Chelsea remain winless in 2018 after Antonio Conte’s misfiring charges recorded their third successive goalless draw.
Despite having a numerical advantage for the final 20 minutes following Ben Chilwell’s red card, the Blues could not find a winning goal against a Leicester City side that enjoyed prolonged spells of dominance.
Chelsea have now played more than 270 minutes of football in all competitions without scoring and have dropped to fourth place in the Premier League table as a result of Liverpool’s victory over Manchester City. Leicester remain eighth and continue their good form since Claude Puel’s appointment as manager.
Here are three talking points…
Chelsea’s goal scoring problems are mounting
Much has been written about Alvaro Morata’s goalscoring drought, which extended to five matches after he failed to register a single effort in this clash, but Chelsea’s goalscoring issues go much deeper.
Since the 2-2 draw against Arsenal on January 3, the Blues have failed to find the back of the net. None of the top six clubs have scored fewer than Chelsea’s current tally of 41 Premier League goals for the season.
There is no doubt the burden has rested heavily on Morata and when he was in fine form during the first few months of the campaign, Chelsea were often rampant. But the Spaniard’s barren spell has coincided with a downturn in the Blues’ effectiveness.
The problem for Conte is he has little faith in back-up striker Michy Batshuayi. There is no other obvious candidate to act as the focal point, although the Italian has previously experimented with a false number nine.
Defensively, Chelsea are very solid, but that counts for little when they fail to score.
Leicester grab a point despite Chilwell’s red
It’s not often a player receives two yellow cards in a matter of minutes, but that’s exactly the fate that befell Leicester’s Ben Chilwell.
After being cautioned for a foul on Willian, the Leicester man then received a second booking only five minutes later for bringing down Victor Moses.
Both fouls were fairly innocuous and Chilwell’s dismissal disrupted the Foxes’ performance, which had threatened to claim all three points at Stamford Bridge.
Leicester boss Puel was critical of Mike Jones’ decision to send off Chilwell, which may have come under more scrutiny had Chelsea gone on to win the game.
As it was, the visitors held out for a point, which was the least they deserved. Jamie Vardy twice went close to breaking the deadlock and Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois had to be alert throughout.
This was definitely not a rearguard display – Leicester created numerous chances and were keen to take the game to their high-flying opponents.
Tiredness to blame – Conte
Chelsea boss Conte blamed tiredness for his side’s failure to win for the fourth game in a row. This fixture came just three days after their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal, amid a run of seven games in 21 days.
The Blues return to action again against Norwich City for an FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday night. In total, Chelsea will play eight games in January after playing nine in December.
There’s no doubt it is a punishing schedule, but Chelsea are not alone in that regard. A club with their squad depth should be able to cope. Conte has rotated his squad, particularly for the cup games, and is sure to field a much-changed side for the Norwich replay.
Of course, if the Blues were winning matches there would be no need to raise the fatigue element as an excuse.