10-man Leicester force Chelsea to goalless draw at Stamford Bridge
…Tired-looking Blues deliver lacklustre performance
Ten-man Leicester produced an outstanding display to earn a point at third-placed Chelsea – although they should probably have come away from Stamford Bridge with all three.
The Foxes dominated possession for large periods and created the better chances but had the sting taken out of their display when defender Ben Chilwell received two yellow cards in the space of five second-half minutes. He was shown no mercy by referee Mike Jones in the 68th minute when he brought down Victor Moses, shortly after fouling Willian.
Claude Puel’s side went close twice through Jamie Vardy, while Wilfred Ndidi’s header was acrobatically pushed away by Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea looked leggy and short of ideas. Cesc Fabregas had two good efforts – twice testing Kasper Schmeichel – and seconds from the end the Danish keeper pushed away a free-kick from Marcos Alonso.
The Blues are now level on points with second-placed Manchester United, who play on Monday.
Leicester have 31 points and remain in eighth.
It was the generally more timid of the two managers who got their side to play the more exhilarating football at Stamford Bridge.
Puel’s side harried the Blues from the first whistle, and should have scored at least once from one of their three chances in the 10th minute.
England striker Vardy, fit again after a groin problem, found the side-netting and fired just wide, while Shinji Okazaki also missed narrowly after more initial good work by Vardy.
Riyad Mahrez has been the subject of rumours linking him to Liverpool and Arsenal, but today his mind was clearly on the matter in hand. He was exceptional in midfield and found Vardy twice with two exquisite passes, only for the striker to miss the target with one strike and see another blocked by Gary Cahill.
Leicester’s best chance of the match fell to Ndidi whose instinctive header was brilliantly pushed away – one-handed – by Courtois.
The Foxes looked set to turn the screw midway through the second half, but had to change their gameplan when England Under-21 defender Chilwell was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Nevertheless, the defence continued to look comfortable against a Chelsea attack bereft of ideas. The only time Schmeichel was severely tested was moments before the final whistle when he tipped Alonso’s low free-kick around the post.