Leicester piles more misery on Chelsea to go top of EPL

Christian Pulisic of Chelsea is challenged by Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Chelsea at The King Power Stadium on January 19, 2021 in Leicester, England.

Five years after achieving the unthinkable, Leicester are back atop the Premier League and making another improbable run at the title.

For big-spending Chelsea and their under-pressure manager, Frank Lampard, any ambitions of winning the league already appear to be dashed.

Leicester beat Chelsea 2-0 on Wednesday (AEDT) to jump above the two Manchester clubs, United and City, and reach the midway stage of its league campaign in first place.

Even if their latest time at the summit lasts just one night – City and United are both in action on Thursday, after all – Leicester are showing they mean business again. Just like in the 2015-16 season, when the team managed by Claudio Ranieri famously delivered one of the biggest underdog triumphs in sporting history to win the league at odds of 5000-1.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said it was "still too early" to talk about his team as a title contender.

"We're at the top of the league because we work hard, we're not there by fluke," said James Maddison, who scored Leicester's second goal. "We'll do our business in the background, let them talk about Liverpool, Man United and Spurs, we'll just keep doing what we're doing."

Wilfred Ndidi and Maddison scored in the first half as Leicester extended their unbeaten run in the league to six games, the last three all being wins.

Chelsea were carved open time and again at the King Power Stadium and fell to a fifth loss in their last eight games in the league, a run of results that leaves Lampard's position precarious after the club's spending spree ahead of this season.

"It intensified for me a while ago," Lampard said. "Because the expectations at this club, whether they are right or wrong, are always high.

"It's not my decision [about whether he'll stay as manager]. That's something that will always be there."

Lampard's side dropped to eighth place, nine points behind Leicester, who are a point ahead of United.

"Yeah, I'm worried," Lampard said. "From the form we were in to get so quickly into the form that we are now in ... we should be better than that.

"It takes character to turn from that."

IN-FORM ANTONIO

As it stands, West Ham are heading into the second half of their Premier League campaign with just one senior striker.

Fortunately for manager David Moyes, that striker is in-form Michail Antonio.

Antonio scored a match-winning goal for the second time in four days, his 66th-minute volley earning West Ham a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion.

His winner against Burnley on the weekend came on his first league start since recovering from a hamstring problem, the latest fitness issue to affect an injury-prone player who was one of the league's best players after lockdown last summer.

If Moyes can keep Antonio fit – and that's always a big if – it isn't too fanciful to see West Ham remaining in the vicinity of their current position of seventh.

"There was a period after lockdown when he was very fit and look at the goals he scored then," Moyes said. "We are looking to get him back to his level of fitness but he is certainly back to his level of goals."

West Ham sold their other senior striker, Sebastien Haller, to Ajax this month.

West Brom stayed in next-to-last place, five points from safety.

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