Blues drop two points as Lampard’s home debut as boss ends in 1-1 draw against Leicester

BY PAUL LAGAN

paul@slpmedia.co.uk

Frank Lampard will have to be content with the first 15 minutes of this enthralling home debut as Chelsea manager – the Blues should have been 4-0 up and out of sight.

But Leicester City dug in, rode some luck and gradually wrested control away from the home side.

They had a deserved equaliser and late on could have pinched all three points.

There are concerns as to where the goals are going to come from and suggestions that the defence needs toughening up.

Lampard had instilled some powerful quick legs in to his side, the inclusion of Mason Mount a classic example. Pedro ran until there was nothing left in the tank.

There are so many encouraging passages of play, but the reality is that Chelsea have one point from the two opening games.

Almost two minutes in and the Blues should have scored. A crisp interchange saw Olivier Giroud chest down a Cesar Azpilicueta cross to in-running Pedro. But the Spain maestro shot into the side-netting.

Within a minute Kasper Schmeichel made two smart saves to thwart Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic while, following the resultant corner, Ricardo Pereira hacked the ball off the line.

But just seven minutes into the Frank Lampard’s regime at Stamford Bridge, Mount picked the pocket of Wilfred Nididi on the edge of the Leicester penalty area and slotted home a low, right-footer cooly past a prone Schmeichel.

Mount should have netted on 21 minutes, but he pinged a header straight into the midriff of Schmeichel after excellent set-up play in the right by N’Golo Kante and Azpilicueta.

Kepa Arrizabalaga almost made a horror effort to gift Jamie Vardy on 31 minutes but somehow managed to kick the ball clear having seen the striker close him down and almost snatch the ball off him.

The visitors then had their best period of play – a James Maddison free-kick was perfectly placed on to the Chelsea six-yard box but Vardy was inches away from connecting.

Leicester started the second with pace and aggression, forcing the Blues back.

Hamza Choudury tried a right-footed curler from 25 yards on 58 minutes. Despite the faintest of deflection on the way, Kepa was equal to the task and snaffled the effort.

With tired legs up from from the hard-working Giroud, becoming more evident, Lampard decided on his first change, replacing the France World Cup winner with youngster Tammy Abraham on 62 minutes.

But the pressure told and on 67 Nididi rose unchallenged from a regulation corner to smack home a powerful header from six yards out that eluded Kurt Zouma and Azpilicueta to level the scores.

Willian and Mateo Kovacic were the men, Lampard pulled from the bench in the hope of rescuing  the situation. Pulisic and Jorginho made way.

Madison should have put the Foxes into the lead when he cut through the Chelsea rearguard like butter. He chose to blast his shots on goal rather than pick his spot, and consequently flashed the ball over the crossbar.

Vardy then attempted a low, drive but it zipped across Kepa and inched just wide of his far post.

Teams: Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Jorginho, Kante, Pedro, Zouma, Giroud, Mount, Pulisic, Azpilicueta, Emerson

Subs: Caballero, Alonso, Barkley, Abraham, Willian, Kovacic, Tomori

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Soyuncu, Evans, Tielemans, Vardy, Maddison, Perez, Choudhury, Pereira, Ndidi, Fuchs

Subs: Ward, Justin, Morgan, Albrighton, Iheanacho, Barnes, Praet

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