After an action-packed 90 minutes, Chelsea leave The King Power Stadium with a crucial point that leaves them 7 points ahead of Manchester United for the time being. Manchester United play later on Saturday where they face off against the feisty Wolverhampton Wanderers and by the time this review comes out, we’ll know where Chelsea will stand in the table. Starting with the lineup, Lampard made several noticeable changes to the side, leaving Chelsea’s most expensive transfer purchase in Kepa Arrizabalaga and put Willy Caballero between the sticks. Pedro was surprisingly put ahead of Willian and Mateo Kovačić was benched once more ahead of Mason Mount. Tammy Abraham made his return after an ankle injury but showed signs of being rusty & fatigued. Olivier Giroud who was linked to several clubs in the window but ultimately stayed as no recruitments were brought was left out of the squad again not even making the reserves.
Frank Lampard will be also frustrated as his team were overpowered at times by the home side as Leicester City had several key chances to put the Blues away especially in latter parts of the second half. His side were brilliant for the first 25 minutes of the first half where they hounded Leicester City and denied them space on the ball. Mason Mount and the front line (Pedro, Hudson-Odoi, & Tammy) did a good job pressing Leicester’s backline to force mistakes & create chances. What evidently happened though for Chelsea was the poor final ball in opposition third which has been an occurrent tale for the Blues all season. Reece James constantly put in outstanding crosses in the box but the front line of Chelsea could not get on the end of it. Lampard has been reiterating that his side needs to be hungrier in the final third and displayed that lack of tenacity against Leicester City.
With the higher-ups of Chelsea looking on from the crowd, and with Lampard recent reminders of wanting to strengthen his side, they witnessed the flaws in full effect as well as their strengths. From creating chance after chance to losing the control of the match and looking vulnerable on the counter, the Blues showed why the needed a revamp in their attack. Tammy Abraham and Pedro missed a chance to put the blues up after Reece James put a peach of a cross past Kasper Schmeichel with none of them getting a touch on the ball. Another half-chance came from Chelsea when Azpilicueta laid off a pass to Hudson-Odoi & had a chance to shoot the ball but missed the ball completely. Cesar Azpilicueta was also giving The Foxes trouble as he wasn’t marked and often made runs behind their lines to put in dangerous balls in the box. Around the 24th minute, Leicester City created their first chance with a through ball finding Jamie Vardy behind our defense but Willy Caballero made a remarkable save to deny the English veteran striker. After this the home side looked sharper on the ball and with the fans now behind them the momentum shifted in their favor. No goals came from the first half but both teams showed what they were capable of on the offensive end.
The second half went guns blazing for Chelsea as they quickly won a corner, and immediately scored from it. Mason Mount’s corner kick went to the far post where Antonio Rüdiger outleaped several Leicester City players and scored past the keeper. Chelsea had a good short spell finding quick passes through City’s press and getting past their lines to create attacks but their final ball let them down and no real danger came from them. Leicester City got back in the game shortly after giving Chelsea trouble in their own half not letting them any space. The home side usually overloaded the ball side double-teaming the person on the ball and quickly regaining possession. Chelsea had to move the ball faster in those moments but looked sluggish and sloppy. In the 54th minute, Youri Tielemans found Harvey Barnes on the left-hand side running past Reece James and cut inside with his right foot and scored a deflected shot that got past Willy Caballero to level the game 1-1.
Leicester were all over the blues taking control of the midfield and slicing between the lines quite easily. Their efforts were rewarded when Ben Chilwell overhit a cross and Caballero misread the ball and chased after it as it went over his head on the byline but was quickly found out of position. Ricardo Pereira beat the keeper to the ball and Caballero tried to get back into his goal but Leicester moved the ball quickly to find Ben Chilwell on the opposite end of the box who easily scored with his weaker right foot to go up 2-1. Chelsea had difficulty finding their own players but a ball got to Mason Mount and was foolishly fouled by Ricardo Pereira for a free-kick. Mason once again put in a good ball to the far post and Rüdiger soared over Chilwell to head the ball past Schmeichel in a marvelous fashion to equalize and stun the home side. Right after the equalizer, Frank Lampard made two changes substituting Jorginho who was on a yellow card, for Mateo Kovačić and taking off Pedro off for Willian.
The Foxes didn’t let the equalizer discourage them as they continued to relentlessly press Chelsea into mistakes and cause opportunities for them to take the game. In a corner kick, Jonny Evans scuffled Christensen to the ground and was free for a header but could not get the ball on target and missed. Another chance that probably should’ve been finished was when Jamie Vardy sprinted down the right-hand side and found Harvey Barnes who was unmarked on the left side and what looked like an easy finish shamefully put the ball wide and Chelsea escaped unscathed. Chelsea’s last change was for Tammy Abraham with Ross Barkley surprisingly coming on to replace him in the 84th minute leaving Michy on the bench. In the last minute of stoppage time, a quick link-up play in the left-hand side of midfield got Barnes running against Rudiger in the final third but the ball got deflected off the German. Leicester City protested that the ball hit Rüdiger’s hand but VAR showed that the German defender turned away with his hands tucked behind his back with no real intention of hitting it with his hand and was dismissed. The match ended shortly after and both teams escaped with a point.
The home side will probably be kicking themselves not leaving the pitch with the three points but should remember that Chelsea also had good moments of football that easily could’ve gone their way if they capitalized on them. Peter Drury gave a quite on point nickname for Chelsea as “The Great Unpredictables” during the match which demonstrates Chelsea inconsistency overall. Getting a point out of this eventful game seems reasonable as both teams really nullified each other tactically. The game was very scrappy and entertaining for a neutral but for Chelsea fans another stressful match to witness. Chelsea now go into the break to fully heal any fresh and lingering wounds to come back and host the up and down Manchester United. Both teams have displayed unpredictability in terms of performance and results and the match will provide clarity on the top four race. An important test for the blues as they face a strenuous and tough February schedule that will most likely shape the rest of their season.