Blues trap the Foxes
Written By: Robert Halter
Last season’s winners of the Championship, Leicester City, had their first taste of the big time away from home, after a return to the top flight following a ten year exile, while Chelsea paraded their summer signings, former Arsenal favourite, Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona and Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid, while Thibaut Courtois ended his loan spell there for a place amongst the sticks. On five minutes, Oscar’s speculative long range effort bobbled off the Foxes captain, Wes Morgan, before the Blues split open the Leicester defence with a threaded pass from Nemanja Matic which followed a through ball by Fabregas and inter play between Costa and Andre Schurrle, before the German sprayed the ball over. But it was Courtois that was called into action for the first save of the game on thirty one minutes, after the Blues keeper had to sprawl across to parry away a crisp low drive by Riyad Mahrez, who had been played in by Dean Hammond. But the Blues retaliated four minutes later as Branislav Ivanovic charged down the right flank leaving Eden Hazard to pave the way for Costa, whose deflected strike cannoned off Morgan and over the crossbar. Three minutes later, a strong challenge by Morgan on Costa in the penalty box was deemed not to be an infringement by referee, Lee Mason. The Blues were the fastest out of the traps for the second half, when two minutes in, a Hazard pass was latched upon by Oscar, whose low drive, cannoned off the foot of the right hand post and as Leicester failed to clear their lines, Cesar Azpilicueta, whipped in a left wing cross which was met majestically on the head by Ivanovic, only for him to be denied by a flying save from Kasper Schmeichel. The Tigers broke on fifty one minutes, as Hammond set David Nugent free but his shot deflected off Gary Cahill, before Courtois cleared the danger with his outstretched leg. The Blues kept up the momentum, from a throw out by Courtois, and as Oscar supplied Schurrle, his long range strike went soaring over the bar. After Chelsea had a penalty claim turned away when Oscar’s strike hit the hand of Morgan, a panicked clearance from Andy King was fed out to Ivanovic, whose rising strike was kept out by Schmeichel’s athleticism. The Foxes broke again as the game went end to end as Mahrez found Nugent unmarked but his strike was kept out by a left footed block by Courtois. Before the hour mark, Ivanovic put Fabregas in the clear, who from close range tried to chip Schmeichel, but the Tigers keeper clawed the ball over. Finally the Leicester resistance was broken on sixty two minutes, as Oscar spearheaded the attack before Ivanovic beat off the challenge of Jeff Schlupp and Liam Moore, clearing the path for Costa to bring the ball down with his chest, before crashing his shot past Ritchie De Laet on the line. In the first change, Jose Mourinho replaced Schurrle for Ramires before the Tigers brought on Marc Albrighton for Mahrez. A further Blues sub was made as Willian took over from Oscar, before an enforced Leicester change took place, after an injured Hammond was taken off for Gary Taylor-Fletcher. The game was sealed by Chelsea in the seventy seventh minute, after a delicate touch by Fabregas and as Hazard cut in from the left flank, his low strike took a slight nick off Morgan, on the way to the bottom right corner. It was then the return of Blues legend, Didier Drogba, who replaced Costa. The Tigers summer signing Leonardo Ulloa soon made way for Chris Wood, just as Fabregas was waiting to take a free kick for a foul on him by Taylor-Fletcher, but from the ball in, Ivanovic leapt to head the ball over the top. In a virtuoso performance, Willian picked the ball up off Fabregas, from inside his own half and charged forward before striking a long range dipping effort that Schmeichel leapt in the air to turn over. Lessons were left to be learnt by Leicester, as title contenders Chelsea, showed early signs that they were a force to be reckoned with.