Chelsea finished the 2018/19 Premier League season with a goalless draw away at Leicester City in their final game before the UEFA Europa League final in Baku at the end of the month.
Maurizio Sarri’s first season has been a successful one as the Blues have secured Champions League football for next term whilst also having a European final to look forward to but Sunday’s game was far from special.
Both sides rued missed opportunities as a rather meaningless end-of-season affair petered out in the way many fans had expected after Chelsea made wholesale changes following Thursday night’s penalty shootout win against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Neither Eden Hazard nor N’Golo Kante started while Willy Caballero was between the sticks on the back of Kepa’s heroics in the Europa League.
Chelsea were keen to dominate the game from the very start and despite Leicester’s famous threat on the counter-attack, the visitors weren’t giving them a chance to get forward. Ross Barkley came close to breaking the deadlock within four minutes but his left-footed half volley was brilliantly kept out by Kasper Schmeichel from point-blank range.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Willian had chances but neither were able to test the Danish goalkeeper before his opposite number was called into action by a rather tame ben Chilwell strike from 20 yards. That effort started a period of dominance for the hosts as James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Jamie Vardy all had opportunities that they were unable to take.
The latter then had a chance to lay on a tap-in for the on-loan Tielemans but he let the away side off the hook massively as he got, what should have been, a simple pass badly wrong.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, on the stroke of half time Gonzalo Higuain had an even better chance but after getting his feet in a muddle a few yards from goal, the ball bobbled out for a goal kick to rapturous cheers from the Leicester supporters.
Moments after the teams came out for the second half, the impressive Tielemans almost put the Foxes in front in spectacular fashion but his dipping volley from all of 30 yards dropped just wide of the post.
Although that somewhat kicked Chelsea back into life, Barkley’s weak effort was all they could muster as both sides seemed more than happy to share the points. The atmosphere was party-like though as title-winners Danny Simpson and Shinji Okazaki both came off the bench for their final Leicester appearances and their introductions from the bench were even applauded by the very respectful set of visiting supporters.
With very little in the way of second-half chances, the game finished goalless which benefitted Sarri and his players who confirmed their place in 3rd position, a brilliant finish considering the struggles throughout the campaign.
Focus now switches to their London derby 2,500 miles away in Azerbaijan where they will face Arsenal for the Europa League trophy.