Leicester boss Claude Puel said the decision to send off Ben Chilwell at Chelsea was “harsh” as his side drew a match they probably should have won.
The Foxes dominated possession for large periods and created the better chances but had the sting taken out of their display when defender Chilwell was shown two yellow cards in the space of five second-half minutes.
He was shown no mercy by referee Mike Jones in the 68th minute when he brought down Victor Moses, shortly after fouling Willian.
“At the end the feeling is mixed,” said Frenchman Puel. “A good point, against 11 at the end.
“The red card was harsh. The two yellow cards – it is not balanced. It’s difficult to accept, but the point makes it a little bit OK.”
The Foxes went close twice through Jamie Vardy, while Wilfred Ndidi’s header was acrobatically pushed away by Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea looked leggy and short of ideas. Cesc Fabregas had two good efforts – twice testing Kasper Schmeichel – and seconds from the end the Danish keeper pushed away a free-kick from Marcos Alonso.
The Blues are now level on points with second-placed Manchester United, who host Stoke on Monday.
Leicester have 31 points and remain in eighth.
Foxes’ good work undone by Chilwell red
It was the generally more timid of the two managers who got their side to play the more exhilarating football at Stamford Bridge.
Puel’s side harried the Blues from the first whistle, and should have scored at least once from one of their three chances in the 10th minute.
England striker Vardy, fit again after a groin problem, found the side-netting and fired just wide, while Shinji Okazaki also missed narrowly after more initial good work by Vardy.
Riyad Mahrez has been the subject of rumours linking him to Liverpool and Arsenal, but today his mind was clearly on the matter in hand. He was exceptional in midfield and found Vardy twice with exquisite passes, only for the striker to miss the target with one strike and have another blocked by Gary Cahill.
Leicester’s best chance of the match fell to Ndidi, whose instinctive header was brilliantly pushed away – one-handed – by Courtois.
The Foxes looked set to turn the screw midway through the second half, but had to change their gameplan when England Under-21 defender Chilwell was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Nevertheless, the defence continued to look comfortable against a Chelsea attack bereft of ideas. The only time Schmeichel was severely tested was moments before the final whistle, when he tipped Alonso’s low free-kick around the post.
Tired-looking Blues deliver lacklustre performance
Did fatigue play a part in Chelsea’s dispirited display? Or did manager Antonio Conte’s suggestion he might not be at Stamford Bridge next season have anything to do with it?
This was Chelsea’s seventh game in 21 days and they looked like a side sapped of energy.
Striker Alvaro Morata, who had a great first half to the season with 13 goals from 26 matches in all competitions, has not found the net in his past five and did not have one effort against the Foxes.
Wing-backs Alonso and Victor Moses barely troubled the opposition full-backs, while playmakers Fabregas and Eden Hazard were both replaced only 13 minutes into the second half.
Bar two good saves to deny Fabregas, there was no need for heroics from Schmeichel until the final seconds.
This looked an excellent chance for Chelsea to regain second place. Now Conte’s side have to pick themselves up for another four games in 14 days.
Man of the match – Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester)
‘We are not creating chances’ – the reaction
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte speaking to BBC’s Match of the Day: “I think we played with a lot of top players against Arsenal, and then again today against a very good team. I think a lot of our players were tired.
“In the first half Leicester ran more than us, they played better than us. But we knew we were playing against a good opponent, maybe the worst opponent we could have played in this moment. We suffered a lot in the first half.”
On Alvaro Morata: “I don’t think it is only Morata’s problem, also the other players. We are not scoring goals, we are not conceding, but we are not creating chances.
On injury to Gary Cahill (who came off in the 33rd minute): “I think he is with the doctor now, but it’s OK. I do not think it was serious.”
Leicester boss Claude Puel on Riyad Mahrez’s future at Leicester: “We can see from today he is enjoying his football, he is happy in playing, in training, he is happy with us and his team-mates. There is a lot of speculation about the players, but of course we are happy with him, and we want to keep our best player.”
Foxes see red again – the stats
- Chelsea have drawn three consecutive games 0-0 in all competitions for the first time in their history.
- Leicester had 12 shots in the first half – the most of any visiting team in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge since 2003-04. However, they managed just two shots after the interval.
- Chelsea had seven shots on target in this match – only twice since 2003-04 have they had more in a Premier League home game in which they failed to score (nine v Newcastle in November 2008 and West Ham in January 2014).
- The Foxes have kept consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time since May 2017.
- Only Watford (four) have been shown more red cards than Leicester (three) in the Premier League this season.
- Leicester were shown the last Premier League red card of 2017, and the first of 2018.
Chelsea face an FA Cup replay at home to Norwich on Wednesday (19:45 GMT) and the Foxes also have an FA Cup replay, against Fleetwood Town, 24 hours earlier.