American forward Christian Pulisic was back among the goals as Premier League leader Chelsea extended its advantage at the top of the table to six points with a comfortable 3-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday.
The visitor raced into a two-goal lead inside 28 minutes after Antonio Rudiger climbed highest from a corner to head home and N’Golo Kante arrowed in a rare goal.
Leicester improved after the break, but Chelsea remained in control and put the game to bed when Pulisic, who has endured a frustrating, injury-interrupted season, stepped off the bench and scored in the 71st minute.
The victory, Chelsea’s fifth from six away league games this season, moved the Blues onto 29 points, six clear of second-placed defending champion Manchester City, which plays West Ham United on Sunday.
Leicester, which has for so long been top-four challengers in the Premier League, is well off the pace in 12th after its fifth loss of the season.
“It was a good performance and we could’ve finished the game earlier,” Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel said. “There are still things to improve, decision making and conversion, but it was a mature performance and we needed it.
Chelsea started brightly, with former Leicester full-back Ben Chilwell denied by the crossbar early on.
The goal that gave the visitor the lead was always likely to come via one route though: Coming into the match, no side had scored Premier League goals with headers this season than Chelsea, and no team has conceded more via headers than Leicester. Sure enough, some slack Leicester marking allowed Rudiger to head home.
It was all too easy for Chelsea thereafter, with Leicester, which beat the Blues in their previous two meetings – last season’s FA Cup final and a Premier League victory at the King Power in January – offering no response.
With Leicester also allowing far too much space ahead of them, Kante took advantage to make it two, given time to carry the ball to the edge of the home penalty area before firing in.
It took the host until the 58th minute to create a shot on or off target, with substitute James Maddison shooting straight at Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy before Daniel Amartey did actually force Mendy into a fine stop.
Chelsea’s strength in depth was clear for all to see as two substitutes combined to put the game to bed, as Hakim Ziyech fed Pulisic, who scored his first Blues goal since August at the near post.
It could have been more, with Chelsea having three goals ruled out for offside, and would not have been undeserved, given its dominance at the King Power.
“The attitude is amazing but confidence is not where it has been,” Leicester coach Brendan Rodgers said. “It is my job to bring that back, it has been difficult for us this season but that responsibility starts with me so I have to find a solution for it.”