Chelsea beat Leicester City on Saturday 2-1 thanks to a brace from Raheem Sterling as the England star earned his first goals since joining the London side.
Thomas Tuchel’s side played a man down from the 28th minute of the game after Conor Gallagher was sent off after being shown a second yellow for bringing down Leicester’s Harvey Barnes.
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Leicester, who had a goal disallowed in the first half, cut the deficit in half when Barnes found himself on the end of a pass from Jamie Vardy in the 66th minute, but they could not find a way to equalise despite applying pressure in the final minutes.
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1. Sterling saves the day with brace
Raheem Sterling scored his first goals for Chelsea since his £47.5 million summer move from Manchester City, netting both in a 2-1 win against Leicester at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea’s win, following last week’s 3-0 loss against Leeds at Elland Road, was earned the hard way, with midfielder Conor Gallagher being sent off on 28 minutes for two yellow cards, forcing the home side to play with 10 men for more than an hour. But although Leicester had chances to emerge with at least a point, Sterling made the difference for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
The England international eased the home side’s nerves by opening the scoring with a 20-yard strike on 46 minutes. Sterling then doubled Chelsea’s lead on 60 minutes with a far post tap-in from Reece James’ cross.
Harvey Barnes pulled one back for Leicester three minutes later, and Ayoze Perez hit the crossbar in the final moments as the Foxes chased an equaliser, but Sterling’s double was enough to seal the win for Chelsea. Having been signed as the first major addition to the squad since the Todd Boehly-led takeover of Chelsea in the summer, Sterling had failed to deliver in his first three games for the club.
But he finally got off the mark with his two goals against Leicester, who remain in the bottom three after extending their winless start to the season.
2. Blues still a striker short
Sterling’s two-goal display against Leicester was precisely why the England winger was signed from Manchester City this summer — to make match-winning contributions — but Chelsea still need more firepower in Tuchel’s squad. Even before they allowed Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter Milan on loan, followed by Timo Werner’s move back to RB Leipzig, Chelsea were in the market for a new centre-forward, but so far they have added only Sterling to the forward line.
A move for Everton
Whenever Chelsea have been successful in the Premier League, they have relied on the goals of Didier Drogba or Diego Costa to make the difference. Both were powerful, prolific strikers who could net more than 20 goals a season.
Lukaku was signed to do that but never looked close to doing so. Sterling’s capabilities earned Chelsea the win against Leicester, but against their rivals with big ambitions, Tuchel’s side will need more threat. However, they might already have decided the solution isn’t out there in the transfer market.
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3. Leicester facing bumpy road
Leicester haven’t won a game all season — they had to rely on a penalty shootout to beat League 2 Stockport in the Carabao Cup in midweek — and haven’t added a single player to the first-team squad this summer, and the Foxes sit in the bottom three having lost to a Chelsea team reduced to 10 men for over an hour after the first-half sending off of Gallagher.
So having sanctioned the transfer of Wesley Fofana to Chelsea before the game at Stamford Bridge, it is clear that the club are entering a week that could define their season. Unless manager Brendan Rodgers is able to make significant signings before the transfer deadline on Thursday, Leicester will face a season of struggle at the wrong end of the table.
The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Leicester’s owners harder than most, with the King Power duty free business still attempting to recover from the loss of revenue caused by drastically reduced travel into their home country, Thailand, and the need for cost cutting has seen Leicester lose Fofana, as well as goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who has moved to Nice.
At Chelsea, despite having a one-man advantage for so long, Leicester lacked the creativity to hurt the home side, and Rodgers had few options on the bench to make a change. The Fofana money will be crucial to helping Rodgers bring in the new players he needs, but the clock is ticking and Leicester might have left it too late.
Chelsea: Edouard Mendy 8; Reece James 7, Thiago Silva 6, Trevoh Chalobah 7, Marc Cucurella 7; Jorginho 6, Ruben Loftus-Cheek 7, Conor Gallagher 4; Mason Mount 6, Kai Havertz 6, Raheem Sterling 7.
Subs: Cesar Azpilicueta 6, Marco Kovacic 6, Christian Pulisic 6, Ben Chilwell 6.
Leicester: Danny Ward 6; Timothy Castagne 6, Daniel Amartey 7, Jonny Evans 6, James Justin 6; Kienan Dewsbury-Hall 7, Dennis Praet 6, Boubakary Soumare 6, Youri Tielemans 6; Harvey Barnes 7, Jamie Vardy 6.
Subs: Ayoze Perez 6, Kelechi Iheanacho 6, Wilfred Ndidi 6
Best and worst performers
BEST: Edouard Mendy — The Chelsea goalkeeper had to be at his best to ensure victory for the home side, with the Senegal international making crucial saves from Jamie Vardy and Harvey Barnes in the second half.
And although Mendy was lucky not to concede a first-half goal when he was ruled to have been fouled by Barnes, his presence and performance were key for Chelsea.
WORST: Conor Gallagher — Chelsea were forced to play with 10 men for more than an hour after the midfielder was sent off for two yellow cards in the space of six minutes. Gallagher, now getting his chance at Chelsea after a successful loan spell at Crystal Palace last season, was booked for successive fouls on Leicester’s Harvey Barnes, and the 22-year-old showed his inexperience when committing the second foul, deep inside the opposition half. It was a needless booking that gave referee Paul Tierney no choice but to send him off.
Notable social moments
A promising duo …
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 27, 2022
Who wouldn’t be jealous…
His flow is unmatched. pic.twitter.com/rhA8wTNnUq
— Chelsea FC USA (@ChelseaFCinUSA) August 27, 2022
Nice addition to the Shed End.
Raheem at the double at The Shed End. 👌 pic.twitter.com/W60eFTudHJ
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 27, 2022
After the match: What the managers, players said
“You can’t make the [second] challenge if you have a yellow card after 20 or 25 minutes. The challenge was a clear yellow card and gave us a huge disadvantage. There was no reason to make this decision [from Gallagher].” — Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel on Conor Gallagher’s yellow cards
“We are disappointed with the goal that was disallowed … The keeper has made a mistake with his timing…. We created opportunities and there’s no doubt we should have taken at least a point from the game.” — Leicester coach Brendan Rodgers on his side’s performance
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
– Raheem Sterling is the third player in Premier League history to score for each of Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea, joining Nicolas Anelka and Daniel Sturridge.
Chelsea: The Blues face Southampton on Tuesday before hosting West Ham United on Sept. 4.
Leicester City: Leicester host Manchester United on Thursday, then visit Brighton & Hove Albion on Sept. 4.