LEICESTER CITY 1 CHELSEA 2
Match Report by Paul Weston
It seemed like the season has started again when I approached the KP stadium on Saturday. The distractions of the transfer window and international break made me wonder what team would be selected and what would be our approach in taking on the Premier League champions Chelsea.
The team Shakespeare selected was interesting. Okazaki did not even make the bench, presumably because of jet lag and Slimani was selected to partner Vardy instead of Iheanacho. Otherwise it was the same team that fought valiantly against Man United. Mahrez was selected despite spending a lot of time waiting in airports for bids. Drinkwater looked on from the Chelsea bench (how many games will he play?). Silva, whom we have signed as a replacement and apparently pay his wages yet are not permitted to play, watched from the stands. I have no idea who is to blame but it is a farce and needs to be resolved quickly.
The match started with City playing quite slowly and cautiously and Chelsea looking confident in possession. Alonso and Moses were being given a lot of space on the flanks. Morata nearly stole in for a goal when played in down the middle. However, our defence looked strong and Wes Morgan put in some strong blocks.
Our midfield, although striving manfully, were struggling to create anything. The Slimani/Vardy combination was just not working, and never has worked in my opinion, and the team seemed somewhat disjointed, often losing possession quickly. However, City’s first chance came when Vardy’s first time shot from a typical Mahrez pass slid wide of the goal when he could have done better.
Then the key point in the match happened. City broke fast with Mahrez, and Slimani and Vardy alongside against a retreating Chelsea defence. Mahrez passed to Slimani whose shot was saved by Courtois. We shall never know whether Vardy would have scored, given the opportunity, but I know on whom my money would be!
Chelsea scored soon after when a fairly innocuous cross from the right was glanced in by Morata who got on the wrong side of Morgan. It looked a fairly soft goal and came from nowhere.
Not much else happened in the first half which ended with City 1-0 down and left to muted applause. Chelsea looked comfortable and City were not moving quickly enough or passing accurately to make inroads.
Shakespeare also decided something had to change and made two changes at half time. Slimani was replaced by Gray and Albrighton somewhat surprisingly replaced by Andy King. This was a good chance for Gray to show that he is a good as he thinks he is.
However, despite the substitutions, nothing really changed until City left Kante completely free in the middle and he decided he might as well have a shot. It was a long way out and the shot was not fierce yet somehow ended up the corner of the net. I think midfield, defence and Schmeichel were all culpable. Another soft goal had been conceded and City were 2-0 down.
The tempo of the match changed completely when, after a move by Gray, Vardy cleverly dashed in front of Courtois who brought him down for a rather dubious penalty. Vardy smashed it down the middle. 1-2 and we had a match at last.
City upped the pace in a frenetic last half hour and Fuchs in particular did his best to make things happen by pushing forward at every opportunity. Crosses bombed in from both flanks but often the final pass went astray, with Mahrez sadly often the culprit. Iheanacho was brought on late for James as City went for it but it was all too late. This left the midfield exposed and Willian nearly scored close to the end as he and Hazard looked an immediate threat.
The match ended with a feeling of frustration. There is no doubt that Chelsea have world class players with the luxury of players like Hazard and Willian coming on from the subs bench. However, City could, and should, have got something from this match if they had played with the same intensity as in the second half.
City fans look with trepidation as the team sits close to the bottom of the league after admittedly a tough start to the season. Okazaki, Huth and Iborra need to be fit for selection, Silva registration resolved and then the next matches against Huddersfield and Liverpool will become a critical benchmark for the season ahead.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan (c), Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, James (Iheanacho 77), Albrighton (King 45), Slimani (Gray 45), Vardy. Unused Subs Hamer, Chilwell, Amartey, Ulloa
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation