Chelsea slump again as too many players have forgettable nights
Chelsea might just have to start contemplating a relegation battle after they lost 2-1 at high-flying Leicester.
The reigning Premier League champions slumped to their ninth defeat of a dismal campaign following a first-half performance that was toothless, even by their recent poor standards. The visitors dominated possession but produced no real chances with players unwilling to take any risks in the pursuit of a breakthrough.
Leicester, for their part, were well organized without posing too much of a threat until Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy combined to open the scoring, the latter taking advantage of Chelsea's statuesque defending.
The result appeared beyond doubt once Mahrez added the second but at least Chelsea showed a bit of fight after Jose Mourinho changed to three at the back in a quest to get back into the game. Some excellent openings were created -- and missed -- before Loic Remy headed home a Pedro cross to set up a tense finale.
Unfortunately, Chelsea were unable to carve out another opportunity, and they now sit just one point above the bottom three with almost half the season gone.
Player ratings (1-10, 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 -- Dropped an early cross but was otherwise commanding. He could not be blamed for either goal, unlike the defence in front of him.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 5 -- A poor display from somebody who is usually one of the more dependable in the squad. Set the tone by ceding possession cheaply early on and was exposed by Mahrez for the game's second goal.
DF Branislav Ivanovic, 6 -- An up-and-down game for the full-back, who found himself beaten for pace on a number of occasions. At other times, he showed a solidity that was lacking by his teammates.
DF Kurt Zouma, 5 -- His pace helped to combat the threat of Vardy, but he failed to track the striker's run for the opening goal.
DF John Terry, 5 -- Not a great day for the Chelsea skipper. He made the strange decision not to try to intercept Mahrez's cross, which allowed Vardy to ghost in behind him and score. Terry was withdrawn in the second half as Mourinho tried to shake things up.
MF Nemanja Matic, 5 -- Poor decision-making and erratic distribution made life hard for those around him. He seemed to struggle when placed under pressure by an energetic Leicester midfield.
MF Ramires, 6 -- Was busy throughout, though his one major weakness, his passing, was exposed on a number of occasions.
MF Oscar, 5 -- After a man of the match display against Porto, much was expected from the Brazilian at the King Power Stadium. Instead, he was virtually anonymous as the game passed him by until his substitution in the second half.
FW Eden Hazard, 6 -- Had little impact before his enforced withdrawal on the half-hour following a clear foul by Vardy that bizarrely went unpunished.
FW Willian, 5 -- Failed to make a decisive contribution and even saw his fabled set piece delivery drop significantly in quality. Gave the impression that he might be able to produce something without ever quite doing so.
FW Diego Costa, 7 - An improved display from the striker who took up good positions and produced decent movement. Still, he will be disappointed that he could not convert his one big chance after being played in beautifully by Cesc Fabregas.
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MF Pedro, 6 -- Came on for Hazard but served only to frustrate until he delivered an inch-perfect cross for Remy's goal.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 7 -- Provided some creativity that had previously been lacking as Chelsea chased the game.
FW Loic Remy, 6 -- Fluffed an excellent chance before he was presented with a header he simply couldn't miss.
Phil is one of ESPN's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @PhilLythell.