Chelsea 0:1 Leicester City
City stunned Chelsea on Saturday with a huge team performance, and a goal from Jamie Vardy, being enough to earn the first win at Stamford Bridge in 18 years…
Claude Puel made eight changes to the line-up that drew with Manchester City in the League Cup, with Choudhury retaining his place in a five-man midfield.
It was a defensive set up that was happy to sit back as Chelsea probed for an early opening. There was an early scare when Luiz lofted a ball forward for Willian clear on goal but Schmeichel came out to meet him and neither made meaningful contact.
City’s first foray upfield came in the 12th minute. Maddison went over in the area but referee Lee Probert wasn’t interested. Albrighton then delivered a cross which Morgan headed wide.
Chelsea increased the pressure, but Kovacic fired a shot into the visitors’ section and then Luiz just failed to get his head to a flicked on corner from close in.
Azpilicueta then fired a shot well over, Hazard was judged to be narrowly offside as he went clear on goal, and a couple of corners were cleared as City’s defence stood firm.
Ndidi picked up a yellow card for sliding in on Hazard on the half hour.
Hazard recovered and soon wriggled through City’s defence before lashing a shot against the bar after Maguire had given the ball away.
Four minutes before the break Ndidi produced a fine 30-yard shot which Arrizabalaga tipped over the bar. As play swept up the other end Hazard and Kante combined to set up Willian, but Schmiechel saved.
Just before the break Jorginho struck a thunderous volley which Schmeichel punched away.
It had been one-way traffic, but City survived to half-time with their clean sheet intact.
The game turned on its head seven minutes into the second half when City delighted their followers by going ahead. It was a superb breaking move, Ricardo won the ball, made himself some space with a back-heel and then found Maddison who slipped Vardy through to smash the ball home.
Chelsea appeared to have run out of ideas at this stage with both Willian and Hazard sending long-range efforts straight at Schmeichel.
But then Hazard broke in down the left and delivered a blistering near post shot that Schmeichel did very well to get a hand to.
City were looking threatening on the break now, with Ricardo and Chilwell putting in a huge shift on the flanks. When Arrizabalaga made a hash of gathering a cross the ball dropped for Vardy but his back-heeled shot was blocked by a grounded Azpilicueta.
City were holding on to possession well now, and Choudhury was magnificent, snuffing out danger all over he middle of the park.
Albrighton then hit a well-struck 20-yarder but Arrizabalaga did well to see it through a crowded area and pull off a fine save.
Puel made a couple of changes to tired legs as the game moved into the final ten minutes, with Gray on for Maddison and then Iheanacho replacing Vardy.
City were managing the game well but had two big scares as went into time added on.
Rudiger headed wide from a Pedro corner when he should have buried the chance.
And then it looked like Chelsea had rescued a point when Alonso went clean through on Schmeichel. The City keeper was beaten by the shot, and the fans were up and celebrating, when the ball hit the inside of the post and flew across the goalmouth to safety.
The final whistle heralded a superb win for City, with the second half probably being their best performance of the season. It had been an energised and grittily determined display, with counter-attack once again proving to be this side’s forte.
Claude Puel responded to news stories about player unrest: “I have no comments about this. I do my work. It’s not always easy, but it’s important to analyse the games. You can’t always look at the table. We’ve not had the consistency. We’ve conceded some early goals and had some red cards. We had problems in first half , but had the mentality and quality after that. I was happy with our players today.”
It was a highly unlikely win for City, but ensured a Merry Christmas… Manchester City up next.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, David Luiz, Alonso, Kanté, Jorginho (Fàbregas 75), Kovacic (Loftus-Cheek 61), Pedro, Hazard, Willian (Giroud 61).
Substitutes: Fàbregas, Barkley, Caballero, Zappacosta, Cahill.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Choudhury, Mendy,
Ndidi, Albrighton, Vardy (Iheanacho 84), Maddison (Gray 82).
Substitutes: Evans, Ward, Okazaki, Iborra, Fuchs.
Referee: Lee Probert. Attendance: 40,558.
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