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Chelsea 0 Leicester City 0: Below-par Blues held to third straight stalemate by 10-man Foxes

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/01/2018 Vaishali Bhardwaj
© Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Chelsea were held to a third straight goalless draw as the champions failed to break down 10-man Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The visitors had the better of the chances in the Premier League clash, but could not breach Chelsea's defence before they were then left with a one-man disadvantage when Ben Chilwell was sent off in the second half for picking up two cautions.

Antonio Conte switched to a more attacking 3-4-3 formation in search of a victory, but it proved fruitless as the game ended 0-0 to see Chelsea remain in third place in the standings.

Despite drawing 0-0 with Arsenal in the EFL Cup semi-final in midweek, which came days after another goalless draw away to Norwich in the FA Cup, Conte opted to stick with a 3-5-2 formation for the visit of Leicester.

In the match against Arsenal, Conte rested captain Gary Cahill but the defender was back in the Chelsea starting line-up against Leicester, albeit in the unusual position in the centre of a three-man defence.

Conte first played Cahill in that position on Boxing Day when Chelsea beat Brighton 2-0 and, despite the 32-year-old struggling at times, he was again positioned centrally for the visit of Stoke a few days later.

Andreas Christensen is now Conte's first-choice man in the centre of defence, and what was certainly interesting to see was the Chelsea boss preferring to pick Cahill instead of the fit-again David Luiz.

Cahill, though, did well enough to stop the returning Jamie Vardy from scoring in the first period, although Leicester boss Claude Puel will likely have been scratching his head as to how his side did not take the lead in west London.

a man playing a game of football © Provided by Independent Print Limited

Indeed, Vardy had three good chances to score early on - the first when, moments after Shinji Okazaki had driven over the bar from close range, the Leicester striker side-footed the ball wide.

He then saw a low shot roll wide of the far post with Thibaut Courtois beaten before Cahill blocked Vardy's next attempt.

Courtois was part of the reason why the Foxes did not break the deadlock, with the Belgian denying Wilfried Ndidi's goal-bound header from a corner while Riyad Mahrez blazed over the bar moments later.

While Leicester impressed as they delivered attack after attack, it was a very different story for the hosts. Cesc Fabregas may have

had two efforts from the right saved by Kasper Schmeichel, but Chelsea's inability to create any meaningful shots at goal was evident for all to see.

It is a problem that plagued them against Norwich in the FA Cup last weekend and against Arsenal on Wednesday. And with Chelsea struggling to breach Leicester's defence in the second half, Conte switched from a 3-5-2 to a 3-4-3 formation - bringing off Fabregas and Eden Hazard for Willian and Pedro.

That double change came minutes after Mahrez appealed for a penalty after going down under pressure from Andreas Christensen, who in the first half had replaced the injured Cahill.

Nothing was given, though, and Chelsea were then handed the opportunity they were looking for when Chilwell was sent off for a second bookable offence after fouling Victor Moses.

But, despite Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko driving their respective shots over the bar, Chelsea could not capitalise on the advantage and had to settle for another goalless draw.

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