Friday 23 March 2018

Danny Drinkwater signs off with a goal and now hopes for a summer in France

Danny Drinkwater's goal ensured Leicester took a point at Chelsea
Danny Drinkwater's goal ensured Leicester took a point at Chelsea

Premier League champions Leicester refused to be beaten as they finished their remarkable season with a 1-1 draw at Chelsea.

Cesc Fabregas's penalty saw Chelsea lead, but their successors as champions responded through Danny Drinkwater's long-range effort eight minutes from time.

Leicester, survivors 12 months ago, finished 10 points clear.

Chelsea, their predecessors, ended a miserable campaign in 10th place and with doubt still surrounding the future of captain John Terry.

Owner Roman Abramovich inherited Claudio Ranieri as manager and sacked the Italian in favour of Jose Mourinho in 2004.

Ranieri and Leicester - opponents in the final game of Mourinho's second spell in December - received a guard of honour ahead of the contest, with the past, present and future of Chelsea high on the agenda.

Not least Terry's. The 35-year-old has made 703 appearances since his October 1998 debut and is mulling over the offer of a 12-month contract extension in a "different role".

He was serenaded by Chelsea supporters throughout, acknowledging first half adulation by beating the left side of his chest, over his heart and the club crest which adorned his t-shirt.

Terry lifted the Premier League trophy 12 months ago but was suspended for interim boss Guus Hiddink's final match in charge.

Both sets of supporters taunted Tottenham as visiting fans declared Eden Hazard as "one of our own".

The Chelsea playmaker scored the goal 13 days ago which ended Spurs' hopes and handed Leicester the title.

Finishing with a flourish was important to the Foxes, but Chelsea started the stronger.

Willian's appeal for handball against Christian Fuchs was dismissed and Pedro shot wide across goal, before Jamie Vardy fired wide at the other end.

Riyad Mahrez next played in Vardy. The striker, expected to be named in the England squad on Monday, beat Thibaut Courtois to the ball, but could only loop it wide.

Demarai Gray had a deflected effort and another saved by Courtois, before Kasper Schmeichel was called into action.

The Denmark goalkeeper saved well from Fabregas at his near post and then repelled a Willian shot.

Ranieri was continually gesticulating to his charges, keen for a win on his former stomping ground.

Chelsea had the lion's share of possession, but that has not stopped Leicester this season.

Danny Simpson flashed a shot wide on the break, but Chelsea countered.

Hazard slalomed into the Leicester box and passed to substitute Tammy Abraham, whose attempt to turn and shoot was blocked by Wes Morgan.

Nemanja Matic picked up the loose ball and surged forwards, but half-time substitute Jeff Schlupp mis-timed his tackle and a penalty was awarded.

Replays suggested there was minimal contact. Fabregas sent Schmeichel the wrong way.

Terry was a lone figure behind the dugout who stood up to applaud the goal. He appeared emotional, again.

Abraham and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were joined on the field by debutant Fikayo Tomori as Chelsea looked to the future under Antonio Conte. Terry was left in no doubt the fans' feelings on whether he should be part of it.

Mahrez shot straight at Courtois, who was beaten when Ngolo Kante laid the ball over to Drinkwater.

It was a fine strike from 25 yards as Leicester avoided a fourth loss of the season.


"As the @ChelseaFC players enter the pitch, they form a guard of honour for #lcfc, the new @premierleague champions. Classy." - Leicester City (@LCFC) acknowledge the newly-crowned Premier League champions and their boss and former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri.



Thibaut Courtois: 7 (out of 10)

Cesar Azpilicueta: 7

Baba Rahman: 6

Gary Cahill: 6

Branislav Ivanovic: 6

Nemanja Matic: 6

Cesc Fabregas: 7

Pedro: 6

Bertrand Traore: 5

Eden Hazard: 7

Willian: 6


Tammy Abraham (for Traore, 53 minutes): 6

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (for Pedro, 53): 6

Fikayo Tomori (for Ivanovic, 60): 6


Kasper Schmeichel: 8

Danny Simpson: 6

Christian Fuchs: 6

Marcin Wasilewski: 6

Wes Morgan: 7

N'golo Kante: 7

Danny Drinkwater: 7

Andy King: 6

Jamie Vardy: 7

Ryiad Mahrez: 7

Demarai Gray: 6


Shinji Okazaki (for King, 46): 6

Jeffrey Schlupp (for Gray, 46): 7

Marc Albrighton (for Mahrez, 80): 5


Schmeichel. The goalkeeper showed his class, particularly in the first half, to prove - if it was any doubt - that Leicester have quality throughout.


Drinkwater's strike was delightful. It showed the Foxes would not be beaten and was a fitting conclusion to their stunning season.


With Terry suspended, Ivanovic returned as captain and goalkeeper Courtois was also back in the line-up, with Asmir Begovic and John Obi Mikel dropping out. The Foxes also made two changes, with Drinkwater and Gray in for Marc Albrighton and Shinji Okazaki. Hiddink looked to the future, sending on three academy graduates, including Tomori for his debut. The imposing Abraham created a different problem for Leicester, while Schlupp and Okazaki added impetus for Leicester.


A pedant writes: the tribute to John Terry, who wears the number 26 shirt, was meant to take place in the 26th minute. It happened once the match clock hit 26 minutes, meaning it was the 27th minute. Fourth-choice goalkeeper Jamal Blackman wears the number 27 jersey. Otherwise it was well executed and well received.

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