Chelsea Draw At Leicester To Finish Third

12th May 2019
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Gonzalo Higuain has scored five goal in 17 games for Chelsea since joining them on loan.

Leicester and Chelsea played out a low-key end-of-season affair which ended goalless at the King Power Stadium.

The result ensured Chelsea finished their first Premier League campaign under Italian manager Maurizio Sarri in third.

Sarri’s side began brightly despite the absence of Eden Hazard, who started on the substitutes’ bench.

Pedro and Willian both carried a threat, but Gonzalo Higuain missed the pick of their chances from close range before the contest fizzled out.

Leicester – who have enjoyed a renaissance since Brendan Rodgers took charge in February, collecting 17 points over the last nine games – end the season in ninth.

Toothless Chelsea

While Chelsea’s play was neat, tidy and carried an occasional threat, the first period served up a look at what life might be like without Hazard in the future.

The Belgium international has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than any other player this season, with 16 goals and 15 assists.

And without their talismanic forward, Sarri’s side were unable to turn their dominance into the reward of an opening goal, with only three of their eight shots finding the target.

Ross Barkley set the tone with an effort that was brilliantly saved by home goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in the third minute.

But that early promise dissolved particularly once Higuain spurned the best opportunity of the game.

The 31-year-old Argentina international managed to hit his standing leg from six yards out when completely unmarked, bringing a sweeping Chelsea move to an unfortunate conclusion.

A look to the future under Rodgers

Leicester began this contest hoping to complete their first league double over Chelsea since 2000-01, but they were slow out of the blocks in a game that was ultimately inconsequential to both the top and bottom of the table.

Unlike the visitors who still have an end-of-season showpiece in the form of an all-English Europa League final against Arsenal, the Foxes had no such ongoing concerns.

Their improvement under Rodgers has long since assured their Premier League status and a victory here could have only brought an eighth-place finish.

There was a nod to the past, with 2015-16 Premier League title winners Shinji Okazaki and Danny Simpson emerging as second-half substitutes to rapturous ovations.

Both are out of contract and set to depart the club this summer, but there was also the promise of the future with 21-year-old midfielder Hamza Choudhury starting his third consecutive game and Harvey Barnes being introduced from the bench.

Choudhury, an England Under-21 international, volleyed over in the first period with Leicester’s first chance of note, while Barnes laid on a late chance for Youri Tielemans.

Man of the match – Harry Maguire (Leicester City)

Harry Maguire
Leicester’s Harry Maguire made more clearances than any other player while not giving the ball away once when stepping out of defence

‘It’s time to respect his decision’ – what they said

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri speaking to Sky Sports: “Eden [Hazard] was tired today so he was on the bench. We tried to win with him later on in the last 25 minutes. I think Eden has played here in Chelsea for seven seasons, trying in every match to do his best and now it’s time to respect his decision, but I hope he will remain with us.

“The season is good. We were in trouble two or three months ago but third place is a very good result. Now we have to go to Baku for the Europa League final and we have the chance for our season to be wonderful.”

On playing a friendly in the United States in midweek: “It’s a double feeling. I’m happy because we go there for a good reason. As a coach I am worried because we are tired and need to rest.”

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers: “It was a very good game. They had one or two chances as did we. I was pleased with the mentality of the players and we didn’t concede, which was important.

“Jamie [Vardy] is a constant threat – we had a few moments where we got in but it was just that final pass. The quality we showed at times was very good.

“They want to learn. We beat Arsenal, played well against Manchester City and got a point today. People thought we would not get any points from the last three games. It’s been a nice induction into the club – the players have been good, the supporters. We’ll now add that bit of depth to the squad.”

Golden oldie Caballero – the stats

  • There has been just one goal scored in the last three Premier League meetings between Leicester and Chelsea.
  • This was Chelsea’s fourth goalless draw in the Premier League this season, their most since 2013-14 (also four).
  • Chelsea won just two of their last nine Premier League away games this season (W2 D2 L5), drawing their last two.
  • Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has faced Chelsea more often than any other Premier League side without winning (nine games – W0 D5 L4).
  • Chelsea ended the season in 3rd position, the 13th time in the last 16 seasons they’ve finished in the top-three of the Premier League.
  • Willy Caballero, aged 37 years and 226 days, became Chelsea’s second oldest Premier League player – only Mark Schwarzer has featured for the Blues at an older age (41y 217d in May 2014).

What’s next?

Chelsea travel to the United States for a friendly against New England Revolution on Wednesday, 15 May before they face Arsenal in an all-English Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan on Wednesday, 29 May (20:00 BST).

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