Report: Chelsea 0 Leicester City 0
news Sat 13 Jan 2018
The Blues couldn’t find the net for the third straight game but another Stamford Bridge clean sheet earned us a point this afternoon.
Leicester City had the better of the contest before half-time and might well have taken the lead, although Cesc Fabregas did draw a couple of decent stops from Kasper Schmeichel too.
The sending off of Ben Chilwell for two bookable offences midway through the second period handed us the initiative for the closing stages, but there was to be no breakthrough and so a third match in a third different competition ended goalless. It is the first time that has happened in our history.
It is now six clean sheets in our past eight home league games, but with no Chelsea goal at the other end, our run of consecutive league victories in SW6 is over. We are back at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday aiming to get the better of Norwich City for a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Gary Cahill and Tiemoue Bakayoko returned to the starting XI having been on the bench for the midweek game against Arsenal. Andreas Christensen and Danny Drinkwater made way, which meant captain Cahill started in the middle of the back three, although his afternoon was to end early.
For Leicester, Jamie Vardy returned in attack, and Aleksandar Dragovic replaced the injured Wes Morgan in central defence.
N’Golo Kante and Victor Moses had efforts blocked very early on, but aside from that it was the visitors who had much the better of the opening stages on a cold afternoon at the Bridge.
Their first chance fell Shinji Okazaki's way after Chilwell got the better of Cahill on the left, but the sliding Japanese striker couldn’t direct his effort goalwards. Chilwell then cleverly set up Vardy who flicked into the side-netting, and 60 seconds later the England man shot wide of the same post having raced into space in trademark style.
Thibaut Courtois was called into action for the first time with not 10 minutes played, springing to his right to expertly claw Wilfred Ndidi’s header away. Toni Rudiger blocked the follow-up.
Some respite from the Leicester pressure arrived when Fabregas forced Schmeichel to save well following an incisive Hazard pass.
But the Foxes remained on the hunt for the opening goal and it needed a fine tackle from Cahill to stop Mahrez in his tracks, and the captain’s block from Vardy on 20 minutes was even better.
By the midway point of the half, Leicester had enjoyed over 60 per cent of the possession and had eight attempts on our goal. They had also been shown the first yellow card of the game, Matty James booked for taking out Kante in full flight.
A welcome period of calm ensued as the end-to-end action relented a little. But there was concern on the half-hour when Cahill, hitherto our best player, pulled up clutching his right leg. He couldn’t continue and so Christensen came on.
Straight after the sub, Morata produced an outstanding piece of centre-forward’s play that nearly broke the deadlock. Charging down the left, he beat Dragovic for pace in a tight spot and called Schmeichel into action at his near-post.
Marc Albrighton fired wide from range at one end and down the other, Fabregas’s rising drive was tipped over by Schmeichel. The Spaniard then couldn’t quite bring an outstanding Hazard pass under his spell in front of goal. It was the final meaningful action of a non-stop half.
Leicester started on the front foot again and Mahrez wanted a penalty after running into Christensen. Nothing doing. The Algerian responded by trying his luck from 20 yards, the strike deflecting and dribbling agonisingly past Courtois’ left-hand post.
Change must have been on Conte’s mind for a while and before the hour he played his last hand, introducing Willian and Pedro for Hazard and Fabregas, for whom it had not quite come off today.
The switch to 4-3-3 heralded a greater sense of purpose in our play as we began building attacks from deeper.
On 64 minutes, Willian was fouled by Chilwell who was booked, and the England Under-21 left-back was shown a second yellow card within four minutes, clattering into Moses after the ball had gone. We would play the final quarter of the game against 10 men. Could we take advantage?
Claude Puel responded to the dismissal by bringing on Christian Fuchs to play at left-back, with Vardy asked to lead the line on his own before his withdrawal for Demarai Gray.
Kante and Willian shot too close to Schmeichel, and Bakayoko curled over on his left. Breaking down a stubborn Leicester rearguard was proving difficult.
Four minutes of added time were signalled but like the 270 that had come before, no Chelsea goal was forthcoming. A Marcos Alonso free-kick pushed round the post by Schmeichel was the closest we came.
Chelsea (3-5-2): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill (c) (Christensen 33), Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas (Willian 58), Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard (Pedro 58), Morata.
Unused subs Caballero, David Luiz, Zappacosta, Batshuayi.
Booked Kante 56, Morata 87
Chelsea (4-4-2): Schmeichel, Amartey, Maguire, Dragovic, Chilwell, Albrighton, James (Iborra 90), Ndidi, Mahrez, Okazaki (Fuchs 73), Vardy (Gray 82).
Unused subs Hamer, Benalouane, Slimani, Iheanacho.
Booked James 18, Okazaki 61, Chilwell 64
Sent off Chilwell 68 (second yellow)
Referee Mike Jones