Brendan Rodgers plays down title talk but relishing challenge

Nick Mashiter, PA
·3-min read

Boss Brendan Rodgers continued to play down Leicester’s title chances despite the Foxes going top of the Premier League.

Wilfred Ndidi and James Maddison scored to beat Chelsea 2-0 at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.

The Foxes are now a point ahead of Manchester United, having played a game more, although Manchester City will take the lead if they beat Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Just six points separate the top seven and Rodgers wants to keep a lid on any talk of a title challenge.

He said: “I don’t really think about it, it’s something which gets floated about and we have seen it all season.

“Tottenham a few weeks ago and Chelsea themselves, five or six weeks ago everyone was talking about them.

“The quality of Manchester City, Liverpool are the champions and Manchester United have been great. For Leicester to be up with the level of teams who are there makes me really happy.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge to be up there but we are happy to take on that challenge.

“You have seen the real spirit of the side tonight. We were a real threat going forward.

“The performance and maturity of the team was pleasing. I knew we were playing against a talented team and we had to be right on our game.”

Ndidi opened the scoring after six minutes when his 20-yard drive flew in off the post, Chelsea switching off from a short Leicester corner.

It set the tone for the game and the hosts never looked back, with Maddison hitting the bar soon after.

Edouard Mendy saved from Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton before Chelsea’s frustrations grew when VAR denied them a penalty after 38 minutes.

Jonny Evans tripped Christian Pulisic and referee Craig Pawson initially pointed to the spot but replays showed the foul was just outside the area.

Mason Mount fired the free-kick over and the Foxes immediately doubled their lead. Kasper Schmeichel’s goal kick eventually fell for Albrighton and his lobbed pass found Maddison unmarked in the area to beat Mendy and settle the game four minutes before the break.

There was no way back for inferior Chelsea and their night was summed up when Timo Werner had a late goal ruled out for offside.

Defeat – a sixth of the season – left them eighth in the top flight, five points behind the top four as the pressure mounts on boss Frank Lampard.

He said: “I can’t get caught up in what the reaction will be. I took this job knowing there will be difficult times. At the moment we have to fight.

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard shows his frustration on the touchline (Rui Vieira/PA)

“Where things were rosy in December, they are not so rosy now. When you are playing well like we were you relax and settle down and this game kicks you up the backside.

“I’m able to handle the pressure. I could sense these periods would come and that’s all I can concern myself about.

“There are players who are not playing as well as they should be, that’s a simple fact.

“I’m disappointed with both the goals. We know we can compete with Leicester when we are are playing well but when you go 2-0 down and you are in a difficult period of form it affects the game hugely.

“The players know they were beaten by a better team, a team we are behind and one we want to catch. The general theme of our performance was slow and sluggish.”