Leicester City 2 Chelsea 1: Three talking points
Three talking points as Leicester City move back to the top of the Premier League after beating Chelsea
The intriguing demise of Hazard
Chelsea’s spectacular fall from grace as champions to relegation contenders has been mirrored by the mystifying decline in form of last season’s player of the year – Eden Hazard. It’s been a very long time since the Belgian found the back of the net. In fact it’s been over 1500 minutes in the Premier League and he hasn’t scored in any other competition this season either. Apparently last time Hazard managed a goal, Caitlyn Jenner was known as Bruce Jenner. His performance against Leicester City lasted all of 31 minutes before he seemed to effectively decide he didn’t fancy it any more. Man of the moment Jamie Vardy sent the winger sprawling to the ground, where he seemed to land awkwardly on his hip and hobbled off for treatment, before telling his manager to bring someone else on in his place. Not exactly what you’d call showing stomach for the fight. The moment summed up Chelsea’s season perfectly and the calls for Jose Mourinho’s head will only grow louder. Considering Hazard was being spoken about in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo last year, his demise really has been one of epic proportions.
The spectacular rise of Mahrez
The Algerian has been one of the stars of this season’s Premier League and it’s been a pleasure to see him tear up defences all over the country. Weighing in at just nine-and-a-half stone, Riyad Mahrez looks like he would be easy to kick out of a game with a couple of hefty challenges early on. But that would require getting close enough to actually kick him. Signed for a bargain £350,000 from French side Le Havre in January 2014, Mahrez has gone from strength-to-strength and racked up an amazing 11 goals and seven assists in just 15 games this term. Credit must also go to manager Claudio Ranieri for bringing the best out of the winger, considering he had previously managed just seven goals in over 50 appearances for the Foxes. The 24-year-old may still have his best years to come and Leicester must be prepared to hang on to their speedy winger at all costs in the upcoming January transfer window. Against Chelsea, he petrified left-back Cesar Azpilicueta virtually into submission, and his goal was taken with such verve and composure it was certainly worthy of being the match winner.
The best Premier League season ever?
Perhaps not in terms of the purists sense of the quality of football on display, especially defensively, but in terms of shock results and unpredictability it has to be up there. For the reigning champions to be one point off the relegation zone after 16 games – and to have not sacked their manager – is frankly unbelievable. And for a Leicester City team who had ten points at this stage of last season to be currently sitting top of the Premier League with 35 points is verging on miraculous. People are being forced to take the Foxes seriously as title contenders but their next two games, away to Everton and Liverpool respectively, will give a strong indication of whether they’re in it for the long haul. Chelsea on the other hand cannot seem to stop their slump whatever they do. Mourinho has benched virtually every player in his squad at some point to try to whip them into shape, without success. Decent results in the Champions League have repeatedly failed to kick-start their league form. The Special One is well and truly not so special any more. Credit to Roman Abramovich for giving Mourinho time to prove himself but the situation is now critical and the manager’s position has surely become untenable.