Leicester City stunned Chelsea with a shock 0-1 victory at Stamford Bridge in a hotly contested Premier League clash on Saturday afternoon.
Chelsea dominated the ball in the first 45 minutes and went close as Eden Hazard hit the bar following some bright individual play from the Belgian. However, there was no end product from the Blues before the break.
?Leicester held their own against ?Chelsea’s dominance in possession throughout the first half, and punished the home side through a trademark finish from ?Jamie Vardy, following a swift counter-attack just six minutes after the interval.
The Foxes grew into the game with increased strength and belief after taking the lead. Chelsea required some staunch rear-guard action to prevent the visitors from doubling their lead later in the second half.
Marcos Alonso hit the woodwork at the death but Claude Puel’s side saw out a famous win over Maurizio Sarri’s side.
Here’s our breakdown of this one.
Key Talking Point
Without a forward in the Didier Drogba or Diego Costa mould to act as the focal point, the home side too often ran into a brick wall in the form of Wes Morgan and Harry Maguire going forward.
Eden Hazard looked to use his pace and trickery to get through the middle as Chelsea dominated possession but found himself too often incapable of matching the strength and physicality of his opponents in central areas. The Belgian looks far more adept at playing off of an Olivier Giroud-type forward, and Maurizio Sarri may need to address the issue in January.
Starting XI: Arrizabalaga (5); Azpilicueta (7), Rudiger (5), Luiz (6), Alonso (6); Kante (6), Jorginho (7), Kovacic (6); Pedro (6), Hazard (7), Willian (6)
Substitutes: Giroud (5), Loftus-Cheek (5), Fabregas (6)
STAR MAN – Despite playing as part of a back line which generally failed to cope with Leicester’s abundance of pace and energy in attack, Cesar Azpilicueta turned in a typically determined and efficient performance. The Chelsea captain made a crucial block to prevent a seemingly certain second goal from Vardy on the 66th minute. The Spaniard also provided a useful attacking outlet down the Blues’ right flank.
WORST PLAYER – Antonio Rudiger endured a tough afternoon up against a Leicester side which was bustling with energy and drive.
The German was forced to track the movement of Jamie Vardy across the line and contend with the overlapping runs of full back Ben Chilwell, often leaving the defender all at sea. Rudiger failed to track Vardy as he broke through the home side’s back line to fire Leicester ahead.
Key Talking Point
Having lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace last time out in the Premier League, Claude Puel fielded a revised 4-3-3 shape this time out which gave the Foxes a more compact and disciplined shape.
With Hamza Choudhury joining Nampalys Mendy and Wilfred Ndidi in a midfield three, Leicester had the power and purpose needed to compete physically with the likes of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante in the Chelsea engine room.
Jamie Vardy has now scored 3+ Premier League goals against each of last season’s top six:
?? Manchester City
?? Manchester United
?? Chelsea ?
Big game player. pic.twitter.com/fPNl2JC95A
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 22, 2018
The front three was also armed with plenty of energy and dynamism, with James Maddison and Marc Albrighton flanking Jamie Vary effectively to provide strong work rate from the front and a potent threat on the counter attack. Puel’s side were set up effectively for such an away test.
Starting XI: Schmeichel (6); Pereira (7), Morgan (7), Maguire (6), Chilwell (7); Choudhury (6), Mendy(6), Ndidi (7); Albrighton (7), Vardy (8), Maddison (8)
Substitutes: Gray (6), Ihenacho (N/A)
STAR MAN –
Jamie Vardy scoring against a top team. No surprise.
— Kristof Terreur ?? (@HLNinEngeland) December 22, 2018
.@LCFC’s Jamie Vardy has scored 28 of his 68 PL goals (41%) against ‘Big 6’ teams:
? ? ? ? ? ? v Arsenal
? ? ? v Chelsea
? ? ? ? ? ? ? v Liverpool
? ? ? ? v Man City
? ? ? ? v Man Utd
? ? ? ? v Tottenham
Those 28 goals have come in 48 appearances pic.twitter.com/90afm5A4Ss
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 22, 2018
WORST PLAYER – Nampalys Mendy’s energetic presence in midfield was a boost for Leicester, but the Frenchman’s technical ability was not up to the speed of his teammates and played his defence into trouble late in the first half with the scores at 0-0.
The midfielder was dispossessed cheaply and nearly cost his side a crucial goal which could have yielded a very different result.
Chelsea take on Watford in a London derby at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day before travelling south in the capital to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in their second away game in the space of four days.
Leicester, meanwhile, host champions Manchester City in another huge test in the Premier League on Boxing Day before enjoying home comforts once more as the Foxes face Cardiff City at the King Power Stadium just three days later.