Belfast Telegraph

Old boys roll back years as Chelsea on brink of Premier League title

Leicester City 1-3 Chlesea

Efficient Chelsea moved to the brink of the Barclays Premier League title after they came from behind to beat gutsy Leicester 3-1.

Jose Mourinho's side can now clinch the league against Crystal Palace on Sunday and claim their first crown since 2010.

They are 13 points clear of Manchester City and Arsenal with just four games left, although the Gunners have a match in hand.

Mourinho's men fell behind for the first time since New Year's Day when Marc Albrighton scored his first goal for Leicester on the stroke of half time but were back level within three minutes of the restart through Didier Drogba.

John Terry tapped home 12 minutes from time to leave the travelling fans dreaming of a Stamford Bridge party at the weekend before Ramires' left-footed thunderbolt made sure of the points.

Afterwards, Mourinho claimed Chelsea are the envy of the Premier League.

"It is phenomenal what my team are doing," Mourinho said. "Being top of the league since day one is not easy; I think we are what every team would like to be.

"Stamford Bridge, instead of celebrating, must be ready to push the team on Sunday.

"In April everyone expected us to drop points against Arsenal and Manchester United but April was the month that we destroyed opponents.

"We won every game except the draw against Arsenal so I'm very pleased. Now we just need a few more points."

On his half-time team talk, Mourinho added: "If I tell you on television what I said it will be 'beep, beep, beep'. Too many beeps!"

And on the possibility of winning the title at home to Palace this weekend, the Blues boss said: "We all want to win on Sunday but it will be a difficult game. Stamford Bridge must be ready to push us. I hope they want to play the game with us.

"We need them to help us win the title on Sunday."

It was two of Mourinho's title-winners in 2005 and 2006 who grabbed the crucial goals at the King Power Stadium and they both immediately turned their attentions to the Palace clash.

"We're almost there," Terry said. "We knew they were going to be a tough side and they were. They made it really difficult for us.

"We got a bit of a telling-off at half time and came out and responded really well in the second half.

"We've been the best side all season and have a chance to win the title in front of our own fans on Sunday."

Drogba added: "We wanted to make sure the Crystal Palace game would be the one to give us the league so we pushed and scored fantastic goals."

The result ended Leicester's four-game winning run and means they remain just one point above the relegation zone with four matches remaining in their season, but they can take heart from this performance.

The Foxes lost Andy King and former Blues defender Robert Huth to injury in the first 25 minutes and manager Nigel Pearson rued the double loss, while praising Chelsea's champion qualities.

"It was difficult because we've had to make substitutions which in normal circumstances we wouldn't have done - but that's life," said Pearson.

"I don't think our players deserved to be on the end of a 3-1 defeat because it was a tighter game than that.

"I've heard criticisms of Chelsea in recent weeks and I find it very bemusing. The best sides are able to win games in different ways and they've illustrated that here.

"I think they're a really good side and have some great players.

"I'm not oblivious to the views that were spouted at the weekend in terms of style of football but I'm a big believer in winning games and that's it.

"Chelsea are worthy champions. Before the game started we knew it was a case of when, rather than if, Chelsea win the title.

"It is difficult when you have to make a couple of substitutions in the game which are not really tactical, that is difficult to deal with but we gave a good account of ourselves.

"The depth we have within the squad and the confidence I have with the players that are going to be available for Saturday is there.

"There is a feeling we are capable and have given ourselves a better chance of avoiding relegation. Tonight is a setback because when you go ahead you expect to push on but we came up against a side able to take advantage of their quality in second half."

Chelsea ended the night with 11 shots in total.

And Cesc Fabregas now has 17 Premier League assists - the most in any one season is Thierry Henry with 20.

Leicester goalscorer Albrighton is focusing on gaining as many points as possible. He said: "We gave ourselves a good foothold but we couldn't see it through.

"They scored the goal early in the second half and it got them back in the game. We will look to redeem ourselves against Newcastle.

"You can take a little bit from the performance but we have put ourselves in a position where we need points. Performances aren't important - we just need points.

"Staying up is in our hands, and the fans at the King Power will be behind us."

Leicester: Schmeichel, Albrighton, Wasilewski, Huth (De Laet 24), Morgan, Konchesky, Drinkwater, Cambiasso, King (James 19), Ulloa, Vardy (Mahrez 77).

Goals: Albrighton (45+3)

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Fabregas (Mikel 90), Matic, Ramires, Willian (Zouma 84), Hazard (Cuadrado 88), Drogba.

Goals: Drogba 48, Terry 79, Ramires 83.

Man of the match: Eden Hazard

Attendance: 32,021

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph