHELIV #lcfc— Millie Sian (@MillieRSian) May 19, 2022
Millie, I hate to tell you this, but Pipes may have been wrong about that one.
The commentators described it as “a really good football match” and I’m still scratching my head as to how they came to that conclusion. Perhaps it was good for the neutrals, a point of view I will never experience as a Leicester supporter. For Chelsea, it must have been frustrating to have 70% of the possession, outshooting their opponents 19-2, and only come away with a draw. For us, it was just an ugly two hours of last-ditch defending and strikers as isolated as I’ve ever seen in a Leicester match.
The draw gives us 49 points from 37 matches. We’re 9th on the table, but we could realistically finish anywhere from 8th-10th. Newcastle would have to score something like 9 goals to match our goal differential, and since we’re the ones playing Southampton, that seems unlikely. We square off against the Saints on Sunday for the final match of the season at the King Power in what will surely be described as “a football match” as neither side have a great deal to play for. Still, wouldn’t miss it for the world.