Football Features

Leicester City 2-2 Chelsea: Kepa the unlikely winner after Lampard’s surprise call

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 14:46, 1 February 2020

In a thrilling afternoon of football, Leicester and Chelsea played out an exciting 2-2 draw.

The Blues and the Foxes went toe-to-toe in a match full of fun attacking, dodgy goalkeeping and a result that is a fair reflection of the game. What did we learn?

Winner: Kepa Arrizabalaga

The world’s most expensive goalkeeper has been a colossal disappointment so far this season. The Spaniard has been thoroughly ineffective in terms of providing a barrier to opponent’s scoring. Chelsea’s good defensive record has been as much about denying their opponents shots as it has Kepa keeping them out.

Kepa’s save percentage is an abysmal 55.56%, the lowest amongst all goalkeepers that have played more than 1,000 minutes this season (the second lowest is Jordan Pickford on 63.92%). He’s just looked so shaky, but emerges from today’s game a winner as he got dropped by Frank Lampard and then watched on as Willy Caballero was poor and conceded twice.

Perhaps the problem was never Kepa, but a larger issue at Chelsea regarding their goalkeepers?

Loser: Willy Caballero and Kasper Schmeichel

Whatever Kepa’s problem has been all season he seemed to have passed it on to Willy Caballero and Kasper Schmeichel this afternoon. The Argentine and the Dane never gave the impression of being weak links, but when it came to the crunch they were absolutely pitiful for each of the four goals that went in.

Alright perhaps you can’t fault Willy for failing to get to Harvey Barnes’ deflected strike, although watching him scuttle across his line like an indecisive crab was at the least amusing. However he was all at sea for Ben Chilwell’s strike, chasing a cross all the way wide to the edge of his before retreating and being unable to get back across in time to stop the left-back from scoring.

Kasper Schmeichel, meanwhile, was in proper “goalkeeping union” form and turned to jelly to show solidarity with both Kepa and Willy. It wasn’t that Schmeichel made any blatant errors, but his decision-making and positioning was unusually soft and he utterly failed to organise his defence as they were shambolic on both set-piece goals.

For Rudiger’s first goal, Schmeichel hesitated in claiming Mount’s corner, and then never set himself on his line so wasn’t ready to stop the German’s header. Then for the second goal he had stepped way too far to one side and wasn’t able to adjust his feet and jump enough to reach Rudiger’s header.

Winner: Antonio Rudiger

Chelsea’s German defender has suffered with injury issues this season but he came out swinging today. It wasn’t that he was flawless, after all Chelsea conceded twice and it should have been more than that. But his did something other Chelsea boys have been struggling with: score.

The German rose superbly to punish Leicester twice. First at the beginning of the second-half with a delicious downward header, and then near the end of the game he lifted a great header over the goalie into the back of the net. Two stunning finishes to save his side and he even managed to have the ball hit his hand and not get absurdly punished by VAR. That may even be his most impressive feat!

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Winner: Hamza Choudhury

When Wilfred Ndidi got injured in the warm-up, Leicester’s fans would have been forgiven for fearing the worse was to come. The Nigerian is a one-man-army in midfield in the Foxes midfield, recording tackling numbers that are even more impressive than N’Golo Kanté’s back when Leicester actually won the Premier League.

However Hamza Chaudhury stepped up and filled the hole Ndidi left. Choudhury is a phenomenal workhorse and despite being just 22 shows an incredible sense of timing and discipline as a pivot. The Englishman was excellent against Chelsea, making 2 tackles, 2 clearances and recording a game-high 4 interceptions.

Choudhury stopped Chelsea advancing through the centre and even pushed up hard to press at times. Don’t be surprised if he ends up “doing a Soyuncu” and stepping into this role full-time next season after Leicester sell Ndidi for something like 70m.

Loser: Leicester’s killer instinct

This was an open game, an end-to-end affair where both sides went back and forth trying to win the game. It was a fantastic watch even though neither side was playing at their best level. In the end a draw was the fair result for both sides, but Leicester should have more.

The Foxes have often shown their limitations this season against the bigger sides, failing to punish them the way they have lesser teams. And today even though they got a point that lack of killer instinct was again on show as the Foxes spurned two glorious chances to win the match late on. First through Jonny Evans heading a corner wide when unmarked, and then Harvey Barnes skewing wide when six yards out. If Leicester want to progress to the next level those are the chances they’re going to have to start taking.

Winner: Manchester United, Spurs and Wolves

The Red Devils signed Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo at the end of the transfer window, giving themselves quality and depth in attack respectively. And somehow despite their nonsense displays this season they entered the gameweek just six points behind Chelsea. Spurs have been up and down and are without Harry Kane yet they are just six points behind Chelsea. Wolves have recovered from their dodgy start to the season and their terrible luck in some recent clashes to rise up and they are also just six points behind Chelsea.

That gap has now been extended to seven points, true, but it can be cut to four later this evening. Spurs have a brutal task as they host Manchester City, but Man Utd and Wolves are playing each other so there is a great chance for one of them to close on Chelsea and really heat up the race for the top four.