Chelsea’s superiority was so clear it almost seemed unfair. The Premier League leaders extended their imperious away form under Thomas Tuchel with a fourth successive win on the road without conceding as Leicester City were offered a smarting reminder of what they are missing.
It was 2008 that Chelsea last managed such a run as goals from Antonio Rüdiger, N’Golo Kanté and Christian Pulisic were the least they deserved but Leicester, missing the injured Youri Tielemans, seem to have lost their way. No team have suffered as many as their 12 home defeats since the start of last season.
They have had some great times since winning the Premier League in 2016, of course, not least in winning the FA Cup against these opponents at Wembley six months ago, but the fact that two of their best players from five years ago were starring for Chelsea here only underlined the perspective of where these teams lie in the grand scheme of things.
If their fans thought it was a good idea to boo Ben Chilwell for the manner of his departure 18 months ago, then the England left-back soon disabused them of the notion by making the first goal and helping run the show. Chelsea also had three goals disallowed, as did Ademola Lookman for the home side, and a 6-1 scoreline would not have been out of keeping with the match.
Tuchel praised his team’s “huge effort” in a “mature performance” and acknowledged that the wing-back system is once again bringing the best out of Chelsea’s attacking versatility. Chilwell seemed to be playing inside-left for some of the second half, while Reece James frequently patrolled the centre circle.
“We understand better the whole team where we can take risks and change our positions, while not taking crazy decisions” the Chelsea manager said. “We have some wide momentum with our wing-backs, who know when to support our attackers.”
Brendan Rodgers may have attempted to match up Chelsea’s 3-4-3 shape but, two goals to the good by half-time, Tuchel’s table-toppers dominated possession, with 70% in the opening 45 minutes. Leicester did not muster a shot until Daniel Amartey’s blasted effort in the 63rd minute was superbly tipped over by Édouard Mendy in the visiting goal.
Chilwell had already shot against the crossbar before he delivered the corner from which Rüdiger flicked home a header in the 14th minute. The Chelsea fans reminded the home contingent: “Ben Chilwell’s won the European Cup.”
Boubakary Soumaré’s role was presumably to keep Kante quiet but the other former Leicester man ran off the back of him from a throw-in, proceeded goalwards without anyone coming out and then let fly a left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area right into the corner of Kasper Schmeichel’s goal.
Leicester were better for the third quarter of the game, after James Maddison and Kelechi Iheanacho came on at the break and played slightly narrower, but when Tuchel introduced a pair of substitutes, they promptly combined for the goal that killed the game. Hakim Ziyech checked back inside Caglar Soyuncu and passed just behind Jonny Evans for Pulisic to show neat control and score from close range.
Rodgers criticised the Leicester supporters for jeering his side off at half-time. “It was very disappointing,” he said. “I think I have a sense of perspective of where this team has come from over the last couple of years.
“We have totally overachieved, not just arriving in the top six but challenging teams which are way above us in terms of budget.
“That is something so important for a player because they need that shot in the arm. We always respect the supporters’ feelings, but I also have a sense of perspective.”
He also denied that suggestions he could become Manchester United’s next manager if Ole Gunnar Solskjær leaves contributed to the performance. “I said in the week that it is nothing that is real,” he said.” I spoke to the players on that. It is nothing to do with that.”