Mason Mount and Chelsea make light of Romelu Lukaku issue against toothless Leicester – Mike Walters
The 22-year-old Blues midfielder was a constant thorn in the side of the Foxes as Chelsea made light work of Leicester to go six points clear at the top of the table
Abcess makes the heart grow fonder, and Chelsea are top of the league despite playing for a month without a recognised centre-forward.
Sometimes in football, as Mason Mount can testify, the tooth is stranger than fiction.
England playmaker Mount, who missed the ritual slaughters of Albania and a pub team called San Marino after surgery to extract his wisdom teeth, was all smiles at the King Power.
In £98million record signing Romelu Lukaku ‘s absence, Chelsea’s strikers have had as much bite as a set of false teeth in a jar beside the bed.
Timo Werner has pace to burn but can’t hit a bed of roses with a garden sprinkler, while Kai Havertz is not so much a false No.9 as a synthetic striker.
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But none of that matters when you have Mount filling gaps like a dentist let loose with a petri-dish of amalgam.
Making his first start since helping himself to a maiden hat-trick against Norwich – his only goals of the season – Mount may have been a supporting act as Leicester old boys N’Golo Kante and Ben Chilwell had a field day.
Kante, the biggest single reason the Foxes defied 5,000-1 odds to win the title in 2016, crowned a wonderful display with a surging run and 25-yard hit – off that famous left foot – to make it 2-0.
And Chilwell, baited mercilessly by home fans for joining the bane drain from Filbert Way to Stamford Bridge last year, didn’t let a critical audience disturb his exemplary set-piece delivery.
He also kissed the bar with a fierce shot in the opening minutes and required Kasper Schmeichel’s fingertips to intervene urgently after the interval.
But Mount is a manager’s dream, running the hard yards with a minimum of floss and working the channels as expertly as a dental surgeon navigating root canals with a drill.
For some reason there is a sense, both at club and international level, that Mount is teacher’s pet, first name on the teamsheet and afforded favourable treatment.
You must be joking. He goes to the top of the class because Chelsea are a more effective side when he’s in it and he’s the first law of cavity: If there’s a hole that needs filling, Mount’s the answer.
As for Leicester, if this was manager Brendan Rodgers’ audition for the Manchester United job, it was just about pitch-perfect: Booed off, after 45 minutes without a single shot, their defensive frailties run deep.
Rodgers is not the first coach to pin his faith in zonal marking, and his players won’t be the last to execute it poorly.
But it beggars belief that Antonio Rudiger, the tallest player on the pitch, should be afforded such an uncluttered path to head Chelsea in front from Chilwell’s corner.
As BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand observed: “I never liked zonal marking when I played – it takes away the me versus you element. That’s what I don’t like.”
Six months ago, after Youri Tielemans’ stunning winner, Kelechi Iheanacho was walking around Wembley balancing the FA Cup on his head after the Foxes had lifted the old pot for the first time at Chelsea’s expense.
This was a million miles from the rainbows over Wembley’s arch on a stormy Saturday evening last May.
For Rodgers, it was more like plucking teeth.
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