Chelsea moved a step closer to winning the Premier League title on Wednesday, as they came from behind to see off relegation strugglers Leicester City 3-1 at the King Power Stadium. It was a plucky performance from the Foxes, though Marc Albrighton's first-half opener was cancelled out early in the second by Didier Drogba, before John Terry and Ramires netted in the game's dying minutes.
Leicester made a bright start to the match, with Nigel Pearson's side retaining the ball in midfield with some surprisingly slick passing. However, Chelsea's last line of defense was characteristically sturdy, and was only breached in the opening exchanges when a glorious Esteban Cambiasso pass sent Leonardo Ulloa into space, though the Argentine couldn't bring the ball under control.
As the half wore on, Chelsea seemed to be growing into the game. They were tightening their grip over possession, and Didier Drogba should've done better when picked out on the edge of the box by Willian. Leicester weren't helped by losing both Andy King and Robert Huth to early injuries.
However, Chelsea failed to ever create a clear-cut chance, and Leicester found a second wind on the stroke of halftime. Paul Konchesky was denied by a diving Petr Čech from inside the area, a few minutes before Jamie Vardy was sent charging down the left, pulling the ball back for Marc Albrighton to slot home for 1-0.
Leicester were buoyed at the halftime break, though were brought back to ground with a bump within minutes of the second period commencing. A low Branislav Ivanović cross was swept home by Drogba from inside the penalty area, levelling things up. Chelsea looked urgent for the first time in the match and should've scored a second seconds later, though Drogba skied the ball over the crossbar.
Chelsea continued in the ascendancy for the remainder of the second half, though it took them until there were just over 10 minutes left before they took the lead. A corner was flicked on by Gary Cahill, though Kasper Schmeichel was powerless to stop John Terry escaping his marker and poking the rebound home from point-blank range.
They wrapped the game up a few minutes later, with Ramires smashing a rocket of a first-time shot into the back of the net from the edge of the area.
Leicester City: Schmeichel; Konchesky, Morgan, Wasilewski, Huth (De Laet 24'), Albrighton; King (James 19'), Cambiasso, Drinkwater; Vardy (Mahrez 77'), Ulloa.
Goals: Albrighton (45+2').
Chelsea: Čech; Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanović; Matić, Ramires; Hazard (Cuadrado 88'), Fàbregas (Mikel 90'), Willian (Zouma 84'); Drogba.
Goals: Drogba (48'), Terry (79'), Ramires (83').
1. Halftime tweaks were the key for Chelsea
When Chelsea were afforded spells in possession by Leicester in the first half, they looked unsure of quite what to do with the ball. On numerous occasions they hopefully hoofed long passes forward -- though with three center-backs up against an elderly Didier Drogba, that was exactly what Leicester would have wanted. José Mourinho was seen on the touchline urging his players to be more patient with their play, trying to drag the hosts' deep defense out of position by teasing them with possession. In the second half, Chelsea were better in this regard, with Willian's movement in particular exploiting Leicester's numerical disadvantage in the wide areas. The only surprise was that it took Chelsea so long to work out how to counter the Leicester strategy.
2. Leicester were still a little unlucky
Last year Sunderland survived relegation with a dramatic run of late results, though -- at risk of sounding wise after Gus Poyet's sacking earlier this season -- their run did have more than a little of the fluke about it. If Leicester manage to survive with a similar charge this season, it will probably seem a little less coincidental. This was a plucky performance from Nigel Pearson's side, who looked capable of keeping the ball with some slick midfield passing, and who richly deserved their lead at the halftime whistle. In the second half they were certainly second best, though the scoreline is rather unflattering for the Foxes. They should take confidence from this performance ahead of their decisive remaining matches.
3. Chelsea are really missing Diego Costa and Loïc Rémy
Didier Drogba got himself on the scoresheet in this match, though that only superficially masks what was a pretty clumsy performance from the 37-year-old forward. He was wasteful with a few chances that should have hit the back of the net, and when Chelsea were attempting to lure Leicester out of position by keeping the ball high up the field, Drogba's passing was more of a hindrance than a help. He'll probably never lose the positional genius that was evident in sparks in this match, but physically and technically he's clearly not going to be much use for much longer. Mourinho will be desperate to get Diego Costa back.