LEICESTER CITY 1 EVERTON 2
Report by Paul Weston
City fans travelled to this match with optimism after a convincing win against Newcastle. Would we win three games on the trot and kick-start our stuttering start to the season and silence the “Puel Out” clamour that always seems to be rumbling in the background?
Since the season started there have been two blindingly obvious problem areas that needed to be sorted out. These were:
Problem 1: We always start each match at funereal pace with slow deliberate sideways and backwards passing. This encourages the opposition to press our defence, we lose the ball and this encourages the opposition to score early. We are much better when we play at pace and this normally happens in the latter part of the game when we are trying to get back into the game.
Problem 2: It was a well-known fact that the Huth/Morgan defensive duo, fantastic in its prime, was past its sell by date a season ago. Simpson, a good defender, has been deemed to be ineffective as an attacking right back, and has been put into the wilderness. Ricardo was signed as a replacement, or so we thought, but cannot defend but is good breaking forward. Evans, Benkovic and Soyuncu have been signed as replacements for Morgan and back up for Maguire.
So far Evans looks no faster or better than Morgan, Benkovic has strangely been loaned to Celtic and Soyuncu has yet to play a game, apparently because he cannot communicate in English with team mates. Consequently Morgan continues to be selected as a partner for Maguire with Amartey at right back. It makes no sense at all to all the fans and is an obvious weakness for opposing teams to exploit.
Puel selected the same side as at Newcastle. It was not long before problem 1 and problem 2 occurred at the same time. Bernard wriggled his way through a weak defence, Schmeichel palmed the cross away but straight to Richarlison who volleyed home. 0-1 down after seven minutes and it was so, so predictable.
This knocked City out of their stride and the defence continued to look shaky every time Everton broke with the pace of Bernard and Richarlison troubling Morgan and Maguire. Chilwell continues to improve but Amartey, with Ricardo offering little help, did not look comfortable at right back.
Everton’s defensive duo of Zouma and Keane looked vulnerable when pressurised but sadly Iheanacho failed frequently to support Vardy in attack. Nevertheless, City gradually grew into the game and, after a great Chilwell cross which Vardy headed wide.
Vardy was put through on a trademark run behind Keane. He looked certain to score but surprisingly shot wide.
City then equalised after a scramble in their own goal mouth from an Everton corner in the 40th minute. Mendy got the ball out to Iheanacho who passed first time to Ricardo who had made up loads of ground on the left. He left the Everton team in his wake, twisted and turned the last defender and scored a great goal, even though Pickford got a hand to the ball.
The half ended 1-1 and it was impossible to predict how the match would end. A big worry was that, by half-time, Morgan and Amartey had both received deserved yellow cards. Morgan looked very vulnerable any time he was attacked and turned.
City started the second half much faster and with greater intensity. The crowd noise grew immeasurably and it looked like City could win both points. Chilwell in particular was a driving force and shot narrowly over after a mazy dribble through Everton’s defence.
Richarlison continued to worry Morgan with his pace and was knocked off the pitch with a forceful tackle. It was clear that the referee spoke to Morgan at that time with something like- “that’s your last warning Wes- next time and you will be off”. Puel should then have acted and replaced Morgan with Evans to reduce the risk of a second yellow card. He took no action and it was no surprise because in the 63rd minute Morgan stamped into the back of Richarlison who made the most of the tackle and Morgan was sent off for the second time this season. It was totally avoidable and immediately handed the advantage to Everton at a time when City were on top.
Puel replaced the completely ineffective Iheanacho with Albrighton but from that point Everton always looked the winner and scored a quite brilliant goal. Sigurdsson tricked Maddison skilfully and scored with a wonderful long shot into the top corner of Schmeichel’s goal.
Puel’s substitutions, bringing on Ghezzal and Okazak,i achieved little and only seemed to weaken City’s organisation. Everton continued to threaten City’s goal until the end of the match and so it was a surprise when, from the last corner, Amartey was so close to an equaliser with a header.
The match ended with a 2-1 defeat which was so frustrating for the City fans. No-one, except Chilwell, excelled and City’s well-known frailties contributed to their downfall. Until these problems are resolved by Puel and the team then this could be a season of under achievement and disappointment.
City: (4-2-3-1) Schmeichel, Chilwell, Morgan, Maguire, Pereira, Amartey, Mendy, Ndidi, Maddison, Iheanacho, Vardy. Subs: Evans, Albrighton, Ward, Okazaki, Iborra, Fuchs, Ghezzal
Everton: (4-5-1) Pickford, Keane, Zouma, Digne, Kenny, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Gueye, Bernard, Davies, Richarlison Subs: Schneiderlin, Stekelenburg, Tosun, Calvert-Lewin, Lookman, Holgate, Baines
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