Marcos Alonso bagged a brace as Chelsea beat Leicester, despite Diego Costa's absence.

Blues were without their top scorer after a training ground dispute over fitness to top reports about a lucrative move to China.

But Chelsea appeared to dismiss all that when Eden Hazard set up Alonso to fire home after only six minutes.

The Spaniard added a second early in the second half when his drive from the edge of the area was deflected home.

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

Leicester, quite frankly, struggled.

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

Tunnel vision: Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte made bold statements with his selections

The weekend's big talking point, the reported spat between Costa and Antonio Conte, loomed over this game like a spectre.

The official club line is that Costa had not trained since Tuesday, owing to back injury, but it was easy to find sources suggesting there was far more to it than a spot of lumbago.

Conte took no prisoners: leaving Costa off the flight to Leicester (not train, as reported in some places).

But this offered no breakthrough for Michy Batshuayi, who remained on the bench until late in the game.

Conte was clear, here, about his concerns up-front.

Whether that means signings this month remains to be seen.

Mop top: Pedro (R) of Chelsea celebrates with David Luiz (L) and teammates after scoring his team's third goal

Two away teams

If Chelsea thought they had selection problems, Leicester were without a series of players for various reasons.

Chelsea's cagey stance was therefore expected, but Leicester's was a matter of necessity.

At times in a first half that was, to be kind, not so easy on the eye: it looked like there were two away teams out there.

Both sat back, anticipating errors from the other.

Leicester blinked first, and Marcos Alonso's rifled opener was deserved by the time it came.

Foot in: Eden Hazard of Chelsea is foiled by Wes Morgan (L) and Kasper Schmeichel (R)

Alonso played for his place here

With Nathan Ake returning from his Bournemouth loan, there was much expectation we might see him at Leicester.

He made the trip, but not the squad, and Marcos Alonso – the man talked of by many as the weak link in this Chelsea side, started in the XI.

And good job he did.

To be fair, the wing back did not come under the sort of defensive pressure which saw him come unstuck at Tottenham.

But going forward he was a revelation.

After scoring two rifled long balls, he put what would have been the best of the lot – a dropping first-time ball – just wide.

He stepped-up a grade here – and it was a great thing to witness.

Leicester leap: Marcos Alonso (L) of Chelsea and Gary Cahill (R) make it 2-0

There are few better examples of Kante's worth to a side

Described as a 'tenacious defensive midfielder' in the match programme, N'Golo Kante went through these 90 minutes with his usual unflappable efficiency.

He was not the best player on the pitch – he didn't need to be, today.

But he showed his worth in another way.

Leicester, 12 months ago, and with him in the side, were top of the table; Chelsea, without him, were rumbling around 15th.

Those tables are, literally, turned.

Kante is not the sole change to either side, but he is the most significant.

Chelsea, with him in their armoury, are a very impressive team indeed.

Blip? What blip?

After defeat and Tottenham, and with the headlines piling up regarding Costa's state of mind, there were many keen to write-off Chelsea's season.

Here they showed they are still very much in the driving seat, when it comes to this year's title race.

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