The sound of Chelsea fans singing ‘Antonio’ greeted the Italian manager as Andre Marriner blew the final whistle in the match between Leicester City and Chelsea. Amid fears of the fixture being postponed due to weather conditions and problems at the Chelsea camp, the two former champions kicked off their game on Saturday night – the home side trying to maintain a safe distance from the drop zone and the league leaders trying to maintain their advantage at the top.
The Blues travelled to the Midlands sans Diego Costa while Michy Batshuayi was ignored for the starting line-up yet again. Conte’s men quickly took hold of the game and dominated the current champions for most of the 90 minutes.
The first two goals of the game came from an unlikely source as Marcos Alonso scored a few minutes into both the first and second halves. The depleted Leicester hardly seemed a match for Conte’s men as they were without the services of Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani.
Pedro scored the third goal to seal the victory after setting it up with a beautiful touch. In the aftermath of a match that invited plenty of unexpected speculation, here are the five major talking points:
#1 No Costa, no problem
One day before Chelsea’s trip to the King Power Stadium, news of a bust-up between Diego Costa and the medical staff at the Chelsea grounds broke. What was initially explained as a disagreement between the two about an injury the Spaniard had suffered was later revealed to run much deeper.
Media reports claim Costa also clashed with Conte over a £30 million-a-year contract he had been offered by a Chinese club. Irrespective of the real reason, Costa was left out of the squad which included Nathan Ake who has recently been recalled from his loan at Bournemouth.
With no Costa, who is both Chelsea’s and the league’s top goalscorer with 14 goals, Conte deployed Eden Hazard as the centre forward with Batshuayi remaining on the bench despite his impressive performance in their FA Cup fixture last weekend.
Willian and Pedro made up the wings as the rest of the side remained unchanged. In spite of the 28-year-old’s absence, the waves of attack from the Blues were potent. Alonso proved the unlikely hero as he scored the first two goals and Pedro finished off with the third.
If the reports of the problems at Chelsea are to be believed then the club just sent a very powerful message through their performance at the King Power.