Determined Chelsea performance banishes FA Cup demons

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Chelsea were deserved winners in the capital
Chelsea were deserved winners in the capital / Glyn Kirk - Pool/Getty Images

Chelsea had plenty of reasons to be extra motivated to beat Leicester on Tuesday night.

Not only had the Foxes defeated them in the FA Cup final just a few days prior, the game also saw something resembling a normal amount of supporters return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since the pandemic began back in March 2020.

Chelsea v Leicester City - Premier League
Chelsea fans must have enjoyed the performance / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

What's more, Leicester had dispatched of them 2-0 back in January - a result which spelled the beginning of the end of Frank Lampard's managerial reign.

With all of this in mind, it perhaps was not too surprising that Chelsea put in an emotional performance on Tuesday evening. This frustrated energy boil over at the end, with Ricardo Pereira's challenge on Ben Chilwell sparking the best Premier League 22-man brawl since the Battle of the Bridge back in 2016.

However, Chelsea's stomach churning desire to win did not only fuel this amusing fracas. Thomas Tuchel's charges also channelled this energy to put in one of the most focussed displays of his tenure.

Antonio Rudiger - who was particularly fired up all evening - and Jorginho were Chelsea's scorers in a vital 2-1 victory. The scoreline seriously flattered their opponents as well. Right from the first whistle, the Blues burst out of the traps like a team possessed, suffocating Leicester whenever they dared to venture out of their defensive third.

James Maddison and Ayoze Perez - the Foxes' two attacking midfielders - were reduced to spectators throughout with Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, and latterly Mateo Kovacic, marking them out of the game.

Out wide they held supremacy as well. Ben Chilwell - so cruelly denied an equaliser against his former club at Wembley - and Cesar Azpilicueta restricted Leicester's wing-backs to hopeful clips into the channels for Jamie Vardy to chase.

Vardy himself was kept under wraps by Reece James, who was drafted into the back three for that exact purpose.

Chelsea v Leicester City - Premier League
There was a brawl near the end / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The fact that Chelsea dealt with Leicester so effectively for all but the closing stages on Tuesday, when Kelechi Iheanacho's typically clinical finish set up a tense finale, will have Blues fans tearing their hair out that they could not get the job done in the FA Cup.

In the cold, unfeeling world of modern football though, this result was bigger. Much bigger. Provided Chelsea can win against Aston Villa on Sunday - a team who should already be on the beach - they are guaranteed a place in next season's Champions League. They could even enter the competition as holders as well.

That, considering the position that Chelsea were in when Tuchel took over, is quite remarkable.