This is a hymn to despair. What else could it be? A season ago, Leicester away was the penultimate hurdle on the road to the title; this go around it was a humiliation. And a predictable one, at that.
Coming off a strong performance against Porto, one might have been forgiven had one expected Chelsea to play decent, incisive stuff. But that would require being completely ignorant as to how the rest of the season has gone. The only reason this team ever gets back on the right track is to find a new and hitherto unexplored way of derailing.
So we came to the King Power Stadium and lost. Lost badly, too -- it was one of those games that featured Chelsea going into all-out panic mode within minutes of second-half kickoff, and that the loss was only 2-1 is reflective of the Foxes being unable to deal with our bewildering, half-dead spasms towards goal rather than anything a coherent football team might produce.
It didn't have to be like that, mind. For most of the first half it looked as though the Blues were putting in a reasonably controlled performance. There were some scares, sure, but when Jamie Vardy kicked Eden Hazard a couple times to send the Belgian off the pitch for good, I had the feeling that the injury would be the only noteworthy event of a stolid, droning opening spell.
Then Vardy got on the end of a Riyad Mahrez cross, expertly bisecting the centre back duo of John Terry and Kurt Zouma to tap past Thibaut Courtois and give Leicester a 1-0 lead.
Chelsea's response was deafeningly pathetic. The attack, which to begin with had had the verve and spark of a particularly boring goldfish, doubled down on impotence. Possession was recycled in an endless, depressing swirl, with no serious chances. And even when they came close, it seemed more by accident than design -- the Blues did give woodwork before the interval, but that non-chance came when Nemanja Matic's looping header kissed the top of the crossbar on its way out of play.
The second half would require a more forceful performance than the first. Unfortunately, Plan A went out the door more or less immediately after a staggering parade of incompetence from Courtois and Cesar Azpilicueta. Under minimal pressure, Courtois decided to step out of his area and head the ball straight back to his hosts, who then quickly worked possession to Mahrez on their right. Azpilicueta failed to make a challenge in the air and then, more damning, also failed to do so on the ground, allowing the winger to twist and shimmy and shoot and score with his strong foot.
2-0 with less than 45 minutes left meant something had to give, and that was something was structure. Chelsea's shape devolved into something out of an Andre Villas-Boas fever dream. John Terry disappeared, with Cesc Fabregas popping up in midfield instead. Ramires ended up as a quasi-right back. Azpilicueta attempted to square himself, without much luck.
Strange as the game then looked, the substitutions did turn the tide. The Blues were on the attack and creating dangerous chances for the first time all match. Possession was shifted quickly -- perhaps too quickly for the Leicester defence to cope -- and a Newcastle-style comeback did not look entirely out of the question.
But having perhaps partially overcome themselves, Chelsea then ran up against a far sterner opponent: the malevolent and comic nature of the universe itself. How else might we explain Diego Costa turning a two on none into a corner? Or how Branislav Ivanovic, on the aforementioned corner, turned what should have been a two-yard tap in into a flailing dance move. Without invoking some sort of farcical, supernatural intervention, it's extremely hard to divine why Loïc Rémy attempted to convert a pullback by doing a wobbly stepover nearby.
Sure, we'd score eventually. Rémy managed to head home from close range with plenty of time to go, possibly because we'd run out of ways to possibly screw our shooting up, but we'd had all the hints we'd need that our best simply wasn't going to be enough. It'd be nice to imagine that Rémy's effort gave us false hope, but I suspect that for most of us, there was no hope at all. It portended a prolonged death rattle rather than anything approximating a comeback, and that was fairly clear from the time it hit the back of the net.
And so we lost again. It's been so many times this year I'm starting to lose count. Eventually this nightmare will end and we will know good times once more, but this season is gone, and it'll have repercussions for years to come. On the plus side, at least this time Chelsea didn't ruin anyone's weekend.