Right then, that’s us – thanks all for your company and comments. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Here’s David Hytner’s match report.
Lampard apologies for sounding down, then finishes by saying that he can only say the game as he sees it, and that the young players he took off are going to be big players for Chelsea so shouldn’t be discouraged.
Frank Lampard says his team’s second-half performance was “So-so”, saying his team have rarely played so badly and often played worse and lost. He could easily have made seven or eight changes at half-time, he gripes, and that his players were too slow to the ball and too slow on the ball. They’d worked so hard v City, attacking with pace and quality, but that went today; he’s glad they can win playing badly, though.
Southampton now lead Watford 3-1.
Elsewhere, Forest are on the march.
In the studio, they’re talking about Ross Barkley, and whether Lampard can help his decision-making. At 26, that seems unlikely to me, but he can certainly give him licence and confidence.
Ross Barkley reckons it’s important that Chelsea won today and confides that Frank Lampard likes his midfielders to get into the box. At half-time, Lampard told his players that the effort to that point wasn’t good enough for the badge and that he wanted them to be more vocal on the pitch.
Back to Chelsea, what we saw today is what happens when a team has momentum: it doesn’t work so the manager gives other players opportunities, and then it does work.
Extremely Mike Goldberg voice: coming up next, Newcastle v Man City. Join Rob Smyth for that one.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are on a buzz. They were terrible in the first half but Frank Lampard acted decisively to resolve matters, it worked, and the upshot was another little thing that tells the players things are going for them.
Leicester are in some trouble. They’re out of the cup, obviously, but they’re now only three points ahead of Wolves in fifth place and travel to Everton on Wednesday, which is to say that season is in trouble: they’re struggling to score, and struggling to make scoring opportunities.
Full-time: Leicester City 0-1 Chelsea
Chelsea go through to the semis, Leicester go out!
90+4 min Pedro breaks from halfway and has options, but decides to hang onto possession before finding Barkley when it’s too late.
90+3 min James Maddison’s t-shirt is indeed extremely large, straight out of 1991 large. In a private box, puts his head in his hands.
90+2 min Leicester push Chelsea back, Gray knocking back for Chilwell, who slides across for Ndidi ... but, opening his body to create an angle, he curls his shot wide.
90+1 min Leicester started pretty well, but ultimately this has been another poor performance from them. They’ve struggled to create, and when Chelsea turned it up, the identity of the better team was clear.
90 min There’ll be four added minutes.
89 min Chelsea break four v two but Barkley is lost in the supermarket, passing behind Loftus-Cheek, who does really well to poke a return back to him. This time, Barkley has a look, then drives hard, and Schmeichel manages to block the ball into the ground so that it sails up and over the bar ... just.
89 min Another good cross from Albrighton and this one flicks a defender before not quite falling for Vardy.
87 min Can Leicester create one last chance? I’m surprised Iheanacho is still sat at the side, but in the meantime Albrighton slings over another fine cross that doesn’t quite pick out a Leicester brow.
85 min Was that the chance? Leicester win a free-kick and even though Tielemans’ delivery isn’t great, Chelsea can’t get it away, so Albrighton sashays inside Emerson, sending him out for a bag of bogroll before flighting a lovely cross towards the back post! But Azpilicueta jumps early and gets a little flick on it, so that Soyuncu’s header is a hard one, hitting him and going over the bar. Excellent defending.
83 min After hinting at doing something, Leicester have gone quiet again. Troubling times for them.
81 min Abraham finds Barkley after Evans carelessly sends him the ball, but Barkley can only lash wide.
78 min “If these drinks breaks become the norm,” emails Dave Manby, “why don’t they allow five subs per game as it is but only allow substitutions to happen at the drinks breaks and half time.”
Because managers should be allowed to respond if there’s an injury, a goal, or a change in the balance of things. However the breaks do make me nervous – can we really trust the authorities not to call them timeouts, get them sponsored, and sell some more advertising space?
78 min Chelsea make their final change, Pedro on for Willian.
77 min Curious change from Leicester, Barnes off for Gray. It’s a strange one that, as Barnes has looked one of Leicester’s likelier sources of something.
76 min Nice from Barnes, jinking inside and finding Tielemans, who touches a clever ball back out to Chilwell, except it’s too clever for Chilwell. He’s on his heels, and can only bump it over the by-line.
74 min I’m not sure what I think of a final four comprising Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City. On the one hand, it should guarantee some sort of standard, but on the other, eff eff ess.
73 min Another change for Chelsea, Loftus-Cheek replacing Pulisic, who’s done well – I assume he’s being saved for West Ham in midweek, and has a calf situation too, because the physio is applying ice.
71 min Better from Leicester, Choudhury into Barnes, who finds a clever pass into Vardy, near the penalty spot, and for a second this looks a good chance. But the time it takes to swivel allows legs to get in the road, and the ensuing shot is blocked by some of them. It’s absolutely caning down with rain now.
68 min And that’s ... er ... drinks. Leicester need to make themselves inspirable, because Brendan is going to do his thing.
67 min Back to the goal, credit to Lampard for not hanging about waiting to make changes – I guess credit to the rich-club favouring five subs rule too – and getting the personnel right too.
66 min Leicester have nothing as Chelsea keep coming, a lush first touch from Pulisic sending him driving towards the box. He lays off to Barkley, opening the angle for him to curl towards the far post, but he doesn’t get enough angle so can only bring it back into Schmeichel’s midriff.
GOAL! Leicester City 0-1 Chelsea (Barkley 63)
That was coming, and coming from that man too! Willian and Azpilicueta exchange passes down the right – gosh, Willian has so much time, ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way – crossing towards the near post area, where Barkley arrives to sweep a caress into the far corner! That was extremely Lampardian.
62 min Chelsea are right on top now and looking especially dangerous down their right, where Barkley and Willian are combining to decent effect. Again, the former finds the latter, whose low cross is aimed at the nearest available set of shins, Antonio Valencia-style.
60 min Brendan Rodgers hasn’t beaten Chelsea in 14 attempts. Sorry, I mean Brendan’s Rodgers’ players haven’t beaten Chelsea in 14 attempts
60 min Chilwell bounces down the left and mishits a cross which clips the top of the bar and goes behind.
60 min At Vicarage Road, Danny Ings has given Southampton the lead.
58 min Rodgers has seen enough, replacing Praet and Perez and with Choudhury and Albrighton. I was slightly surprised Praet got in ahead of Choudhury to begin with, and wonder if Pulisic might soon be clutching some part of himself.
57 min Leicester are struggling to get out, but here they come down the right, Justin clipping a cross into the middle that Tielemans collects on the volley, looking to bring it into his stride. But he doesn’t quite connect with the right bit of foot and the ball runs away from him.
55 min And again! Pulisic is taking up some great positions in front of the Leicester back four and again he sticks Abraham him, Abraham swivelling to crack a fine low finish across Schmeichel and into the net. But again, the flag goes up.
53 min Chelsea are moving. Kovacic wins the ball and finds Pulisic, who slides in the Rabbi, but the flag goes up.
52 min “Between Chelsea and United, which one do you think is closer to challenging?” asks Digvijay Yadav.
Erm, I think both will need another season after this one, and it’s hard to judge United until we know who’s arriving in the summer. But I’d go for them because I think their defence is better and their best players – Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford – are a class above Chslea’s best players.
51 min Soyuncu takes a touch, has a look rolls a pass into Tielemans – that’s very classy, except he’s inside his own box and explicitly telegraphed his intentions. Immediately, Willian looks to pounce, but Leicester just about escape.
49 min Nice blind-side run from Barkley – he’s started livelylilylily – and when Azpilcueta finds him, his cross is blocked behind for a corner. It comes to nowt.
47 min Barkley gets himself involved, finding Willian, who moves inside to create space for a return pass, then knocks it over the by-line.
46 min Off we go again, and again Chelsea make an immediate mess, Rudiger dithering under a high ball and heading into the path of Vardy down the left. Perez is in the middle, but there are plenty of defenders blocking the route to him, so Vardy shoots hopefully when he might have cut back. Still, another good start from Leicester.
A displeased Frank Lampard has made three half-time changes: Gilmour, James and Mount off, Kovacic, Azpilicueta and Barkley on.
Half-time: Leicester City 0-0 Chelsea
That was one of the better halves of football I’ve seen this post-season. Leicester were much the better team, but the only proper chances they created were headers from corners, while Chelsea’s Pulisic forced a brilliant save from Schmeichel. The second half should be decent.
45 min There’ll be one added minute. I’m pretty sure the drinks break was longer than that.
45 min Chelsea’s defenders have been clueless today, and when Ndidi wins it again, Barnes sweeps it in behind for Vardy, running off Zouma and Rudiger before they’ve bothered to remember that today is Sunday and they have work. But the ball is on his left foot and running across him, so he’s unbalanced by the time he draws back his foot, sending a tame effort skipping just wide of the far post.
43 min Of course, Leicester last reached the semis in 1982 – this is the goal that beat them, scored by Garth Crooks. I wonder if he’d have put himself in team of the week, as an attacking full-back perhaps.
41 min If there was a crowd in, this would be a serious piece of game. It’s not bad at all as is, but an extra spark would make a huge difference.
40 min Abraham picks up the ball on the right touchline and sends it infield to Pulisic, who’s crowded out easily enough.
37 min “My mate Luke loves a bad pun, so I took to calling the Inter Milan striker Romeluke Lukelakluke. Once we had lunch and ate a Khmer dish called Lok Lak and Dr. Seussesque alliteration ensued.”
Tangentially, one of my favourite things in the English language is Ross Barkley saying “Lukaku”.
36 min A quiet period.
34 min “Ever since listening to Mike Dean go on the entertaining Peter Crouch podcast,” says Ezra Finkelstein, “I’ve begun to see the human side in him. Makes you think twice before shouting abuse.”
I enjoy Mike Dean.
32 min Barnes into Tielemans, who’s stronger in the tackle than Zouma, allowing Barnes to collect the loose ball. His first touch is really good, dragging it into his stride, but when he has to make a decision – whether to shoot or find Vardy in the middle – he lashes wildly high and wide of the near post.
30 min Blinding save Schmeichel! Mount, moving across the face of the box from left to right, slides a fine reverse-pass, low and hard, in behind the Leicester defence, and Pulisic seizes on it to take it away from Gilmour, absolutely shmicing a riser that the keeper prangs away from close to him.
29 min Eesh! Leicester win a free-kick 30 yards out, left of centre, which Chilwell flights towards the penalty spot, and Evans goal-side of Zouma! But he doesn’t get proper purchase on his header, and the ball drifts wide. That was a very good chance.
27 min Tell you who’s been quiet so far: Lil Mikey Dean. I’m sure we’ll see something from him soon, the absolute superstar.
25 min Frank Lampard has given his players what for, and fair enough – they’ve been miserable so far. Let’s see if it makes any difference.
24 min Drinks; Chelsea need a strong one. A polish butterfly, maybe.
23 min Soyuncu hacks Pulisic and is booked; should Leicester reach the semye, he’ll miss it.
23 min “I don’t know if you saw the cutaway to Maddison a couple minutes ago,” says Adam Kline-Schoder, “but he looks to be wearing a shirt inside of which you could fit 2.5 James Maddisons. Did someone deflate him? Pleasing to finally have an open and high-quality first half of football post-restart. Enjoy!”
I’m not sure it’s possible to deflate James Maddison. He is not short of confidence, I do not believe.
21 min Chelsea have been sloppier than a nana’s kiss and here’s more of it, Emerson playing Zouma into trouble with Vardy scavenging, but he manages to get the ball away, just.
20 min Gilmour gives it away again, Tielemans intercepting, and with space to shoot, he semi-drags an effort that Caballero tips around the post. The corner yields another, which the keeper punches clear.
18 min Nice from Leicester again, Ndidi into Perez out to Praet down the right ... and he snaps in a first-time cross that Vardy didn’t expect.
18 min Chelsea are playing in the kind of polo shirt you usually see on the news, hurling a chair across a European square.
16 min Chelsea need to step it up in midfield – Leicester are moving about them far too easily at the moment.
14 min Leicester win a free-kick down the left which Tielemans curls into the box ... and Ndidi is on his absolute bill! But he can’t quite contort his head behind the ball, so Caballero fields his effort easily enough.
12 min I went to school with someone called Sammy Abraham, who’s now a rabbi, and as such I refer to Chelsea’s number 9 as “Rabbi Tammy Abraham”. Anyone else got any similar nicknames?
11 min Bit of possession for Chelsea, across the back four then back to Caballero. Eventually, the ball goes long to Tammy Abraham, putting him in a race with Soyuncu; Schmeichel comes out to clear.
10 min It’s really windy out there, the ball swirling about whenever it’s sent into the air. Leicester are still dominating possession, but Chelsea are improving slowly.
8 min Whatever happens, Chelsea will be a lot of un to watch next season. Hakim Ziyech is a beautiful footballer, and Timo Werner is so explosive. If Lampard can add Kai Havertz to that, he’ll be a defence away from title contention.
7 min How many of Chelsea’s young players will be long-term first-choices at the club? I’m going with James and Gilmour; I’m not sure about Hudson-Odoi, while Mount, Abraham and Tomori will be squad players, I think.
5 min Chelsea are struggling to put two passes together, and when Leicester probe down the right, Rudiger has to show Tielemans into touch.
3 min Vardy down the left again, and again his low cross is kicked clear. This is excellent from home side, less so from Chelsea, who are full of Sunday afternoon vibe.
3 min Here come Leicester again, down the left again with Barnes and Vardy, but the eventuating cross is kicked away.
2 min I think we might be listening to recorded noise of those inflatable clappers. I’m choking up here.
1 min Leicester hare away when Gilmour gives it away, Barnes driving towards the box and playing a wall-pass off Vardy, but when he might hit it first time he takes an extra touch and the ball runs away. Excellent start.
1 min The players take a knee – it gets no less moving, affection, incandescing – and off we go.
The players are out, and we didn’t even get to see the march. Strength and comfort with us all at this difficult time.
I’m really not sure how this game is going to go. I guess Chelsea are favourites, given form and the effective absence of home advantage, but Leicester have too many good players to keep being rubbish. They’ll need Tielemans to be on it because without him, they’re asking a lot of their front three, while Chelsea might need one more class player in attack. I think I just talked myself into saying I fancy a 0-0.
Elsewhere, “this league” continues. Follow along here:
“Though I’m a Liverpool supporter, surely nobody can think that Trent Alexander-Arnold won’t be the England right-back for the foreseeable future?” asks Mike MacKenzie. “He can and will improve his defending skills but going forward nobody is even close to him.”
I’m not sure. He’s brilliant, no doubt about that, but if the opposition had a serious left-winger, I’d think very carefully about sticking Wan-Bissaka in. If I did that, I’d think very seriously about sticking Alexander-Arnold in midfield.
Brendan “Brendan” Rodgers says he’s putting everything into the cup competitions, and hopes the players will use their disappointing league cup semi defeat to wind them up. He wants to keep the freshness of his team, which is why he’s made a few changes, but his defence has been good so he’s mainly leaving that alone. He thinks Chelsea have outstanding players and notes two outstanding games against them in the league.
I love Troy Deeney.
“Maybe a majority of the football in the Premier League is always rancid,” emails Chris Ross, “but it’s the 40,000 fans screaming at it, that gives a false impression. That and the focus on GOALS!”
Maybe the majority of all football is rancid, but it don’t find it tepid, as I have most of what I’ve seen so far. Hopefully the intensity will increase as the players get fitter and stakes get higher.
When men were “lads”.
Lampard hopes his team will produce a level of performance similar to that they produced midweek, lamenting his team’s inconsistency. He also says that playing City requires a huge physical effort, which is why he’s made so many changes, but expects a similar or even better show. He’s pleased to select Billy Gilmour, who is a talent, and expects Leicester to make it a good contest.
For those of us who are very old, this fixture means only one thing: one of the great robberies.
On BT, Robbie Savage is talking about Wycombe Wonderers. They’re so indecisive.
There are so many good, young English players around at the moment it’s absolutely ridiculous – in the 36 years I’ve been watching “this game” there’s never been anything like it. Gareth Southgate has so many players to choose from – at right-back, for example, he’ll have to spend the next 1- years picking between James, Alexander-Arnold and Wan-Bissaka. I actually think the delayed Euros will massively work in his favour, because almost all his key players are improving, and in a year it may well be impossible to leave out Bukayo Saka, Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden.
This should be a really good game. I say, this should be a really good game.
A few minutes ago, Arsenal nudged past Sheffield United, whose late goal was superseded by an even later goal. Read all about it here:
We saw what can happen when you make too many changes in yesterday’s execrable Norwich-Man United game, but Lampard has only made two in midfield and attack, so should get a smoother performance than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did. I’m really looking forward to seeing Reece James, who is a colossal talent, likewise Billy Gilmour, while Christian Pulisic is so full of confidence at the moment.
As for Franklampardschelsea, Frank Lampard makes six changes from the midweek win over Manchester City. At the back, Caballero, Zouma, Emerson and James come in for Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christenson and Alonso; in midfield, Gilmour replaces Barkley; while up front, it’s Abraham not Giroud.
Two interesting selections there. Leicester look far better balanced than they did the other night – 4-3-3 suits them, 4-4-2 doesn’t – and they haven’t even started playing yet. They’ll miss the injured James Maddison, but will be much better for having Youri Tielemans back, likewise Harvey Barnes and Ayoze Perez. I’d expect far greater speed and flexibility than we saw against Brighton.
Leicester City (a chilled-out, entertaining, 4-3-3): Schmeichel; Justin, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi, Praet, Tielemans; Perez, Vardy, Barnes. Subs: Ward, Morgan, Bennett, Fuchs, Choudhury, Mendy, Gray, Albrighton, Iheanacho.
Chelsea (a homespun, folksy, feelgood 4-3-3): Caballero; James, Rudiger, Zouma, Emerson; Kante, Gilmour, Mount; Willian, Abraham, Pulisic. Subs: Kepa, Alonso, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Pedro, Giroud.
Referee: Mike Dean (Yesssssssss!)
We’re all friends here, so we can be honest with each other: since the return of “this league”, its football has been almost uniformly rancid. It’s still great to have it in our lives, obviously – saving clubs and jobs is especially important, something fun to think about in quiet moments is especially restorative – but we’re about ready for some quality.
This afternoon’s encounter is one that, in normal circumstances, we’d be all over: two youthful, likeable, energetic teams, battering into each other after the classic knockout style. But in this instance, we don’t have a club what we’re going to get.
It’s strange really. We could ascribe the tepidness to the absence of fans, except when the Bundesliga restarted the games weren’t really like that. Perhaps the nature and style of English football means that the players are more reliant on external adrenaline, but in a game like this one, they need to find it within themselves.
Leicester need something desperately. They conceded late at Watford then were absolutely munting against Brighton – the wrong team, playing the wrong formation, wrongly – and know that a season which looked a certain triumph is now under threat.
Chelsea, on the other hand, are in a great place. They look sharp going forward and won very well in midweek, but more than that, there’s a sense that things are changing: the club want to be good again, and are prepared to spend the money that it takes to make that happen. The players want to be part of that, and know that if they don’t play well, someone else probably will.
We’ve talked ourselves into it haven’t we. This is going to be great!
Kick-off: 4pm BST