Alonso bag brace as Chelsea down Leicester

Marcos Alonso scored twice against Leicester. He is the highest scoring defender this season
Marcos Alonso scored twice against Leicester to restore Chelsea’s lead at the top of the league

Marcos Alonso scored twice as Chelsea beat Leicester to move seven points clear at the top of the Premier League, despite Diego Costa’s absence.

The Blues were without their top scorer after a training ground dispute over his fitness, amid reports he has been offered a lucrative move to China.

That saga did not affect them at the King Power Stadium, however, with Eden Hazard setting up Alonso to fire home after only six minutes.

The Spanish wing-back added his second early in the second half when his shot from the edge of the area was deflected in.

Deal of the day

Pedro made sure of the points with a deft header from Willian’s cross.

Leicester, lining up in a new-look 3-5-2 formation, struggled to find a way back into the game.

Ahmed Musa had tested Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois before his side fell behind, but the defending champions did not manage another shot on target.

Chelsea show they can win without Costa

Before kick-off, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte had played down any row involving Costa, claiming he was not in his squad because of a back injury.

Whatever the truth behind Costa’s absence, the Blues showed again that they can win without the Spain striker, who has scored 14 goals and provided five assists for them this season.

Chelsea initially had to work harder for the points than they did when Costa was suspended in their 3-0 victory over Bournemouth on 26 December – the only other league game he has missed in 2016-17.

Again they used Hazard to lead the line rather than turn to £33m summer signing Michy Batshuayi, who was left on the bench and still awaits his first league start.

Alonso, rather than Hazard, will get the headlines on this occasion, but Chelsea’s dominant performance was further evidence it will be hard to dislodge them from top spot.

BBC Sport