PAST champions honoured the new as Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City walked out to a guard of honour at Stamford Bridge for this season-ending draw between the two sides.
After the season they had, few could have blamed Leicester’s players, who had lost just three times in the league all season, for what turned to out to be a relatively tame display from the newly crowned Premier League champions.
Midfielder Danny Drinkwater equalised with 10 minutes of the match remaining after Chelsea had taken a second-half lead through Cesc Fabregas.
Despite playing a strong side, including the likes of Jamie Vardy and Ridyad Mahrez, Leicester couldn’t force their way behind Chelsea’s strong back line.
Ranieri, who managed Chelsea for three-and-a-half years at the beginning of the Roman Abramovich regime, took the plaudits from the home supporters, who sung his name through the match.
Meanwhile, the match marked the end of the second spell in charge for Guus Hiddink, who hands over the reins of this Chelsea side to Italian Antonio Conte. As he did last time around, the Dutchman did a fine job in steadying the ship.
This Chelsea squad, however, is need of severe attention, and fans will hope Conte’s arrival will signal a reverse in fortunes.
Spaniards Pedro and Fabregas, as well as striker Bertrand Traore, all had opportunities to open the deadlock for the home side.
Midway through the first half, the home supporters were united in a moment of applause for their captain John Terry, who could be on his way out of the club. The defender, who made his debut in October 1998, is out of contract in the summer.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s players continued their onslaught on Leicester’s goal. Kasper Schmeichel’s 40th-minute save from a shot by Willian was the pick of the bunch.
On 65 minutes, Fabregas was given the opportunity to put his side ahead when Nemanja Matic was fouled by substitute Jeffrey Schlupp in the penalty area. The midfielder stroked the ball beyond Schmeichel.
However, Chelsea’s players could not build upon the lead, and on 82 minutes, Drinkwater picked up the ball 30 yards out before firing a firm shot beyond goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
It was enough to seal the draw.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.