Chelsea had to settle for a point against Leicester City, but the statistics from the match suggest we deserved more than a draw from a game we dominated.
We went behind early on to James Maddison’s low drive from outside the box but levelled the scores through a fine volley by Marcos Alonso, controlling possession for virtually the full 90 minutes.
However, we couldn’t find the second goal we needed for the win, being unable to convert our chances, particularly in the second half, and being thwarted by goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel when we did find the target.
Some of the statistics from the match against Leicester are quite striking, starting with the expected goals ratio which suggests a 2-0 win for Chelsea would have been a more reflective outcome, while showing Leicester somehow managed to score despite their expected goals being just 0.1.
In fact, in every statistic you could think of, the Blues’ dominance at the Bridge was clear. Our 67 per cent possession was high, if far from the highest this Chelsea team have managed this season, but territorially it was even more telling.
A massive 41 per cent of the game was played in Leicester’s third of the pitch, with just 14 per cent in our own. That is despite Thomas Tuchel’s side liking to build from the back with our centre-backs, as even they spent most of their time on the ball further up the pitch.
We played 750 passes to Leicester’s 370, but it says a lot that 154 of those passes by the Foxes were inside their own defensive third. In a rarity, the Foxes didn’t have a single corner in the whole match.
We seemed to be creating openings too, even if we couldn’t manage to convert them into the second goal. In total, the Blues had 20 shots, with only five of them off target, but eight were blocked by Leicester players and, of the remaining seven which made their way through to Schmeichel’s goal, six were saved by the keeper.
In contrast, the visitors had just two shots in the 90 minutes, both from outside the penalty area, with their only effort on target finding the back of the net to force a 1-1 draw.
Searching for space
However, Leicester defended deep and closed out the spaces in their box to frustrate the Blues and make it difficult to find clear sights of goal, which explains why so many of our attempts were blocked.
Much of our effort to break them down was focused on our right flank, where Reece James and Hakim Ziyech were up against the relatively inexperienced wing-back George Thomas, who was backed up by Daniel Amartey, a natural midfielder converted to a left-back and playing in a back three at the Bridge.
The Blues duo certainly caused their opponents plenty of problems, even if it didn’t result in the goal we wanted. James (six) and Ziyech (five) attempted the most dribbles – alongside Christian Pulisic (also five) – and had plenty of success with them. In fact, James impressively beat his man with all six, which is more than the entire Leicester team managed combined.
Thomas, on the other hand, attempted more tackles than anybody else (nine) but managed to win the ball with just two of them. Even substitute Cesar Azpilicueta attempted and completed three dribbles during his 18 minutes on the right, and for all the Spaniard’s qualities he isn’t someone you would usually associate with taking on and beating defenders.
While James and Ziyech did a lot of good work down the right in trying to find a way around Leicester’s defence, they were both also roaming to try and find new areas of space to exploit, with Ziyech frequently popping up in the centre or even the left wing, and James ended the game playing in the centre of midfield after Tuchel’s substitutions.
With Leicester’s massed ranks making a route through into their box difficult, and the target of Romelu Lukaku to aim for, we also used crosses into the box frequently as a way to get the ball into dangerous areas.
We delivered 26 crosses compared to Leicester’s four, primarily through Alonso (seven) and Ziyech (12). The Moroccan also had more shots than anyone else, with his seven putting him ahead of second-placed James with four.
The way the Foxes gave up ground also allowed Jorginho to step higher up the pitch from midfield than we usually see him operating, becoming the player trying to find the final pass rather than building moves from deep. That saw him provide four of our 16 key passes, one ahead of James’ three, although it was the latter who provided the assist from a similar central possession outside Leicester’s box.