Three games in to his Chelsea reign and still Frank Lampard waits for a performance that lasts for the duration of a game. He got about half an hour out of them as they lost at Manchester United last Sunday and a good bit more as they lost a penalty shoot-out to Liverpool in Istanbul in the Super Cup three days later.
Here, there was only regression. After a blistering start that saw Chelsea score through young Mason Mount in only the seventh minute, Lampard’s team fell away so alarmingly that the final hour of the game belonged almost entirely to Leicester.
Happily for Chelsea’s new manager, his team took a point. So a losing sequence stops at two. But they will need to be better than this, much better than this, if they to prosper against energetic Norwich at Carrow Road at the weekend.
Wilfred Ndidi rises high to head in a corner which levels the score at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday afternoon
The Nigerian midfielder powers his header past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal to make it 1-1
Ndidi (right) makes up for his mistake that allowed Chelsea to score the opening goal in the early stages of the game
Ndidi is congratulated by his Leicester team-mates as Brendan Rodgers’ men celebrate in front of the away section
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND LEAGUE TABLE
CHELSEA: (4-1-2-3) Arrizabalaga 6; Azpilicueta 6, Christensen 6.5, Zouma 6.5, Emerson 6.5; Jorginho 6 (Kovacic 70, 6); Kante 6.5, Mount 7; Pedro 6.5, Giroud 5.5 (Abraham 61, 6) , Pulisic 6 (Willian 70, 6)
SUBS NOT USED: Caballero (GK); Alonso, Barkley, Tomori
GOALS: Mount (7)
BOOKINGS: Jorginho (37)
COACH: Frank Lampard 6
LEICESTER: (4-3-2-1) Schmeichel 6.5; Pereira 6, Evans 7, Soyuncu 6.5, Fuchs 7; Choudhury 7 (Praet 73, 6), Ndidi 6.5, Tielemans 7; Perez 6.5 (Albrighton 79, 6), Maddison 8; Vardy 6.5
SUBS NOT USED: Ward (GK); Justin, Morgan, Iheanacho, Barnes
GOALS: Ndidi (67)
COACH: Brendan Rodgers 7
REFEREE: Oliver Langford 7
MAN OF THE MATCH: James Maddison (Leicester)
VENUE: Stamford Bridge
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Tiredness may have played a part here. It felt unnecessary for UEFA to put Liverpool and Chelsea through extra time last week. Just as Liverpool almost threw away a lead late on at Southampton on Saturday, so Chelsea could not maintain early tempo here.
They started so fast it seemed as though they may roll Leicester over before we had even played for half an hour. Had they taken one of the couple of the chances that followed Mount’s first Chelsea goal then they may well have done.
But once Leicester stopped the early bleeding, they were driven forwards by an excellent midfield performance typified by the terrific James Maddison. On top by the time half-time arrived, Leicester eventually equalised when Wilfred Ndid – at fault for Chelsea’s goal – powered in a header from a corner with 25 minutes to go.
Subsequently, there were more chances and they were almost exclusively Leicester’s. Jamie Vardy dragged a shot across goal while Maddison contributed just about his only mistake of the afternoon, spooning a shot over from eight yards when he really should have scored.
Certainly the game ended in a different fashion to how it had started. Such was Chelsea’s early energy that they almost scored in the first minute. It was very much indicative of what was to come in the opening third.
Mason Mount celebrates scoring his first senior goal for Chelsea after he breaks the deadlock against Leicester
The young midfielder caught Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi napping before superbly firing a shot past Kapser Schmeichel
While he is thrown off balance, Mount (left) is still able to get his shot away as Ndidi (right) tries his best to put him off
Mount wheels away in celebration as the Leicester defence have their heads in their hands after their goal-kick went wrong
The 20-year-old playmaker slides on his knees in front of the Chelsea faithful after giving his side an early lead
Leicester didn’t deal with a straight forward ball in to the penalty area and when it dropped over everybody’s head to Pedro, the Spaniard showed fine anticipation and balance to lash the it goal wards with his right foot as it dropped. The net rippled at the near post and half the stadium went up in celebration. Sadly for Chelsea the ball had struck the side netting.
Chelsea were on the front foot, though, and seemed determined to give Lampard a home win. Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel made a good double save to deny Mount and then Christian Pulisic and from the corner that followed Leicester right-back Ricardo Pereira cleared a ball from the line that looked as though it may have come from his team-mate Jonny Evans at the near post.
Leicester looked disorganised and ragged while Chelsea were vibrant. On the touchline Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers waited patiently for his team to ride out the storm but ultimately they couldn’t do it. It was an awful goal for the visiting team, too.
Schmeichel played a short ball to Evans that was perhaps a little over-deliberate and when he funnelled it on to Ndidi Leicester were soon in trouble. Ndidi is usually a composed and reliable presence in front of his defence but here he dallied in possession and when Mount nipped the ball off is toe the Chelsea youngster ran on to screw it back across Schmeichel and in to the corner with his right foot.
James Maddison creates a glorious chance after rounding Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga but he can’t find a team-mate
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy (left) watches as his shot is saved by Arrizabalaga but the linesman had his flag up
Schmeichel possibly could have done better and looked a little off balance. But the blame lay elsewhere and Leicester were now facing a problem purely of their own making.
For a while Chelsea continued to press. Mount may have done better than head a Cesar Azpilicueta cross straight at the goalkeeper in the 21st minute before only a tackle from Leicester central defender Caglar Soyuncu prevented Lampard’s team scoring one of the goals of the season five minutes later.
Full-back Emerson advanced down the left and when his near post cross was back heeled beautifully by Olivier Giroud in to the path of the galloping N’Golo Kante, only a well-timed lunge by Soyuncu diverted the close-range shot wide from six yards.
At this stage, Leicester hadn’t been able to enough of the ball to threaten but that was to change as the first half wore on. They didn’t create anything – only threatening when Vardy almost caught Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in possession – but they did spend much of the time leading up the break in the Chelsea half and this pattern continued early in the second period.
It wasn’t long before they almost broke through. A dash through the lines by Maddison saw him through on goal, albeit at a tight angle. The Leicester midfielder managed to evade the attention of Kepa but when he pulled the ball back towards the penalty spot Chelsea were able to clear.
With almost an hour gone, Chelsea still had their lead but the game looked and felt different. In the top tier of the Shed End, the Leicester fans found their voice and when young midfielder Hamza Choudhury curled a shot in to the arms of the diving Kepa and then Maddison drilled an effort of his across goal and narrowly wide it was a sign of an increasing threat.
James Maddison (centre) had a glorious chance to put Leicester in front after he brilliantly created space in the area
However, Leicester’s No 10 blasts his shot high over the bar, squandering the brilliant chance for his side
With 120 minutes of Super Cup football in their legs from last Wednesday night, it was possible that tiredness was beginning to affect Chelsea. Certainly Leicester looked stronger than their opponents with 25 minutes to go. Maddison had the run of the midfield at this stage and all that was missing was the right ball through to Vardy.
Soon, a goal came as Ndidi made amends for his earlier error. A buccaneering run down the left by full-back Christian Fuchs was impressive and when his cross was deflected behind, Ndid rose above Andreas Christensen to thump a header past Kepa from eight yards.
It was a goal that had been coming and everybody here knew it. It prompted a double change from Lampard as fit-again Willian and also Mateo Kovacic were sent on in place of Pulisic and Jorginho. With Tammy Abraham already on for Giroud, Lampard had played all his cards with 20 minutes still to go.
Certainly, his team needed some fresh energy but it didn’t do much to change things initially as Maddison missed a glorious chance to put Leicester ahead, shooting over from only eight yards after a Fuchs cross found its way to him.
By now the spaces in the middle of the field were so large that Leicester couldn’t do anything but occupy him. They did not look like a team happy to go home with a draw and that was understandable.
Vardy could have scored when Maddison played him through with 14 minutes left only for the shot to miss the far post by an inch or two.
Leicester Austrian defender Christian Fuchs (left) and Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta (right) jump to head the ball
Jorginho (left) chases Leicester right-back Ricardo Pereira (right) who plays a pass to his team-mate