Chelsea capped an excellent week in style with an entertaining 3-1 Premier League win at Leicester City, who ended the game with 10 men.
The Blues’ midweek win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League served to greatly ease the pressure on Graham Potter, and he was given more reason to cheer at the King Power Stadium.
Former Leicester full-back Ben Chilwell gave Chelsea the lead in the 11th minute, and although Patson Daka levelled for the hosts, Kai Havertz’s superb sixth league goal of the season restored the advantage.
Mateo Kovacic made sure of the points with a stunning third, providing further evidence a Chelsea team who added several players in January may finally be starting to click.
Kova great goals!#LeiChe pic.twitter.com/pSh3XU2twO
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 11, 2023
Chilwell broke the deadlock with his second league goal of the season, beating Danny Ward at his near post with a well-struck half-volley.
Leicester almost responded instantly, Daniel Amartey somehow diverting James Maddison’s cross wide from point-blank range with the goal at his mercy.
Joao Felix would have put Chelsea in command had his effort not bounced off the right-hand post, but the visitors were then grateful for the woodwork as Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s deflected long-range effort cannoned off the crossbar.
There was further frustration for Joao Felix when he saw a goal disallowed for offside, and he was then guilty of losing possession just outside his own area as Daka levelled in style, bending a vicious effort just inside the right-hand post.
Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had no answer to that strike but was crucially equal to shots from James Maddison and Kelechi Iheanacho to prevent Leicester completing the turnaround.
There was another twist in added time of an engrossing first half when Chelsea retook the lead, Havertz deftly flicking beyond Ward from Enzo Fernandez’s exquisite ball over the Leicester defence.
Joao Felix was withdrawn by Graham Potter for the second half, but Chelsea continued to create chances, Wesley Fofana seeing a header kept out by Ward, who produced heroics to prevent Havertz doubling his tally shortly after Mykhailo Mudryk had blocked a goal-bound Harry Souttar effort.
After Mudryk saw a goal disallowed, Kovacic had the final say to put the game to bed 12 minutes from time, beating Ward with an acrobatic volley. Wout Faes was then shown a second yellow card for a bad tackle on Carney Chukwuemeka.
What does it mean? Blues cure road woes
Chelsea had gone 10 away games without a win in all competitions, their longest streak since a run of 17 between April 2000 and January 2001.
They deservedly ended it on Saturday, though Potter’s men still face an uphill battle in the fight for European football. Chelsea are 11 points adrift of Tottenham in the final Champions League qualification place.
Leicester are just a point above the relegation zone.
Havertz at the heart
Havertz was instrumental for Chelsea, producing a wondrous finish that restored their lead on the stroke of half-time and then delivering a perfectly weighted cross that Mudryk cushioned into Kovacic’s path to seal victory.
The Germany forward played 16 passes in the final third and completed 13 of them, illustrating his precision in the most important area of the pitch.
Amartey’s awful miss
To say Amartey should have levelled after Chilwell’s opener is putting it lightly. His chance had an expected goals value of 0.97.
Only two opportunities — Luis Sinisterra’s miss versus Brighton and Hove Albion in August (0.99xG) and Gabriel Martinelli’s goal against Aston Villa in February (0.98xG) — have had a higher xG value in the Premier League this season.
Key Opta Facts
– Chelsea have completed the league double over Leicester for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign, while the Blues have won consecutive Premier League away games against the Foxes for the first time since September 2017.
– Leicester have lost their 16th Premier League game of the season, no team has more defeats in the competition in 2022-23 (Southampton also 16), while manager Brendan Rodgers has suffered as many as 16 defeats in a single league season for the first time.
– Leicester conceded first for the ninth consecutive Premier League game, doing so 14 times in total this season; only Southampton (18) and West Ham (17) have shipped the opening goal of the game more often in 2022-23.
– Havertz scored his first Premier League away goal since October (v Brighton and Hove Albion), with his 51st-minute strike the latest Leicester have conceded in the first half of a Premier League match on record (since 2006-07).
Chelsea host Everton next Saturday, when Leicester visit Brentford.
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