Chelsea enacted their sweet revenge against Leicester City on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge with a 2-1 victory. The Blues started the match in full force, along with the fans, by launching an attacking blitzkrieg on the Foxes. Despite great attacking play, penalty kick claims, countless chances created, and missed opportunities, the Blues went to halftime without a goal and staring the barrel of a dooming draw. Chelsea scored right out of the gates of the second half through Antonio Rudiger capitalizing on a corner kick. Rudiger was arguably unplayable for the Foxes in the match and the goal was deserved for the German international. Rudiger’s compatriot, Timo Werner, got his just reward with a VAR decision going his way on a foul by Wesley Fofana in the box. The penalty was awarded to the Blues, and with a hop, skip, and a jump, Jorginho slotted the penalty home in the coolest and calmest of manners.
Jorginho became the leading scorer for Chelsea in the Premier League with seven penalty kicks converted. Leicester City scored after a mistake from playing out of the back and Leicester then missed a golden chance from Ayoze Perez to equalize. Fortunately, luck was on the Blues side and they were able to see out the win after a major bust-up near the touchline following a heavy foul on Ben Chilwell. Here are the five important things Blues fans have learned after such an integral win.
Top four is Chelsea’s to lose after huge win against Leicester City
With this victory it is assured that Chelsea now, more than ever, control their own path. Chelsea could even lose to Villa and still go through on goal differential if Leicester City are unable to beat Spurs on Sunday. This is a much larger advantage than it may seem. Chelsea should still be able to get the job done at Villa, but even if they falter in this, the only way the club does not get top four now is by Leicester and Liverpool winning their remaining games.
It is not wise to assume that either club chasing Chelsea will drop points but given the nature of this season and the chaos that generally ensues at season’s end, it is well within the realm of possibility that Leicester City or Liverpool drop points in one of their respective matches.
A notion began to be floated around that it would be a total failure if Chelsea were to throw away the golden momentum, they had built by controlling their top four fate, and this win against Leicester City proves that all is well that ends well. It now seems that all will more than likely end well.
I have been saying for months now that if Chelsea beat West Ham and Leicester City that the club will get top four. Seems that my theory will likely come to fruition now. This is time to be happy, Blues fans! It has been a terribly tumultuous season and getting top four will feel like an accomplishment more than ever within this context.
Rudiger’s transformation is complete
Rudiger was once the forgotten man. He was once deemed surplus to requirements and seemingly being phased out of the squad. Many people within the fanbase agreed it was a justified exclusion. There were very few who stuck by him during the rough times but all credit to those fans who did. For the record, when playing a back four, I thought Rudiger was a bit of an awkward fit but still a better choice than other center backs in a back four. However, under Thomas Tuchel in a three at the back system, Rudiger has been arguably world class and the performance against Leicester City really had this assertion on full display. Excellent defending, incredible pace and dribbling talent, goal scoring, physical play to make past eras smile, and asserting himself to fight for teammates being fouled hard late on, this display was a cornerstone match for Ruidger.
The transformation is now complete: Rudiger is Chelsea’s best center back and has the nastiness and needle that this squad desperately needs. Like a masked villain strolling around the pitch in his mask, Rudiger stole the show and was the pantomime enforcer for the Blues. He embodied all that was needed to get this victory over the line and push the Blues significantly forward to their top four finish.
The assertions he is Chelsea’s best centre back are supported by more than this display. Chelsea have played 17 matches with Rudiger in the Premier League this season and have won 10 matches with only one defeat. Without Rudiger? Chelsea have played 19 matches in the Premier League with only eight wins and seven defeats. The difference with Rudiger in the squad and without him in the squad is an average of 2.1 points per game and 1.5 points per game, respectively. Additionally, Chelsea have conceded 26 goals without Rudiger in 19 matches, while only conceding 7 goals with him in 17 matches.
Attacking play must maintain momentum after picking up speed against Leicester City
The attackers were fluid, lively, and taking the match to Leicester City for much of the match. This play must continue. Chelsea can ill afford to have the attack go missing and unsuccessfully labor through matches again like in the match against Arsenal and in the FA Cup Final.
The attacking play saw a tour de force against Leicester and was highly encouraging after such stale, dull, mediocre-at-best play in the previous two matches. Hitting this form is crucial as the season will be defined by making top four and what happens in the Champions League Final against Manchester City. Specifically, Timo Werner seemed to be rejuvenated and thriving off the energy the crowd was providing. The fans were boisterous in their support for Werner and it seemed to inspire him to show even more of his tireless work ethic in more than the attacking phase.
If the attack can sustain this level of play for the final two matches the Blues will be a formidable opponent for City. On a larger perspective, this attacking display with the fans back in the stadium could suffice for reason to believe that the attacking doldrums could be blown away going into next season and that the squad hits the ground running to kick off the new season. This may seem like hyperbole, but I see it as tangible hope to latch on to for Blues fans that the issues could be starting to turn the corner in the attacking phase. Time shall tell us more.
Fans Make a Difference
“Football without fans is nothing.” Has the quote been more applicable now than ever? It felt like it against the Foxes at Stamford Bridge. The limited crowd of 8,000 supporters sounded as if they have never been louder. The emotion and energy could be felt at home watching and listening to the broadcast. The players seemed to be thriving on it. The elation of the crowd was such a welcomed return for all involved in the match. Credit has to be given to the supporters: you all were exceptional for the return to the Bridge. This may be a great prelude to what is to come in the fall when 40,000 supporters are welcomed back for the opening match of the 2021/2022 Premier League season.
I loved every second of the crowd cheering the squad on in full support during this match. Hearing the fans in such form made me, and many other Blues fans, realize how much this has been missed over the last year or more by watching matches without fans. I cannot wait until next season to see all of you wonderful supporters back to the Bridge!
Do Not Make Mountains Out of Molehills
The only “negative” (if you can even call it that) is that the online fan reaction from the previous week now seems to be so overblown and reactionary. Winning solves everything but there were many suggestions that Chelsea FC had thrown their season away, were not going to get their top four position, were going to lose all remaining matches, etc after the loss to Leicester City in the FA Cup Final.
These claims were much too emotional and not at all rational. The massive turnaround in result and performance in the 2-1 win against Leicester should show to all fans to not make mountains out of molehills after a short-term decline in results. Yes, losing the FA Cup is a tough pill to swallow. But, life and the club goes on and there is still much to achieve and potentially rejoice for in the coming weeks. Losing sight of that is important when trying to rationally evaluate the circumstances of the club instead of airing the most reactionary emotional responses to setbacks. I can guarantee all readers this: Tuchel and his squad do not have the reactionary emotions on their season for good reason! They all have shown that a loss or two has become a blip on the radar for them and that they quickly right the course and get back to the proper path and results.
Evaluate rationally, don’t make short-term issues out to be catastrophes, and always support the club to the full extent. This is not meant to be preachy or self-righteous, but more so a personal message to all fans out there on how I see our role as supporters. Hopefully the result against Leicester has made some learn and see it my way too, and if not, so it goes. Whatever your perspective, do not change your support for Chelsea Football Club.
Written by Travis Flock (@Crossroads_CFC)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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