A proper pre-season

Luton Town 0 v 1 Leicester City

Match Report by Stuart Dawkins

Whilst the Asia Trophy had proved, rather unexpectedly, to be a decent competition with some entertaining matches, this was back to a proper, old-fashioned pre-season schedule for City.

Kenilworth Road is a throw-back to a different footballing century.  The Away end is entered through a row of terraced houses, the view is obscured by all manner of steel girders, the bar was not open, the catering sold out of everything but sausage rolls well before the match, and the pitch begins about 10 feet from the supporters.  One City fan asking a steward “can we sit anywhere” was greeted with the response “wherever you like mate, they’re all crap”.

The game itself provided reasonable entertainment for the 4,000+ crowd.  Luton made a match of it, despite having very little of the ball.  City, in each of the varied formations they tried, looked the better team throughout without really threatening to overwhelm the lower-league opposition.

It would be unwise to draw too many conclusions from a game with 20 City players involved, played against League Two opposition.  However, here are a few thoughts, based on what we saw:

Iborra is huge and looked classy.  Whenever he had the ball he looked to have so much time – although Luton in a friendly is clearly not the same as a Premier League match – it was a solid half of football from that newcomer.  I hope, too, that the newly-minted chant sticks too: “He came from sunny Spain to live on Saffron Lane” deserves its place amongst the City classics!

Mahrez was … Mahrez.  At times, he was a completely different class to everyone else on the pitch, and then a couple of times he would attempt the impossible and miss the productive, easy choice.  To be fair to him, he put a lot of effort in – both going forward and chasing back.  This performance, together with those in the Asia Cup, has seen him play at a level he did not reach even towards the end of last season.

Callum Elder looked very steady and confident at left back.  It was interesting to get my first ‘live’ sighting of Johnson, who came on as right back.  Again, he looked confident and assured – and huge!  He had played well for the England Under 19 team at centre back, and deserved his run out at Luton.

The standout player was Musa.  He was the only City outfield player to play for the whole 90 minutes, mostly wide on the left, but with freedom to roam depending on exactly who was on the pitch for Leicester at the time.  He still does not look confident in front of goal, but a few performances like this in ‘proper’ games would go a long way to winning over round City fans. 

He set up the only goal, which occurred five minutes from the end when a goal-less draw looked the most likely result despite City’s dominance which had included hitting the bar after 25 seconds.  Slimani played a loved through ball, Musa again chose to cut back rather than shoot, but this time the cut-back found a City player – Mahrez – whose shot from short range had too much power, despite Luton’s keeper getting a lot of hand on it.

Slimani continues to give his all, but still has not got his goal touch.

Maguire is a big, confident and cultured-looking player.  He looks a good signing, although did have just a couple of ‘John Stone’ moments when his very apparent ease on the ball led to over-complication and City losing the ball in potentially dangerous positions.

Jakupovic had nothing of note to do all match, Luton Threatened so little.  The most worrying aspect, of a largely un-worrisome evening, was that Luton did get two free headers from corners.  Neither of them came close to scoring, but it was two too many for confidence leading into a Premier League Campaign.

Of the various midfield combinations on show, that of Iborra and Ndidi looked the most impressive.

Tom Lawrence was fairly quiet, although his acknowledged eye for goal included a firm shot on target with his first meaningful touch of the ball.

The final mention should go to the Luton Town keeper, Shea.  He made a number of fine saves, almost stopped the goal, was named man of the match by the sponsors and handled with a nice, humorous touch the stick being given to him – in good humour also – by City fans standing no more than 10 feet behind him.

In two weeks’ time it will be off to the Emirates – quite a contrast to Kenilworth Road in so many ways!

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation