Under-pressure Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho accused his players of betraying him after the club’s season of crisis plunged to new depths with defeat at fearless table-toppers Leicester last night.
England forward Jamie Vardy ended his one-game goal drought to take his season’s tally to 15 before Riyad Mahrez added a second to leave Chelsea staring down the barrel of defeat, rendering substitute Loic Remy’s late strike merely a consolation.
While victory fired Leicester above Arsenal to the Premier League summit, a ninth defeat of the campaign – as many as Chelsea suffered in the previous two combined – left the reigning champions languishing in 16th, just a point above the relegation zone.
“I know one of my best qualities is to read the game for my players, is to read the opponent and identify every detail about the opponent,” said Mourinho, who succeeded current Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri when he was sacked from Chelsea in 2004.
“Our two [conceded]goals are very difficult to accept and a big frustration to accept because I feel my work was betrayed. All last season I did phenomenal work and I brought them to a level which is not their level, it is more than their level. All this season we are doing so bad.
“The players for some reason, I’m not saying all of them of course, I don’t want to put some of them in the same basket, but clearly for some of them it is so difficult.”
Mourinho, who lost playmaker Eden Hazard in the first half to injury and chose to haul off skipper John Terry after 53 minutes, admitted that Chelsea, unless they win this year’s competition, have no chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
He added: “We can’t finish top four, but we can still finish top six.”
Leicester had not beaten Chelsea since February 2001 and during the intervening period had conceded 25 goals in eight matches against the Blues, but opened the scoring shortly after the half-hour mark.
Former Fleetwood striker Vardy darted inbetween the static axis of Terry and Kurt Zouma to meet Mahrez’s sumptuous inswinging cross and prod beyond Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The hosts doubled their lead three minutes after the restart as the scintillating Mahrez collected Marc Albrighton’s crossfield pass and mesmerised Cesar Azpilicueta before bending a shot beyond Courtois for his 11th league goal of the season.
Pugnacious forward Diego Costa was denied by the legs of Kasper Schmeichel, while Branislav Ivanovic failed to convert Willian’s resulting corner from a yard out, although Remy headed home Pedro’s enticing cross to halve the deficit with 13 minutes remaining.