Chelsea VS Leicester City that was played today was a beautiful match for All Chelsea fans around the world. If there was any hope that Premier League defending champions, Leicester City would halt Chelsea’s advance, it would have quickly shredded been to bits on Saturday evening.
The nature of the modern Chelsea is that even the calmest waters can quickly give way to stormy conditions so when Antonio Conte’s first player rebellion blew through Cobham this week, the Italian manager would have known he needed a robust response and a solid victory to follow.
In the aftermath of Diego Costa’s one-man insurrection, Conte delivered the first and his team came up with the second. The Brazilian-born striker was not in the squad that traveled to Leicester after a dispute with a fitness coach at the club which spilled over into another with his manager who, even without his leading goalscorer, went on to win this game emphatically.
Chelsea strolled to a comfortable 3-0 victory at the King Power stadium despite leaving star striker and Premier League highest goal scorer, Diego Costa out of the lineup. Costa reportedly received a massive offer from a Chinese club and has attempted to force Chelsea’s hand in order to make a move to China.
The club’s policy is to avoid isolating Costa in the hope that they can bring him back into the fold with a minimum of fuss, although there is considerable anger at the way in which his head has been turned by a badly-timed offer from China.
Antonio Conte, however, insisted that Costa was only left out because of a back injury and not the reported bust-up with the player in training.
Afterwards, Conte adhered to a party-line that Costa had an injury, although he refused to confirm one way or the other whether there had been a row between the two of them. He began his press conference by politely requesting a bite from a reporter’s slice of complimentary Leicester City press-room cake, complaining that he had been given no chance to eat all afternoon. Having helped himself to a mouthful, Conte then went on to sidestep every direct question on the nature of his relationship with Costa – a definite case, you might say, of him having his cake and eating it.
An astute tactician, Conte is also proving himself a shrewd manager when it comes to dealing with the tantrums of his star players. There is no question that the club are privately furious at Costa’s behaviour and that Conte’s dispute with his player on the training ground precipitated his exclusion from the team, but there is complete certainty at the club that there will no sale of Costa to China this month.
Instead they want to find a way back for him and will not allow the situation to escalate into the kind of stand-off that West Ham, for example, are currently locked in with Dimitri Payet.
This victory was a necessary show of strength from manager and team that puts them back on course after that defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at the beginning of the month. There were two rare goals from Marcos Alonso to send Chelsea on their way to a 13th league victory in their last 14 games that puts them seven points clear of Spurs in second place.
Conte will not want to play Eden Hazard as a centre-forward, as he did at the King Power, for the remaining 17 games of the season but it was an effective alternative on this occasion.
Conte’s players controlled Leicester in a fixture which, last season, precipitated Chelsea’s sacking of Jose Mourinho in December 2015. There was a third goal from Pedro, and Jamie Vardy in particular was a peripheral figure for Ranieri who switched to a three-man defence and then a four-man defence in an attempt to break down his fellow Italian’s side.
The Leicester manager said that aside from the two Alonso goals his team had played well but really they barely created a chance worthy of the name. Up against their old boy N’Golo Kante, who showed them the kind of stability they once had, the club are in 15th position and only five points off the relegation places.
While the supporters showed their support for their popular former player, and ambassador, Alan Birchenall, who suffered a heart attack on Friday, they were subdued. Ranieri became the latest manager to adapt to the system of the Chelsea manager, switching to a three-man defence augmented by wing-backs, and they barely had time to get used to the new formation before the first goal was scored.
The ball was moved sharply by Chelsea outside the Leicester box before it went right to Cesar Azpilicueta whose delivery from wide areas has been such a major asset for his team. Pedro was first to the cross and when it dropped, Hazard unselfishly stroked the ball to Alonso, in a better position to shoot past Kasper Schmeichel.
Match Stats — Team Stats
- General Play
- Defence & Discipline
Leicester City Comparison Chelsea 00%100% 3
- Total Shots (including blocked shots)
Leicester City Comparison Chelsea 746.7%53.3% 8
- Shots On Target
Leicester City Comparison Chelsea 240%60% 3
- Blocked Shots
Leicester City Comparison Chelsea 00%100% 3
- Shots from outside the box
Leicester City Comparison Chelsea 457.1%42.9% 3
- Shots from inside the box
Leicester City Comparison Chelsea 337.5%62.5% 5
- Shot Accuracy (excluding blocked shots)
Leicester City Comparison Chelsea 28.6%28.6%60% 60%
Time on ball (at full time)