Leaders Chelsea too strong for Leicester

Chelsea produced a dominant performance in winning 3-0 at Leicester to move six points clear at the top of the table upon the final whistle.

First-half goals from Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante put Thomas Tuchel’s team in control inside the opening half an hour and there was no way back for an out-of-sorts Leicester.

Any hope of a comeback was extinguished when substitute Christian Pulisic made it three on 71 minutes with the only disappointment for Chelsea being an injury to Jorginho.

The result takes Chelsea to 29 points from their 12 games, while Brendan Rodgers’ side are languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League table.

Player ratings

Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Amartey (6), Evans (5), Soyuncu (5), Castagne (5), Soumare (5), Ndidi (5), Albrighton (5), Barnes (5), Vardy (6), Lookman (6).

Subs:Maddison (6), Iheanacho (6), Dewsbury-Hall (6).

Chelsea: Mendy (7), Chalobah (7), Silva (8), Rudiger (8), James (9), Jorginho (7), Kante (8), Chilwell (8), Hudson-Odoi (7), Havertz (7), Mount (7).

Subs:Ziyech (7), Pulisic (7), Loftus-Cheek (6).

Man of the match: Reece James

How Chelsea won the game

The warning signs were there from the start when Ben Chilwell – booed throughout by the home fans – stole in behind Marc Albrighton and fired a shot against the crossbar.

Chilwell did not have to wait long to have an impact against his old club, however, and his assist for the opener was simplicity itself as Rudiger nodded in his corner from the right.

Kante went close to scoring soon after only to be denied by Kasper Schmeichel, although Ademola Lookman did have an attempt disallowed for offside at the other end.

Albrighton’s decision to take a touch and delay his cross led to Lookman mistiming his run and it proved costly not long after when Kante punished them to double the lead.

The hugely-impressive Reece James slipped the ball inside to the ex-Leicester title winner but few would have expected what came next – the midfielder lashing the ball home with his left foot.

It was little more than Chelsea deserved given their superiority and, with the crowd becoming agitated, Schmeichel almost gifted them a third with a poor pass.

It was a disjointed effort from a team that has now gone 11 Premier League games without a clean sheet and Rodgers would have been grateful to get them in at the interval.

Team news

Ricardo Pereira’s unavailability for Leicester presented an opportunity for Marc Albrighton, while Daniel Amartey also returned to the team with Youri Tielemans dropping out through injury.

Chelsea made two changes with Trevoh Chalobah coming in for Andreas Christensen in defence, while Mason Mount returned in favour of Ross Barkley.

The Leicester boss made two changes at the break, introducing Kelechi Iheanacho and James Maddison, but he was unable to alter the flow of the contest. Chelsea remained a threat.

Chilwell went close again after Thiago Silva had put Callum Hudson-Odoi in behind down the left but his fierce shot was brilliantly parried by Schmeichel low down to his left.

There was a better spell from Leicester midway through the second half when Daniel Amartey drew a spectacular save from Edouard Mendy before Jamie Vardy headed wide.

But Chelsea always appeared comfortable and came close to another when two substitutes combined – Hakim Ziyech’s cross almost diverted in at the near post by Pulisic.

Christian Pulisic celebrates after making it 3-0 (AP)

Christian Pulisic celebrates after coming off the bench to make it 3-0 to Chelsea

Again, the warning was not heeded. Moments later, the pair combined in familiar fashion for the United States international to beat Schmeichel from close range.

It ended any hopes of a comeback and though Chelsea had the ball in the net three more times before the end, Leicester were spared further punishment by the assistant’s flag each time.

As the home supporters filed for the exits, the noise in the vocal Chelsea away end only increased, singing the name of Tuchel almost incessantly throughout the match.

Defeats here did for Jose Mourinho in 2015 and Frank Lampard as recently as January. That was never a possibility for Tuchel but this was emphatic. A statement win in the title race.

Analysis: Chelsea’s wing-backs outmanoeuvre Leicester

There has been so much spoken about Chelsea’s wing-backs this season and with good reason given that Ben Chilwell and Reece James are the top scoring ‘defenders’ in the Premier League this season. But this will only add to the praise.

Within minutes, Chilwell had struck the frame of the goal down the left and soon after it was James in behind the Leicester back-line down the right. When they provide the width high up the pitch it becomes a five-man attack and opponents struggle to stop them.

But what was noticeable at the King Power Stadium was the variation in the threat. James, in particular, would drift inside and either drive at the defence from there or take on a playmaking role in the middle. In this form, he looks like the complete player.

The result is that while the two formations on show here were ostensibly similar, it was Chelsea who looked altogether more fluid, with the man on the ball always having options. It is a team that is growing together and their young wing-backs are leading the way.

Opta stats

  • Chelsea have won nine of their first 12 games to a Premier League season for the 10th different time, with the Blues finishing no lower than third in those previous campaigns and winning the title on five occasions.
  • Leicester City are winless in their last 17 Premier League games against opponents starting the day top of the table (D2 L15), conceding 40 goals in the process (2.35 per game).
  • No side has recorded more Premier League away wins at the King Power Stadium than Chelsea (5 – level with Spurs and Man City).
  • Leicester City have conceded in 11 consecutive Premier League games for the first time since Boxing Day 2016.
  • Chelsea wing-back Reece James has been directly involved in eight goals in his last eight Premier League appearances (4 goals, 4 assists), after registering five goal involvements in his first 57 games in the competition.

What’s next?

These teams are involved in European action in midweek. Chelsea host Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday before Leicester host Legia Warsaw in a crucial Europa League game on Thursday.

The Foxes have yet another game at the King Power Stadium when they return to Premier League action on Sunday. Later that afternoon, Chelsea are back at Stamford Bridge for a Super Sunday clash with Manchester United.