Chelsea beat Leicester to go seven points clear

Marcos Alonso puts Chelsea ahead at Leicester

Marcos Alonso scored twice as Chelsea beat Leicester to move seven points clear at the top of the Premier League, despite Diego Costa’s absence.

The Blues were without their top scorer after a training ground dispute over his fitness, amid reports he has been offered a lucrative move to China.

That saga did not affect them at the King Power Stadium, however, with Eden Hazard setting up Alonso to fire home after only six minutes.

The Spanish wing-back added his second early in the second half when his shot from the edge of the area was deflected home.

Pedro made sure of the points with a deft header from Willian’s cross.

Leicester, lining up in a new-look 3-5-2 formation, struggled to find a way back into the game.

Ahmed Musa had tested Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois before his side fell behind, but the defending champions did not manage another shot on target.

Chelsea show they can win without Costa

Before kick-off, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte had played down any row involving Costa, claiming he was not in his squad because of a back injury.

Whatever the truth behind Costa’s absence, the Blues showed again that they can win without the Spain striker, who has scored 14 goals and provided five assists for them this season.

Chelsea initially had to work harder for the points than they did when Costa was suspended in their 3-0 victory over Bournemouth on 26 December – the only other league game he has missed in 2016-17.

Again they used Eden Hazard to lead the line rather than turn to £33m summer signing Michy Batshuayi, who was left on the bench and still awaits his first league start.

Alonso, rather than Hazard, will get the headlines on this occasion, but Chelsea’s dominant performance was further evidence it will be hard to dislodge them from top spot.

Man of the match – Marcos Alonso

Marcos Alonso celebrates his second goal<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

Chelsea return to winning ways

This was Chelsea’s 12th clean sheet in 21 games and, even without Costa’s belligerent presence up front, they remain difficult to break down and dangerous when they come forward.

Conte’s side had seen their 13-game winning streak ended by Tottenham in their previous Premier League game, but that remains their only defeat since the end of September.

Spurs’ emphatic win over West Brom earlier on Saturday had reduced the Blues’ lead to four points, but if Chelsea are feeling any pressure in the title race they did not show it here.

Their form is becoming ominous for the chasing pack, and Liverpool – their nearest rivals before the weekend – can ill afford to lose any more ground when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

New-look Leicester fail to click

Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri, named Fifa’s coach of the year this week, attempted to match Chelsea’s formation by playing with wing-backs of his own – but his experiment did not pay off.

Albrighton and Ben Chilwell failed to make the same impact as their opposite numbers, Alonso and Victor Moses, and the Foxes struggled to create chances.

England striker Jamie Vardy was back from suspension to lead their attack, but he made little impression apart from playing one dangerous cross and did not manage a single shot.

Leicester are still six points above the relegation zone despite this defeat but, with Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Daniel Amarty away at the African Cup of Nations, Ranieri must find a better blend with the players still at his disposal.

What next?

Chelsea host struggling Hull on Sunday, 22 January (16:30 GMT kick-off). Leicester travel to Southampton for a 12:00 kick-off on the same day, hoping for their first away win of a disappointing domestic season.

Line-ups

Leicester

  • 1Schmeichel
  • 5Morgan
  • 6HuthSubstituted forOkazakiat 60′minutes
  • 28FuchsBooked at 51mins
  • 11AlbrightonSubstituted forSimpsonat 77′minutes
  • 4Drinkwater
  • 25Ndidi
  • 24Mendy
  • 3Chilwell
  • 9Vardy
  • 7MusaSubstituted forGrayat 71′minutes

Substitutes

  • 10King
  • 14Kapustka
  • 17Simpson
  • 20Okazaki
  • 21Zieler
  • 22Gray
  • 27Wasilewski

Chelsea

  • 13Courtois
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 30David Luiz
  • 24Cahill
  • 15Moses
  • 7Kanté
  • 21Matic
  • 3Alonso
  • 22WillianSubstituted forBatshuayiat 84′minutes
  • 10HazardSubstituted forFàbregasat 79′minutes
  • 11PedroSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 84′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Begovic
  • 2Ivanovic
  • 4Fàbregas
  • 5Zouma
  • 14Loftus-Cheek
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 29Chalobah
Referee:
Andre Marriner
Attendance:
32,066

Match Stats

Home TeamLeicesterAway TeamChelsea
Possession
Home35%
Away65%
Shots
Home7
Away8
Shots on Target
Home2
Away3
Corners
Home3
Away5
Fouls
Home8
Away9

Live Text

Match ends, Leicester City 0, Chelsea 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Leicester City 0, Chelsea 3.

Foul by Gary Cahill (Chelsea).

Demarai Gray (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Christian Fuchs (Leicester City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Daniel Drinkwater.

Foul by Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea).

Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Christian Fuchs (Leicester City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Ben Chilwell with a headed pass.

Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Marcos Alonso.

Foul by N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea).

Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Demarai Gray (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaces Pedro.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Michy Batshuayi replaces Willian.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Cesc Fàbregas replaces Eden Hazard.

Attempt missed. Ben Chilwell (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Daniel Drinkwater.

Substitution

Substitution, Leicester City. Danny Simpson replaces Marc Albrighton.

Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Marcos Alonso.

Foul by Nemanja Matic (Chelsea).

Demarai Gray (Leicester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Leicester City. Demarai Gray replaces Ahmed Musa.

Goal!

Goal! Leicester City 0, Chelsea 3. Pedro (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

Offside, Leicester City. Kasper Schmeichel tries a through ball, but Jamie Vardy is caught offside.

Victor Moses (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City).

Attempt missed. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Victor Moses with a cross.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Wes Morgan.

Attempt blocked. Gary Cahill (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Daniel Drinkwater.

Substitution

Substitution, Leicester City. Shinji Okazaki replaces Robert Huth.

David Luiz (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).

Goal!

Goal! Leicester City 0, Chelsea 2. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner following a set piece situation.

Booking

Christian Fuchs (Leicester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Christian Fuchs (Leicester City).

Attempt blocked. Willian (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Eden Hazard.

Second Half

Second Half begins Leicester City 0, Chelsea 1.

Half Time

First Half ends, Leicester City 0, Chelsea 1.

Attempt missed. Pedro (Chelsea) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Eden Hazard following a set piece situation.

goal

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