They say lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice and Frank Lampard will surely hope the old maxim comes true after his Chelsea team was beaten by a Leicester side who took the lead after a 2-0 win the Premier League came at King Power Stadium. Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, will think differently.
Back in December 2015, Leicester’s remarkable title success was triggered by a 2-1 home win over a struggling Chelsea team. Claudio Ranieri’s side never looked back from that point and would win the Premier League later that season. For Chelsea, the defeat meant the end of coach Jose Mourinho, who was sacked three days later.
– Ratings: Pulisic gets 5/10, defense in Leicester loss sad
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN + (US only)
– Pulisic: I’ve grown the most at Chelsea without fans
Five years later, Leicester took first place again and no one really believes they’ll be champions. Chelsea have another manager who is starting to wonder if his next loss will be his last.
“She [Leicester] were hotter than us and ran more than us, “said Lampard.” The bare minimum is to run and sprint and cover the ground, and too many of our players haven’t.
“We were beaten by the better team. Individual fights were lost. The players want to do well, they have the right intentions, but that should be a big push for them.”
“It’s clearly worrying. It’s a time we’re not happy with and other clubs have been during that time. The most important thing is that the players bounce back. This is the breakneck nature of what it is.”
Lampard demanded significantly more from his players, but did not go as far as Mourinho in 2015 – when the Portuguese accused his team of “betraying” his tactics – but the similarities are that a manager is not able to they get the best of their players.
Lampard can at least suggest that his team is still in touch with the top four after Chelsea’s sixth loss this season.
Chelsea are five points behind the Champions League spots in eighth place, while Mourinho’s side were in 16th place, one point above the relegation zone. The bad news for Lampard is that 2015-16 was the only time Chelsea had a worse start to the season in the Roman Abramovich era.
Lampard is under increasing pressure, not only because of the poor results, but also because the club’s big signings in the summer – Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Ben Chilwell – do not meet the expected standards. Werner, who started on the bench, has not scored a league goal since November and he scored his only goal in 15 games in the FA Cup against League Two Minnows Morecambe. The German’s misery was exacerbated by a late goal that was excluded from the closest offside decisions.
But Lampard is struggling to prove that he is the man who takes the club forward as a manager, and his shortcomings were exposed by Rodgers who, coupled with Leicester’s excellent player recruitment, made the Foxes title challenger all over again with his coaching skills and man management .
The fact that Rodgers was once a member of the Chelsea coaching staff under Mourinho and Luiz Felipe Scolari won’t help Lampard either, as his bosses are unlikely to enjoy having their dearly-built squad so easily beaten by a coach who has broken his career continues elsewhere.
The same Chelsea directors may have wondered where their current side would be on the Premier League table if Rodgers were manager.
The former Liverpool and Celtic boss has confirmed his reputation as one of the UK’s top coaches since returning to the Premier League two years ago. Both Rodgers and Leicester deserve to be taken seriously in this season’s title race. Since Rodgers left Celtic to take the job at Foxes in February 2019, Leicester has been a force to be reckoned with.
But can they turn back the clock to 2015-16 and win the title again?
Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool are more likely to become champions due to their greater depth, but make no mistake, this is a very good Leicester team and they shouldn’t be discounted.
They’d beaten City, Spurs and Arsenal this season before scoring all three points against Chelsea. So they know how to play against the biggest clubs and there is enough talent and experience on the team to take on a title challenge.
Despite losing Harry Maguire and Chilwell to United and Chelsea since the start of last season, Leicester has found gems to replace and strengthen the squad in other areas. Lee Congerton, Rodgers’ Sporting Director at Celtic, follows the Northern Irishman to the King Power and in recruiting the likes of Wesley Fofana, Youri Tielemans, James Justin and Timothy Castagne, all of whom were impressive in the win.
Rodgers matched the new recruits with the surviving members of Ranieri’s Champions – Kasper Schmeichel, Marc Albrighton and Jamie Vardy – to make Leicester a team that can beat anyone in their day.
But they didn’t even have to be at their best to beat Chelsea, who started off badly and didn’t recover.
Christian Pulisic’s poor defense on a corner allowed James Maddison to cross for Wilfred Ndidi to kick off in the sixth minute. Nine minutes later it could have been 2-0 when Maddison hit the bar from 20 yards.
Craig Burley explains why Frank Lampard may not be able to save his job after losing to Leicester City.
And it clearly wasn’t going to be Chelsea’s night when VAR overturned a penalty decision 39 minutes after Jonny Evans stumbled upon Pulisic. Reruns showed the foul was outside the box and Mason Mount sent the free kick high over the bar.
Two minutes later, a more shambolic Chelsea defense led to Leicester’s second goal as the ball ricocheted off into Maddison after Antonio Rudiger challenged Vardy and Maddison scored from close range.
Although Chelsea stabilized the ship in the second half, it rarely looked like he was fighting his way back into the game and Leicester rightly held onto the win that put them at the top of the table.
“We’re at the top of the league because we work hard,” said Maddison. “We’re not there by chance. We’re going to do our business in the background, let them talk about Liverpool, Man United and Spurs, we’re just going to keep doing what we do.
“You can let yourself be followed from the side. The most important game is the next game, as cliché as it is. That’s how we have to work because we have this mentality.”
United and City can both return to Leicester with wins against Fulham and Aston Villa on Wednesday, but that performance underscored the strength of Rodgers’ team.
The downside also highlighted the problems Lampard is struggling to overcome, but unlike Mourinho in 2015, he might get time to come up with an answer. However, it won’t be long.