Toni Rudiger marked his 100th Chelsea game in style, with the opening goal of the game seconds into the second half of this lunchtime contest in the Midlands, and then a brilliant headed equaliser after Leicester had taken the lead with two strikes in quick succession.
Both Chelsea goals came from set-pieces taken by Mason Mount but Leicester levelled soon after the first with a deflected ball from Harvey Barnes, and then went ahead with a Ben Chilwell goal after the Blues dealt poorly with danger.Our German centre-back was there to rescue a point however which maintains our deficit to Leicester above us in the table at eight points, although we were thankful our opponents wasted two great chances to win the game towards the end.The first half of a lively contest was goalless. Both sides must have been thinking they should have scored as they went in at the interval, although they had managed only one shot on-target each. The full-backs were Chelsea’s most creative threat in that first period – Reece James with his pacy crossing and Cesar Azpilicueta with more measured deliveries giving Tammy Abraham hope of a goal.Leicester’s former England striker Jamie Vardy had their best first-half chance but he was denied by Willy Caballero who made other saves, and although his part in the Foxes second goal was questioned by some, Frank Lampard pointed the finger at the poor marking of the goalscorer instead.
Caballero called upon
Kepa was dropped today in favour of Caballero who had played in goal in the cup win at Hull last weekend. Pedro also kept his place from that side, Willian rested on this occasion. Reece James and Tammy Abraham were both over ankle injuries sufficiently to start and in midfield, Mount played in an advanced role ahead of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho who were paired deeper.
As is often the case this season, Chelsea started the game the brighter side. Callum Hudson-Odoi unfortunately air-kicked when presented with a shooting chance by Azpilicueta early on but he did carve through the Foxes defence not long after to set up Mount, who shot over from an offside position.The best move of the first half came with 16 minutes played but Azpi’s return pass to Abraham was just a fraction too far behind the centre-forward and he could not keep his balance. Moments later he was not far from getting the vital touch on a wicked James cross.
The Abraham action continued when he was the focus of a VAR check for a Chelsea penalty but the review deemed Caglar Soyuncu had not fouled him. Still, the Blues were attacking with pace and precision.
There was little from Leicester until midway through the half when Jamie Vardy escaped the marking. Caballero saved well with his legs. That was the home side’s one shot on target before the break.
Kante was in the right place to thwart another of their attacks before Pedro scooped towards goal, Kasper Schmeichel tipping it over before at the other end, Harvey Barnes wastefully blasted the ball over the Chelsea bar. It would not be the England Under-21 international's worse miss. A game which had seen the Blues dominate the early stages was becoming end to end. Ben Chilwell went close when a Leicester corner fell his way.Approaching half-time, Chelsea began to turn the screw again as we forced Leicester into errors in their own half. Mount had a shot blocked and there were a succession of clearances by the Foxes from deep inside their penalty area.Just before half-time, Mount, Abraham and Hudson-Odoi combined but given too much to do, Callum could not keep his shot down. There was still time for a Leicester counter-attack followed by a corner but they did not make them count. Hamza Choudhury thankfully planted his header just wide of the Chelsea post.
No hanging around
There was less than a minute played after the restart when Rudiger at the far post rose highest and headed in Mount’s corner. The dance moves were out as the German celebrated his first goal of the season.
Another Caballero intervention with his legs prevented Chilwell causing danger straightaway but he could do nothing about Barnes’ equaliser on 54 minutes which curled beyond him from out wide via a deflection and went in off the far post.Leicester went ahead 10 minutes later when Chilwell finished well from a pass from the other side of the area by Tielemans. Caballero was unable to make it back across goal in time having chased a ball out wide moments before.Caballero saved a shot from Tielemans before Rudiger’s head did the trick again, this time meeting Mount’s free-kick in the 71st minute to send the ball arcing past Schmeichel. It was a superb header. He grabbed the ball out of the net and raced back to halfway. Toni wanted a hat-trick!
The Foxes were then guilty of their two glaring misses – the first by Jonny Evans from the type of chance Rudiger was gobbling up and the second from the boot of Barnes.In stoppage time there was a VAR review for a penalty for handball against Rudiger but his arms were tucked in, so the game ended 2-2, the second draw between these sides this season.
The wait for our former Academy coach Brendan Rodgers to record his first win against Chelsea continues. His record is now W0, D8, L6.
A rest. The first ever winter break in the Premier League means it is just over two weeks until our next outing. That will be at Stamford Bridge on the evening of Monday 17 February when we host Manchester United.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Caballero; James, Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta (c); Kante, Mount; Jorginho (Kovacic 74); Hudson-Odoi, Abraham (Barkley 83), Pedro (Willian 74).Unused subs Kepa, Tomori, Alonso, Batshuayi.Scorer Rudiger 46, 71Booked Jorginho 56, Kovacic 76
Leicester (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel (c); Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Choudhury; Perez, Tielemans (Praet 80), Maddison, Barnes; Vardy (Iheanacho 80).Unused subs Ward, Justin, Fuchs, Gray, Albrighton.Scorers Barnes 54, Chilwell 64Booked Maddison 61, Evans 90Crowd 32,186Referee Lee Mason