This was a day to confirm what most at Chelsea may already have known. This season, Chelsea are not in a title race.
Eleven points behind leaders Liverpool before the dawn of Christmas, Chelsea are instead operating among the also-rans. Indeed, as Arsenal improve and Manchester United rally, there is no guarantee of a return to Champions League football next season.
After two previous defeats in the Premier League in December, this was another day.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa 7.5; Azpilicueta 6, Rudiger 6, Luiz 6, Alonso 6; Kante 6, Jorginho 5.5 (Fabregas 75, 6), Kovacic 5 (Loftus-Cheek 61, 6); Pedro 6, Hazard 6.5, Willian 5.5 (Giroud 61, 5.5)
Subs not used: Caballero, Zappacosta, Cahill,, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Giroud
Manager: Maurizio Sarri 5.5
Leicester (4-5-1): Schmeichel 7; Ricardo 7, Maguire 7, Morgan 7, Chilwell 8; Albrighton 7, Choudhury 7.5, Mendy 7.5, Ndidi 7, Maddison 7.5 (Gray 82); Vardy 7.5 (Iheanacho 84)
Subs not used: Ward, Evans, Fuchs, Iborra, Okazaki
Manager: Claude Puel 7.5
Booked: Mendy, Ndidi
Scorers: Vardy (51)
Referee: Lee Probert 7
Attendance: 40, 558.
They do not possess an outstanding centre-half, as underlined by how Jamie Vardy broke free of Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz to score the Leicester winner, and manager Maurizio Sarri requires a world-class frontman to liberate Eden Hazard and take games away from even middle-tier opposition.
For Chelsea’s manager and his Sarri-ball vision, this was a damaging afternoon and in truth, Leicester’s margin might have been more handsome. The goal, struck on 51 minutes, destabilised Chelsea.
‘After the goal, it was a strange reaction,’ Sarri said. ‘Not in the right direction. Not as a team. But as 11 different players. So it was really very strange. There was time to score. Instead, we were without a reaction, as a team shocked, a team in mental confusion.
‘As we said from the beginning of the season, we knew very well that, for us, this season it was impossible for us to fight for the Premier League.’