This match was expected to be closely competed as two sides came into this fixture having had a mixed start to the campaign. Neither team had hit top gear yet and this showed in this match too. The first half was scrappy and competitive, with Leicester not giving Chelsea the space to play their game. The second half was more open, with more end to end plays resulting in an entertaining half. Here are 5 things we learned as Chelsea won 2-1 against Leicester:
1) Alvaro Morata Ready to Break the Number 9 Curse
Prior to this summer, Fernando Torres’ £50 million transfer from Liverpool was Chelsea’s record transfer. He had donned the number 9 jersey during three and a half tumultuous years at the Bridge. This summer, Chelsea broke that transfer record and brought in another Spanish striker. Alvaro Morata signed for £60 million, also decided to wear the number 9 jersey. Supporters feared that he would follow the same path as Torres, but Morata has proved everyone wrong. 3 goals and 2 assists in 4 premier league games is a strong return for a striker who is still adapting to Conte’s system. He still has a long way to go in adjusting to life in the premier league and also building that chemistry with his teammates, but the early signs look positive for Alvaro.
2) Leicester City Missing their Spine from 2015
When Leicester romped to the title in 2015, their two unsung heroes were Drinkwater and Kante. They dominated midfield week after week, allowing Mahrez and Vardy to shine. Last season Leicester missed Kante, and this weekend they missed Drinkwater too. Where were these two players? Playing for their opponents Chelsea ironically. While Ndidi and James performed solidly in midfield, they lack the explosiveness of the Kante – Drinkwater partnership. To make things worse, Kante even scored a belter against his former team.
3) Conte might have something up his sleeve
Last year Conte introduced the 3-4-3 formation to the Premier League. Chelsea shone in this formation but so did the other teams (Arsenal especially), as they copied this tactic. With so many teams understanding how to play this formation, Conte had to find something new to keep Chelsea winning. This weekend, as he did against Spurs, Conte started with a 3-5-2 formation. Bakayoko and Kante were the two holding midfielders, with Fabregas playing as the number 10. Morata and Pedro started up top. This did not seem to work during the first half, but this formation could improve with time, and Eden Hazard coming back into the team.
4) Bakayoko and Zappacosta will be vital this season
Bakayoko played well against Spurs during game week 2, but he played a better all round game this weekend. He was strong is tackles, competitive in the air, and smart in his positioning. He even made some eye catching forward runs, using his strength to shrug off his opponents. But as Conte said, he needs to work on his skills on the ball. With Conte guiding him, and Kante by his side, Bakayoko has it all to become another fantastic central midfielder.
Zappacosta’s analysis is a bit different. He played 20 minutes this weekend but did not do anything too impressive. However, what Moses did in the earlier 70 minutes was not impressive either. Moses had plenty of opportunities to deliver a killer ball in the final third and each time he failed. It was frustrating to watch because he put it all the hard work to get into good positions but his final ball was left wanting. Hopefully, with Zappacosta in the squad, it will push Moses to perform better and with more consistency.
5) Okazaki a better partner for Vardy than Slimani
Vardy was as industrious as ever, constantly harassing Chelsea’s back three and preventing them from playing out from the back. He also won a penalty out of nothing and then confidently converted it. But the same could not be said about his striker partner. Slimani looked lazy all through the first half, as he failed to threaten Chelsea’s goal. His hold up play was lacking, and lack of pressing often let down all the good work Vardy was doing.