CHELSEA 3 VS LEICESTER 0: BLUES SHRUG OFF CRISES RUMORS TO SPANK CHAMPIONS

Media reports of Antonio Conte’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. A few days after bookmakers took a flurry bets on the Chelsea manager leaving, his team turned in a performance that left even the notoriously hard-to-please Roman Abramovich laughing and clapping.

In an all-Italian battle of tactics and sharp suits, Conte outflanked Claudio Ranieri comprehensively. Chelsea were sharp and incisive and deserved their goals from Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses as a bare minimum.

Leicester, on the other hand, were a shambles from front to back. The tone was set by conceding from a set piece after seven minutes. They failed to register a shot on target

Strangely, Conte stayed his usual manic self in the technical area throughout while Ranieri stayed largely impassive. It should have been the other way round, though the losing manager defended his decision to rest his star players Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani before the European game in midweek against FC Copenhagen. ‘I’d take the same decision,’ Ranieri said.

‘We have a tough match on Tuesday and the Champions League is two months, in or out. We want to get to the knockout stage and we need all our players fit so I prefer to preserve them
Conte stuck to the 3-4-3 that worked so well at Hull a fortnight ago, with wing-backs Moses and Marcos Alonso pushed so far forward they counted as midfielders.

Even without Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Cesc Fabregas, Oscar and Willian, they got off to a flyer and had already created chances for Moses and Hazard before they took the lead after seven minutes.

To mark the goal, Hazard pointed to the sky as a message of solidarity to teammate Willian, away in Brazil to mourn the death of his mother.

By that stage of the game, Leicester looked a mess. Ranieri’s experiment with three centre-halves to combat Chelsea’s formation failed, and in attack Vardy was starved of service. The closest Leicester got to a goal came when Luiz turned a Marc Albrighton cross against his own post in the second half.

In contrast, Chelsea could have scored a hatful. Schmeichel saved from Costa and Moses while N’Golo Kante was denied a first Chelsea goal by a tremendous block by his captain at his former club, Wes Morgan.

On the touchline, Conte didn’t calm down, but he was happy with what he saw. ‘We played very well. High intensity, good passing between the lines. We were also very aggressive when we lost the ball,’ he said

I am pleased because we worked so hard during the week, it’s natural you want to see a good result.I changed our system before the Hull game because we conceded a lot of goals. This system suits the talent of all the players. The defenders, midfielders, wingers and strikers.’

Ranieri threw on his Algerian stars belatedly but it failed to change the pattern of the game. Indeed, Chelsea deservedly added a third when Moses played a one-two with Nathaniel Chalobah and fired home.

Moses then departed to allow 20-year-old Londoner Ola Aina his Premier League debut. By that time, most eyes were fixed on Costa, who spent the closing stages gesturing to come off, perhaps with a tight hamstring or maybe a worry than a booking would see him miss the next game against Manchester United.

But Conte kept him on. ‘I decide. Me,’ the manager said. ‘I take the responsibility in a positive or negative situation.’ Whatever the bookies may think, Conte continues to make the football decisions at Chelsea.

culled from dailymail.co.uk

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