Winter was certainly unforgiving to those in Blue, as a frustrated Thomas Tuchel bemoaned his side’s growing absentee list after Brighton took a point home from Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
Romelu Lukaku returned to the starting lineup with a bang as he headed in the opening goal after 28 minutes, but last-minute hero Danny Welbeck restored parity for the Seagulls in second-half injury time as Chelsea once again came up short at home.
The Blues have now fallen eight points behind runaway leaders Manchester City in the rankings, and even though the season has only just reached its midway point, Tuchel claimed that it would be “stupid” to think his depleted side are capable of competing for top-flight glory.
VAR comments aside as well, four of Chelsea’s last five Premier League encounters at Stamford Bridge have now ended 1-1, and failing to keep a single home clean sheet in that run represents quite the downturn from Chelsea’s formerly steadfast defence under Tuchel.
Despite the Blues boss’ comments, it would be folly to write Chelsea out of the title race ahead of the New Year, and they were certainly done a favour by Leicester before the confidence-sapped Reds make the journey South.
Before the first ball was kicked at the King Power, all the signs pointed towards a Liverpool victory. The Reds had enjoyed a six-day recovery period after dumping the Foxes out of the EFL Cup, while Brendan Rodgers was short of options 48 hours after that 6-3 loss to Manchester City.
However, Leicester dug deep to pick up a morale-boosting festive win in front of their own fans, as Ademola Lookman came off the bench to strike before the Foxes defence held firm to dampen the spirits on the red half of Merseyside.
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Defeat at the King Power marked only Liverpool’s second loss in the 2021-22 season across all competitions, and the third-placed Reds now find themselves nine points adrift of Man City having played a game fewer, and fourth-placed Arsenal are suddenly just six points behind.
Of course, Jurgen Klopp’s crop will leapfrog the Blues back into the top two with victory in the capital, but they have failed to beat three London sides in Brentford, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur away from home so far this season.
Neither Chelsea nor Liverpool tend to kick off the New Year on a high note either, but recent history is in the Reds’ favour, as they have only lost two of their last 11 Premier League games against the Blues at Stamford Bridge