Leicester City returned to the top of the Premier League
and increased the pressure on Chelsea manager Jose
Mourinho with victory at King Power Stadium.
Jamie Vardy’s 15th goal of the season put Leicester ahead
before half-time and Riyad Mahrez’s brilliant curling strike just
after the break sealed the win for Claudio Ranieri’s side.
Chelsea substitute Loic Remy pulled one back but Leicester
survived in relative comfort to move back ahead of Manchester
City at the top of the table.
The reigning Premier League champions, in contrast, lie just a
point off the relegation zone in 16th place with Mourinho
fighting for survival.
Follow all the reaction to Leicester’s win over Chelsea
The ‘Tinkerman’ torments the ‘Special One’
Ranieri has been in Mourinho’s shadow from the time he was
succeeded at Stamford Bridge by “The Special One” in 2004
and relations between the pair have often been fractious.
They are more cordial now – but how the 64-year-old, hugely
popular Italian will have enjoyed the sweet taste of victory
against his former club on Monday.
Chelsea have looked lethargic on many occasions this season
but rarely have they looked as ragged, pedestrian and off the
pace as they were against the Foxes.
From the first whistle the pace and movement of Jamie Vardy
and Riyad Mahrez immediately exposed John Terry, in
particular, in the style that has troubled so many teams on
Leicester’s remarkable rise to the top.
As Leicester pressed and pushed, Chelsea retreated on to the
back foot. Ranieri’s side looked high on confidence and
adrenalin, the reigning champions fearful and tentative.
It was barely believable that only seven months ago Chelsea
were crowned champions and Leicester were pulling off a
remarkable escape from what looked certain relegation. This
night underscored what has been a remarkable role reversal
this season, and ensured Leicester’s best start to a top-flight
season in their 131-year history.
Savage v Terry: Round three
How much longer can Mourinho survive?
The Premier League title and credit in the bank means
Mourinho has been afforded far more patience than is
customary by owner Roman Abramovich.
Leicester deservedly inflicted a ninth loss in 16 games on
Chelsea at a thunderous King Power Stadium and with
suggestions Mourinho could ill-afford to lose either here or
against Porto in the Champions League, he has surely been
pushed closer to the edge.
Mourinho has said Abramovich would not “change with the
wind” – but it is firmly blowing against the Portuguese now and
he will need something out of character with Chelsea’s season
He may be getting a stay of execution because there is no
natural heir apparent or guarantee of improvement – the
currently unemployed Carlo Ancelotti having already
experienced a sacking at Abramovich’s hands.
It is highly unlikely, and against all his natural instincts, that
Abramovich will let this continue. And with the prospect of any
European football of any kind next season receding, the clock
must be ticking.
‘Go and get me a cup of tea, Cesar Azpilicueta’
Time up for John Terry?
John Terry has been the bedrock of all Chelsea’s modern-day
successes – but the centre-back looked old and fraying at the
edges in the face of the pace, verve and movement of Vardy
He was not alone as they threatened to run Chelsea’s defence
ragged and Terry being replaced by Cesc Fabregas after only 53
minutes was a sign of the times, not just of this night.
Terry has been a magnificent servant for Chelsea but the
captain who turned 35 on 7 December looks like he is feeling
Father Time’s tap on his shoulder.
Throw in 31-year-old Branislav Ivanovic, a shadow of his
former self this season, and you are left with a Chelsea defence
in need of serious renewal despite the promise of Kurt Zouma,
Mourinho recognised as much in the summer when Chelsea
edged the bidding up towards £40m for Everton’s John Stones,
only to be met with total resistance at Goodison Park.
They could, of course, return for Stones in January but
Everton’s mood has not changed. The young defender is now
firmly settled and is unlikely to want any potential upheaval
anyway with Euro 2016 on the horizon.
The sight of Terry making his way to the bench so early on in
the second half only emphasises the urgency of Chelsea’s
Man of the match: Riyad Mahrez
Stats you need to know
Leicester have scored in every Premier League game this
Jamie Vardy has now scored or assisted in 14 consecutive
Premier League games.
Only Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
(18) has netted more goals in Europe’s top five leagues this
season than Jamie Vardy (15).
That was Chelsea and Jose Mourinho’s ninth defeat in the
Premier League this season – the same number as in
2013-14 (6) and 2014-15 (3) combined.
The Blues have lost 9+ of their opening 16 top-flight games
for the first time since 1978-79, a season in which they
Ninety-six teams have gained 15 points or fewer from
their opening 16 games, 50 were relegated and the
average finishing position of those 96 teams was 17th.
Leicester will have a further test of their title credentials in their
next three games, away at Everton on Saturday, then a trip to
Liverpool on Boxing Day before hosting Manchester City on 29
December. Chelsea host Sunderland and Watford before
travelling to Manchester United on 28 December.