By Tim Harrison
He’d struggle to locate it on a map, but Eden Hazard – arguably the most disappointing Chelsea player this season – will never have to buy a drink in Leicester as long as he lives.
“I don’t believe it! Hazard! After doing nothing all season, he suddenly comes good,” moaned one Spurs fan on the tube after the Blues’ 2-2 bank-holiday draw at the Bridge gifted the Foxes their first top-flight title… in time to organise the weekend’s fireworks at the King Power. Scorer Hazard was outstanding.
The fact that beloved alumnus Claudio Ranieri led Leicester to this unlikely triumph made it doubly enjoyable.
Denying the London rivals a first title since the Beatles were teenagers rescued a grim season for the Blues. While the Foxes went from dodging relegation to becoming champions in a year, Chelsea have virtually made the reverse journey.
There will be root-and-branch rebuilding this summer, to take advantage of the lack of Champions League or Europa distractions. That should mean a high league finish as the new champions wrestle with the unfamiliar issue of three games a week.
Chelsea host their own party on the last day of the season, giving Leicester a guard of honour, and receiving an ovation in return for fighting like tigers to deny Tottenham three points.
It was dirty and bruising, on and off the pitch, inside and outside the ground. With Spurs 2-0 up at half-time, the away fans’ chants alluded to the 1967 FA Cup final, played before most had been born.
But by the end, after Tottenham had been shown nine yellows – a Premier League record, the response was simple. “Two nil, and you messed it up.” At least I think that’s what they were chanting.
Chelsea have now gone 11 Premier League games without a clean sheet at the Bridge, illustrating the area that will top Antonio Conte’s agenda.
Chelsea play Sunderland and Liverpool away in quick succession before the Leicester party.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.