Antonio Conte coming under pressure at Chelsea and other things learned from 0-0 draw with Leicester

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Chelsea‘s poor form of late continued as they could only manage a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge against Leicester City on Saturday.

The Premier League champions were unable to break the deadlock and were fortunate not to conceded themselves.

Here’s what we learned from the encounter.

MORATA WOES PERSIST

The good news for Alvaro Morata is that he didn’t add to his six one-on-one misses over the previous two games. The bad news is that he didn’t even do enough to get into a decent goal-scoring position.

The Spaniard struggled to get involved in the game. His best moment came when he ran down the left flank, got to the byline and forced a corner.

He failed to register a single shot on goal despite playing the full 90 minutes and his touch let him down on a few occasions as well. He’s now gone five games without scoring, compounding Chelsea’s goal-scoring woes.

Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata

CONTE NO LONGER SITTING PRETTY

Antonio Conte is starting to come under pressure at Stamford Bridge after a second listless 0-0 draw within days. The Italian was criticised for his lack of attacking play against a depleted Arsenal side in their midweek League Cup semi-final clash at home.

The Blues were equally underwhelming in the final third against Leicester and in fact were lucky not to concede with the home support growing frustrated with their side.

There were several moans and groans around the Bridge over the course of the game as the home team failed to create anything of note.

Conte’s bold decision to sub off both Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard before the hour-mark was also met with discontent and was a move that ultimately didn’t pay off.

Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte

MAHREZ THE SPARK CHELSEA NEED

Riyadh Mahrez has been in phenomenal form and delivered another masterclass against Chelsea.

He may not have helped Leicester break the deadlock but he was the one who looked most likely to. The Algerian was different class, weaving his way past blue shirts and creating chance after chance.

His acceleration, touch and vision had the Chelsea defence scrambling. With Hazard often being crowded out, Chelsea could do with another creative force cut from the same cloth and Mahrez certainly fits that billing.

It’s a known fact that he’s been angling for a move away from Leicester since the end of their title-winning campaign and while he’s been consistently linked with a move to Arsenal, perhaps Chelsea should’ve lodged an interest.

Will they end up regretting opting for Ross Barkley instead?

Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez

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Chelsea held to frustrating goalless draw against Leicester at Stamford Bridge

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Chelsea endured a third successive goalless draw in an enthralling encounter against excellent 10-man Leicester.

Antonio Conte had been wary of the Foxes and his concern proved well founded as the movement and energy of Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki troubled Chelsea.

Leicester were relentless, playing like champions, with the intensity of their pressing forcing mistakes.

Ben Chilwell was sent off for two bookable offences in quick succession, leaving the visitors down to 10 men with 22 minutes remaining.

Yet still Chelsea, who had won their previous seven Premier League home games since September’s loss to Manchester City, could not break the Foxes down as the Blues followed stalemates with Norwich and Arsenal with a third in a week.

Conte tinkered with his defence for the visit of Chelsea’s predecessors as champions.

David Luiz was Conte’s first choice in the centre of his back three in last season’s title-winning campaign.

Now the Brazilian is apparently not even second choice as Gary Cahill was deployed in the central role, with Andreas Christensen rested on the bench alongside Luiz.

Cahill lasted just 33 minutes before going off clutching his right hamstring.

He had been given a torrid time by Vardy, who showed no signs of the groin injury which deprived him of a return to his former club Fleetwood a week ago.

The Foxes cut through their hosts time and again, with left-back Chilwell creating chances for Okazaki and Vardy, who next dragged an effort wide across goal.

Wilfred Ndidi’s free header was saved by Thibaut Courtois before Cesc Fabregas forced a save from Kasper Schmeichel at the other end.

Only a well-timed Cahill tackle stopped Mahrez from shooting following a mazy run and then Eden Hazard should have punished the Foxes at the other end, only to shoot tamely at Schmeichel.

A race with Vardy culminated in Cahill stretching for the ball before hobbling off. Christensen went on, with Luiz not even asked to warm up.

Mahrez then drilled the ball across goal, but there was no-one in a black and gold shirt to convert.

Vardy then robbed Antonio Rudiger inside his own box. The ball went to Okazaki, whose effort was blocked into the path of Marc Albrighton. He fired wide.

Schmeichel saved from Fabregas before the break and Leicester continued to pressurise their hosts on the resumption.

Vardy nicked the ball off Christensen and found Mahrez, who initiated contact by kicking the Denmark defender.

The Foxes forward went to ground, seeking a penalty, but referee Mike Jones was unmoved and not inclined to dole out a yellow card for diving.

Mahrez next blasted a shot into Christensen and it deflected wide.

Conte had seen enough and made his final two changes. Willian and Pedro were sent on for the ineffective Hazard and Fabregas.

Willian lured a foul from Chilwell, who was booked after 63 minutes.

The left-back then caught Victor Moses late and was sent off after 68 minutes.

Long-range shots from Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko were symptomatic of Chelsea’s struggles to break Leicester down.

And Schmeichel turned a Marcos Alonso free-kick behind for a corner in stoppage time as Chelsea missed their last chance.

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Chelsea player ratings as Alvaro Morata scores a 4 and Cesc Fabregas gets a 5 against Leicester

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Chelsea could only manage a point at home to Leicester City in the Premier League as they played out a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

The away side looked the more likely to score and were unfortunate not to get on the score sheet before Ben Chilwell received a second yellow in the 73rd minute.

Here, we rate the Chelsea players.

CHELSEA

THIBAUT COURTOIS: Despite Chelsea being under pressure from Leicester over periods in the first half in particular, the Belgian didn’t really have a save to make. 6

CESAR AZPILICUETA: Had his hands full with the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez but did well to keep up and didn’t put a foot wrong. 7

GARY CAHILL: Struggled with Vardy’s pace and movement early on. Pulled his hamstring and had to be replaced after 33 minutes. 5

ANTONIO RUDIGER: A bit clumsy in a tackle, especially when trying to contain Mahrez but didn’t do too much wrong, was good in the air and made a few clearances. 7

VICTOR MOSES: Provided plenty of width down the right and managed to get a couple of shots away as well. 7

TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO: Didn’t have his shooting boots on but insisted on having a go more times (3) than any other Chelsea player anyway and was wayward at best. Was better at breaking down a few Leicester attacks though. 6

N’GOLO KANTE: Was buzzing against his former side, driving forward and making some good tackles as well. Was in danger of being a little too enthusiastic though and was walking a tightrope after his booking. 7

CESC FABREGAS: He wasn’t at his best in terms of passing, providing just one key pass and registering an accuracy of 76.9%. His best moment was a shot from distance which was tipped over the bar. Was replaced in the 58th minute. 5

MARCOS ALONSO: Had one good effort from a free-kick at the death but contributed little other wise. 6

EDEN HAZARD: Was excellent at the start and had Leicester players falling over themselves but couldn’t find a killer pass and managed just one shot. Was hauled off before the hour mark as he began to fade. 6

ALVARO MORATA: Another disappointing performance. Had one good run in the first half when he did well to win a corner. Other than that, his touch was poor and decision-making just as bad. Couldn’t register a single shot throughout the game. 4

Not Hazard's day

Not Hazard’s day

SUBSTITUTES

ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN (for Cahill 33′): Replaced Cahill in the first half and was solid. Did well not be lured into a challenge when Mahrez tried to win a penalty off him. 7

PEDRO (for Fabregas 58′): Couldn’t affect the game enough. Had one shot at goal but didn’t look threatening. 5

WILLIAN (for Hazard 58′): Looked like one of the players who could snatch something for the hosts but wasn’t to be. 6

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