Listless Leicester are sleepwalking towards the drop
THE problem with assuming you are too good to go down is that when you wake up to reality, it can already be too late. Leicester supporters have been worried about relegation for some time. They have called for the manager Brendan Rodgers to be sacked, and booed the team at home games. Foxes fans are a relatively rational bunch yet social media and local radio phone-ins have been flooded by demands for change. King Power Stadium looked half- empty when the whistle blew on Saturday.
The fear is this urgency does not seem to be matched among the players, the coaching staff or even the club hierarchy. Leicester chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, has remained fiercely loyal to Rodgers, one of the club’s best managers of modern times, and urged the fans to stick with him and the players. ‘Addressing our inconsistencies is our primary objective between now and the end of the season,’ wrote Srivaddhanaprabha — known as Khun Top — in the matchday programme. ‘For us to achieve that, it’s absolutely vital we’re all united, working together to give Brendan and the team every chance of winning matches on the pitch.
‘This season, as with every other before it, we’ve been at our best and most successful when the connection between the players on the pitch and the fans in the stadium is at its strongest and loudest.
‘That relationship is our most valuable asset. If deployed in the way it can be and combined with the quality and commitment of the team on the pitch, it can elevate the team to the heights of which we know they are capable.’
There is nothing wrong with a rallying call but do Leicester really understand the severity of their situation?
They are only one point above the relegation zone and could be in the bottom three heading into the international break. Rodgers’ team are at Brentford on Saturday and on current form there is little to suggest they will take three points.
Leicester did not play badly here and wasted three easy chances. Yet there was a sloppiness and a listlessness to their football that was alarming, and this was the key to their fourth successive league defeat.
Aside from the astonishing misses by Daniel Amartey and Kiernan Dewsbury- Hall, the Foxes rarely built up a head of steam against a Chelsea side who are still less than the sum of their parts. Too often passes were misplaced and the team lacked shape when they lost the ball.
Another problem is that this squad was built to compete for a top-four finish and in cup competitions — which Leicester have done for the last three seasons. Look around the squad and there are not too many natural scrappers there.
Goals by Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz and Mateo Kovacic did the trick for Chelsea. Patson Daka had Leicester level briefly and the home side saw Wout Faes sent off late on.
Khun Top may look to the Chelsea owner Todd Boehly for solace. Boehly stuck with Graham Potter as Chelsea stuttered and stumbled their way through matches and his manager has now delivered three wins in a week and a place in the Champions League quarter-finals. A run of form like that would save Leicester.
Whether they can dig deep enough to find it is another matter altogether.
LEICESTER (3-4-1-2): Ward 6.5; Amartey 4 (Tete 66min, 6), Souttar 5.5, Faes 4.5; Pereira 6, Dewsbury-Hall 5.5, Mendy 7 (Soumare 66, 6), Castagne 6; Maddison 6.5 (Evans 90); Daka 6.5 (Barnes 66, 6), Iheanacho 6 (Vardy 76). Scorer: Daka 39. Booked: Faes, Pereira. Sent off: Faes. Manager: Brendan Rodgers 6. CHELSEA (3-4-3): Kepa 6.5; Fofana 7 (Badiashile 86), Koulibaly 7.5, Cucurella 6.5; Loftus-Cheek 7.5 (Chalobah 73, 6), Fernandez 7.5, Kovacic 7.5, Chilwell 7 (Pulisic 73, 6); HAVERTZ 8, Mudryk 6 (Chukwuemeka 82), Felix 6.5 (Gallagher 46, 7.5).
Scorers: Chilwell 11, Havertz 45+6, Kovacic 78. Booked: Fofana, Cucurella.
Manager: Graham Potter 6.5.
Referee: Andre Marriner 5.