Chelsea’s winless streak extended to four games in all competitions as the Premier League champions were held to a 0-0 draw against 10-man Leicester City in a controversial tie at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Blues, seeking to temporarily leapfrog second-placed Manchester United, sent out a full-strength squad against Claude Puel’s men, but were second-best for majority of the tie.
Antonio Conte’s side were clearly feeling the after-effects of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal in mid-week, for Leicester were by far the stronger of the teams in the opening 45 period.
Thibaut Courtois, reportedly on the verge of signing a new long-term contract with the West Londoners, was outstanding with several saves to keep the Foxes as bay as Chelsea struggled to string passes together and were bereft of any intensity whatsoever.
Eden Hazard, another player said to be considering signing a contract extension, was not at his brilliant best, far from it, as he was guilty of a few wayward passes and the second-half began with Leicester on top as well.
Leicester had a big penalty shout waved away, with in-form winger Riyad Mahrez tumbling under an a challenge from Andreas Christensen and then match referee would swing the tide of the game in Chelsea’s favour with a contentious dismissal of Leicester fullback Ben Chillwell.
The fullback was already on a yellow when he caught Victor Moses on the shin but despite the challenge looking to be an inadvertent one, Mike Jones gave him his marching orders with over 20 minutes left in the tie.
Antonio Conte had already utilised his three substitutions, replacing the injured Gary Cahill with Andreas Christensen after the half-hour mark before sending on Pedro and Willian for the ineffective duo of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, so could only exhort his players to find the breakthrough, which was not forthcoming.
Remarably, it was Chelsea’s third consecutive 0-0 draw in all competitions, and the Blues lack of goals has thrown their chances of finishing in the top-four in serious danger for Liverpool could overtake them if they manage to beat Manchester City on Sunday.
Tottenham Hotspur host Everton in the late game on Saturday and the Lilyhwites could close to within a point of Chelsea if they are to beat the stuttering Toffees at Wembley Stadium.
While Leicester will feel disappointed not to depart the Bridge with three points, considering the sending-off they can consider themselves lucky to have escaped with a draw at the end and the eight-ranked Foxes are still in contention for the European spots this season.
In the other Premier League games on Saturday, West Ham United thrashed Huddersfield 4-1 while Watford held Southampton 2-2, Newcastle drew 1-1 with Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0.