Puel: I always try to get the balance right for Leicester

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Leicester boss Claude Puel defended his decisions after the Foxes’ first win at Chelsea in 18 years alleviated some of the pressure on his position.

Jamie Vardy’s goal six minutes into the second half inflicted the Blues’ first home defeat of Maurizio Sarri’s reign.

Chelsea’s third defeat in six Premier League games left the Italian pondering his side’s “strange” reaction and “mental confusion”.

But it was Puel’s position under scrutiny prior to the match, following a run of two wins in 12 games heading to Stamford Bridge.

The Frenchman’s team selection was questioned for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final with Manchester City, who advanced on penalties, as Vardy was rested to manage his return from a groin problem.

He proved his fitness with a sixth goal of the season as Leicester won at Chelsea for the first time since September 2000.

“I have nothing to justify,” Puel said. “I am the manager of my team and try always to do my best to get the right balance to protect some players, get the best out of other players, and put a team on the pitch with the ability to win the game.”

Chelsea v Leicester City – Premier League – Stamford Bridge
Claude Puel delivered an overdue Leicester win at Stamford Bridge (Nigel French/PA)

“I made my work. It’s not all the time easy. But, all the time, it’s important to analyse the games and not just to look at the ranking in the table.

“If we analyse it since the beginning of the season, we’ve had fantastic games and performances sometimes without consistency.”

Chelsea dominated possession in the first half, with Eden Hazard hitting the bar, but struggled to assert themselves after Vardy’s sixth goal of the season.

Marcos Alonso hit a post in stoppage time, but in truth Leicester were worthy winners.

“If Chelsea didn’t perform in all the game today, I think my players were responsible,” Puel said. “We came back in the second half with better quality on the ball.

“A fantastic move for the goal and I was happy for Jamie to finish and be clinical. We continued to defend like a team, with 11 players with the right mentality to keep this result.”

For yet another game, Sarri was left scratching his head at his players’ performance.

Chelsea v Leicester City – Premier League – Stamford Bridge
Eden Hazard came closest to scoring for Chelsea (Nigel French/PA)

“After the goal the reaction was for me a strange reaction, not in the right direction, not as a team, but as 11 different players.

“There was time to score, without reacting as a team shocked, as a team in mental confusion.”

Sarri cannot comprehend why the issue keeps recurring and hopes for a response on Boxing Day at Watford.

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“In the match we had a bad reaction. Now it depends on our reaction in the next three days.”

Hazard was deployed as a ‘false nine’ for a third straight game and Sarri was pleased with the tactic.

He added: “I was really very happy with the team, with the solution of Hazard like a striker. Then after the goal the position of Hazard was not important, I think.”

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