CITY NO MATCH FOR CLASSY SPURS

CITY 0 SPURS 2

Report by Eddie Blount

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Spurs next game on Tuesday is Barcelona away; thus it was unlikely that they would be fazed by a visit to the King Power and indeed they were not. Although City were never totally out of this game they never really looked like getting anything from it. Given that City need their best players available and firing if they are to compete with the top sides the news that Vardy was out and Maguire only fit to take a place on the bench made this an easy result to predict. And Spurs achieved this without Erikssen and the mighty Kane, both only coming on as late substitutes when the match was effectively over.

In spite of the talent on view this was a strange match in terms of final outcomes. City managed a mere handful of goal attempts and Spurs for all their quality had only two attempts on goal both of which succeeded! They moved the ball well, always thinking and acting a little quicker than their City counterparts, and frequently moved into threatening positions but City generally defended better than they attacked and Schmeichel, the goals apart, barely had a shot to save.

At the other end we were frankly toothless! City’s attacking style is geared to Vardy and Iheanacho is a completely different striker and much less experienced so although we commendably kept going the prospect of our scoring, never significant, receded altogether. I lost count of the number of crosses we put in not one of which reached a City player – not that the crosser had much choice of targets! It was different when Spurs attacked as they always had the sort of numbers available that we should aspire to. In short they attacked and defended as a unit but we did not!

As the first half drew to a close it seemed likely that City would reach the interval in a position of parity but it was not to be and Son’s strike effectively determined the result of the match. Again it illustrated the gap in quality between the two sides. Son worked his way along the edge of the box, City defenders stood off, fatally, giving him space to curl a superb shot high into the corner of the net to Schmeichel’s right from all of 20 yards. Later in the game we had two not dissimilar chances, one of which was blocked, as Son’s should have been, and the other finished near row Z!

The second half followed the same pattern as the first with little to give City fans any hope of a change of fortunes. We were put out of our misery fairly early on when a second goal for Spurs meant the definitive end of the contest. This was a very poor goal to concede.

Son made progress down his left and immediately Alli moved into position at the far post – completely unmarked. He remained in that position for what seemed – and was – an age, still completely unmarked. Son stopped his forward run, sized up his options and spotted Alli. Evans, who had a decent match, glanced to his left and saw Alli but he realised that he had two players to mark and chose to leave Alli unmarked. Chilwell, the absent defender, was now at the edge of the box having made his way back from a forward position at something much less than top speed. He sensed the danger but seemed paralysed by that thought as he failed to close the gap between himself and Alli. Son’s cross was pinpoint and Alli’s uncontested header was pushed by Schmeichel into the roof of the net. Game over!

I have to put Chilwell in the dock for this goal. This gives me no pleasure at all as he was arguably City’s top performer overall but he must improve his defending. It is not easy when he is expected to bomb forward at every opportunity to be in position in the back four when the opposition counter-attack but every wing-back faces that same dilemma. In this case he was not that far advanced when Spurs attacked on the counter and needed to bust a gut to get back but didn’t. Coleman of Everton would have got back and so would some others. You cannot switch off for a moment.

Generally speaking the back four came out of this match with the most credit, with special mention for Wes Morgan, one tackle on Alli a particular moment to treasure. Ricardo also looked the part having seemingly improved his defending. Up front City had little to offer. Puel’s decision to offload both Ulloa and Slimani has left us shorthanded whilst having a bloated squad overall! It has also left us with no Plan B and no strikers who provide an aerial threat.

Finally, I do hope Maddison took note of Son’s masterclass!

City: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Morgan, Evans, Chilwell, Iborra ( Albrighton 56), Ndidi, Mendy (Okazaki 79), Gray, Iheanacho (Ghezzal 56), Maddison

Spurs: Lloris,  Aurier (Walker-Peters 77), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Sissoko, Dier, Winks, Alli, Son (Kane 74), Lucas (Erikssen 67)

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

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FOXES SNATCH POINT IN RANIERI REUNION

Fulham 1 City 1

Match Report by Colin Hall

A 74th minute strike from James Maddison earned a draw for Leicester City during a rainswept evening on the banks of the Thames.

Although the result extended the Foxes' unbeaten run in all competitions to 7 games, this was far from an impressive performance by Claude Puel's side against Fulham, the Premier League's bottom club.

Indeed, the hosts had several chances, particularly during the closing stages, to have taken the game, and their spirited display frequently belied the gap of 11 places (and 13 points) that exists between the combatants in the current league table.

When the sides took the field, it came as no surprise to hear the name of the Fulham manager, a certain Claudio Ranieri, sung far with far more volume and gusto by the sizeable visiting contingent than that of the present incumbent.

The City side, showing several changes from the line-up that saw off Watford in the previous fixture, almost made a perfect start, when Maddison sent Kelechi Iheanacho clear on the home goal. However, the out-of-sorts striker, faced with several options, could only direct a weak effort straight at home keeper Rico.

Sadly, the miss set the tone for the rest of Iheanacho's game. Although he is a player of significant potential, there remains serious doubt as to whether that potential is ever likely to be realised at this club under the present regime.

The remainder of the opening half saw the hosts create more clear-cut scoring opportunities. Mitrovic outjumped the visiting defence to head wide from a corner, then Kasper Schmeichel was forced to turn away a fierce drive from Chambers.

But the breakthrough that Fulham had threatened finally arrived three minutes from the interval, as Kamara evaded an extravagant (and not entirely necessary) sliding challenge from Caglar Söyüncü before firing a shot which passed between Schmeichel's legs on its way to the net.

City fans hoped that Puel's half-time team talk would rouse the side into a response. Instead, though, whatever rhythm or cohesion the team possessed earlier in the game seemed to disappear completely, with simple passes going astray and Schmeichel's distribution – never his strongest point – becoming ever more erratic.

A more confident side than Fulham might have pressed home their evident superiority, but fortunately for the Foxes, the home side were unable to exploit such evident disarray, though sub Cairney sent a long-range shot inches wide with the City keeper stranded.

Puel, perhaps pushed into making changes earlier than he otherwise may have done, saw them produce the desired impact almost immediately, when Shinji Okazaki, only two minutes after being introduced for Danny Simpson, crossed for Maddison to net from close range.

To their managers' credit, both teams pressed strongly for a winner in the final 15 minutes. City created their share of the chances, with Vicente Iborra heading wide, while Maddison and Demarai Gray were denied by Rico in rapid succession.

Yet it was the hosts who nearly had the last word, when, with virtually the match's final kick, Odoi beat an ill-judged offside trap only to blaze wastefully over.

The prevailing post-match opinion among the fans I spoke to (or saw online comment from) was that the result represented a point gained by the visitors rather than two dropped. City have now played each of the league's bottom three clubs in the past month and failed to beat any of them in open play.

This form does not augur well for the series of forthcoming clashes with several of the league's big guns.

However, the plus points for Puel will be that the side appeared to avoid further serious injuries and actually (for once) managed to complete an entire game without collecting a single red or yellow card! 

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Rico; Christie (Ream 84), Odoi, Mawson, Le Marchand (Bryan 77); Chambers, Seri; Kamara, Vietto (Cairney 45), R Sessegnon; Mitrovic. Subs not used: Bettinelli, Kebano, Schürrle, Anguissa.

Goal: Kamara (42) 

Leicester (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Simpson (Okazaki 72), Morgan, Söyüncü, Chilwell; Ndidi, Mendy (Iborra 72); Albrighton, Maddison, Diabate (Gray 55); Iheanacho. Subs not used: Ward, Ricardo, Fuchs, Knight.

Goal: Maddison (74)

Referee: David Coote         Attendance: 22,881

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

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City draw the sting

Leicester 2-0 Watford

 

Report by Chris Griffin

 

The events of five weeks ago haunt the stadium and surrounding area. Many fans of both clubs visited the vast display of shirts, scarves and flowers at the site of the accident. Most walked in silence, the few who spoke did so with hushed voices: all trying to absorb the enormity and finality of that fateful night.

 

 

In the ground Watford fans displayed enormous solidarity with Leicester City Football Club and fans. They unfurled a huge banner which included the badges of Leicester and Watford and the message “Thank you, Vichai, for allowing us all to dream.” It was a reminder that Leicester’s title win set a benchmark of aspiration for many clubs. Vichai’s son Top responded to the Watford fans by waiving charges for half time refreshments in the away section. 

 

After these raw moments the football arrives as an afterthought. But this win mattered to Leicester. The previous three premier league home matches had yielded just two points. This victory against a good team was a welcome boost as we enter a busy period of fixtures. It also showed Leicester can vary their tactics from possession-based to counter attack.

 

After a cagey start from both sides Watford threatened through good runs from Pererya and Holebas. At the other end Ndidi had the ball nicked off his toe as he was about to shoot following a corner. Maddison then played a beautiful through pass to launch Vardy but the striker was shepherded to safety by Mariappa.

 

Leicester took the lead in the 12th minute. Mendy gathered the ball and fed Maddison whose early through ball found Vardy running in behind the Watford defence. Goalkeeper Foster came off his line to meet Vardy and his desperate dive brought the striker down. Foster made representations of innocence but it was a nailed-on penalty. Vardy’s spot kick was very cool, driven low and hard into the right hand corner of the net with Foster diving to the left.

 

 

Leicester looked good value for the lead with Mendy and Ndidi at this point patrolling and controlling midfield. Another attack saw a good cross from Albrighton clear the head of the incoming Vardy by a fraction.

 

Watford responded well and applied some sustained pressure down Leicester’s left flank. It was from defending this pressure that Leicester extended the lead in the 23rd minute. Chilwell conceded a throw in when preventing a Watford corner. City pressed the throw well and the ball went to the hard working Gray in the Leicester box. He played a good forward ball to Maddison in the inside left channel. Maddison turned inwards and found Vardy whose superb shoulder drop left his marker both rooted to the spot and staring into space. Vardy sped away and passed to Albrighton on the right wing. Albrighton’s first time cross to the edge of the area found Maddison surrounded by two defenders. Maddison’s keepy-uppy control via his knee and boot was breathtaking and he volleyed the ball fiercely past a helpless Foster. This was a brilliant goal, reminiscent of the breakaway goals of the title winning season and one which combined both great individuality and team work.

 

 

Watford nearly hit back immediately but firm Leicester tackling saw off the threats from a Watford free kick. Success then made a good run but City dealt well with the ensuing corner. At the other end Pereira, combining with Albrighton, sent his first time shot over the bar. Watford came back and Schmeichel had to be quick to stop Hughes reaching a through ball.

 

Watford were certainly enjoying most possession. Even so, Maddison won the ball and fed Gray whose shot was deflected for a corner. Watford broke from the corner and Success closed in on goal challenged by the hard-working Mendy. Success took his shot early but blazed over the bar. Leicester were putting themselves under pressure by conceding several free kicks around their penalty area but dealt effectively with threats up to half time.

 

 

The second half continued as the first half ended. Watford had most possession, assisted by some careless Leicester passing and also some anywhere-will-do clearances by the home team’s defence. Schmeichel made a smart save after Watford gained possession having clattered Chilwell from behind. Then Pererya burst into the Leicester penalty area but shot across goal for a goal kick. That was his last contribution as he and Deulofeu made way for Deeney and Andre Gray. The latter did not have a productive half hour, missing three chances including one swing-and-a-miss and a header that he placed gently wide of the goal.

 

Meanwhile Leicester made the occasional counter-attack. Vardy did superbly well to gain a corner despite the attentions of three defenders after a solo run down the right wing. Then Ricardo Pereira won the ball and burst forward before setting Demari Gray free in the area. The young winger’s shot was fierce but rattled the post before rebounding to safety. Following a free kick for hand ball against Albrighton (and a rather harsh yellow card) Watford won a corner which Schmeichel, under pressure, did very well to palm to safety.

 

 

Watford still got behind City’s defence. M. Puel changed to three at the back, bringing on Soyuncu for Gray, and then Iheanacho came on for the excellent Vardy. Let’s hope the January transfer window will see the recruitment team bringing someone to give Jamie support.

 

Leicester nearly nicked a third when a superb Albrighton pass sent Maddison through but the alert Foster cut out the danger. Iborra came on for Evans and City reverted to a back four. Morgan made a superb block to keep away a Chalobah effort then cleared a ball heading straight to Deeney who would have had a clear shot.  Ndidi shot over after good work from Chilwell and Maddison. Leicester seemed to have drawn the hornet sting but there was one last piece of drama when Capoue was shown a red card for a challenge on Iheanacho. Leicester comfortably saw out added-on time, though Maddison did manage to pick up an unnecessary yellow card following some nonsense at a Watford throw-in.

 

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Pereira, Morgan, Evans, Chilwell, Mendy, Ndidi, Gray, Maddison, Albrighton. Subs: Soyuncu, Iheanacho, Ward, Okazaki, Iborra, Diabate, Fuchs

 

Watford: Foster, Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas, Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes, Pererya, Deulofeu, Success. Subs: Gomes, Deeney, Masina, Sema, Chalobah, Gray, Kabasele.

 

Referee:  Mr G Scott;               Attendance 31,353

 

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

 

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Ward Saves The Day

Leicester City 0 Southampton 0 (Full Time)  

Leicester City 6 Southampton 5 on penalties

Carabao Cup – 27 November 2018

Report by Tish Krokosz

After the tragic events of the helicopter crash on 27 October, this match had been rightly postponed to tonight. The loss of five lives including that of our chairman had to be properly respected and our visitors, Southampton, were quick to appreciate the feelings of the home side and acknowledge the respect that was due, and so, were prepared to accept a revised date. A lot has been written and said in the meantime and it would be interesting to see how the management, the team and the crowd would respond to this match. Claude Puel had indicated that he wanted to honour the former chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha by going all out to win a cup for him.

City’s team selection was dictated somewhat by injuries to Maguire, Ghezzal, Amartey and James and Maddison’s suspension, yet still included more fringe players than the crowd was expecting. The fans would echo Puel’s desire for some silverware at the end of this season and this cup provides an excellent opportunity to claim that prize. Southampton, likewise, did not field their strongest eleven at the start, but Hughes has the predicament of trying to break a long run of games without a win and his choice reflected desperation as well as caution.

The early impetus was all from City but without any success in front of goal. At least we did not give away a soft goal to the opposition in the early stages of the game. The visitors were playing a very high line as were City and this meant all twenty outfield players were often squeezed into a narrow thirty yard band in the middle of the pitch. Each side had shots on goal in the first half but none was dangerous and few were on target. The closest opportunity for City was at the very end of the half when Vardy, who was captain for the night, made a strong run on the left of the penalty area and saw his powerful cross bounce off a Southampton defender and trickle wide of the far post. Otherwise, it was a disappointing half without much entertainment and fans were already suggesting it would end goalless.

Where was the “blood and guts” approach to a cup match? Where was, to use Puel’s favourite words, the intensity and quality that would be needed to progress further in the competition? If anything, it was the away side that was going to show more of these approaches in the second half. Puel recognised that City were not showing enough passion or skill in going forward and brought on Okazaki and Mendy for Iheanacho and Silva after sixty minutes. Ndidi and Mendy have formed a close partnership in midfield and managed to plug some of the gaps that had been showing.

However, the south coast side were the only ones to have any clear-cut chances and golden opportunities to score throughout the second forty-five minutes. Ward had to make several good saves to keep the score at nil-nil. The woodwork saved City twice and Hughes must have been apoplectic when Obafemi missed a sitter in front of goal after Redmond’s shot had come to him off the bar.

The Southampton fans did raise a cheer when Davis put the ball in the net after 82 minutes, but there was an even louder cheer from City fans when VAR decided after a lengthy wait that the “goal” would be disallowed as a result of handball in the build up.

VAR was used again two minutes later to determine that Evans was not fouled in the Southampton penalty area, thereby denying City a chance to claim the spoils towards the end of the match. It was decided that there would be six minutes of extra time at the end of the ninety to bring some more drama. Just before the board was shown, Southampton brought on Gabbiadini with the expectation that he would be needed for penalties. However, with barely a minute of extra-time remaining he had the opportunity to seal it for the visitors with a free-kick from just outside the penalty area. His left-footed shot curled over the City wall and was heading for the top right corner until Ward leapt to his left and palmed it against the bar and to safety. Ward was City’s hero at the end of ninety minutes and this title was to be reinforced during the ensuing penalty shoot-out.

Each of the first five players for each team converted their penalties confidently with Fuchs, Albrighton, Söyüncü, Gray and Vardy scoring for City. This meant sudden death for each of the next attempts. Gabbiadini took his too casually and telegraphed the direction to Ward who dived to his right and stopped it. Who was going to take the decisive spot kick for City? It turned out to be Mendy’s responsibility. He duly thumped it passed Gunn and City were through to the next round.

Upon reflection, it was a strange game. The ninety minutes of normal play was not enthralling and it does not say much if the loudest cheers are as a result of a VAR decision to cancel a goal. The opponents in the next round are an outfit from Manchester who seem to be scoring at will and are probably a stronger unit than when we played them at the same stage last year. City’s performance against Southampton would have to be improved by miles for us to stand a chance of even reaching the opportunity of penalties. But considering the form that Ward is showing this year in this competition, if he plays in the next round, who knows?

Leicester City: Ward, Simpson, Söyüncü, Evans, Fuchs, Diabaté (Albrighton 78), Silva (Mendy 61), Ndidi, Gray, Iheanacho (Okazaki 61), Vardy. Subs not used: Jakupovic, Morgan, Ricardo Pereira, Leshabela.

Southampton: Gunn, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Stephens, Valery, Højbjerg, Lemina, Armstrong (Davis 73), Targett (Soares 61), Redmond, Obafemi (Gabbiadini 89). Subs not used: McCarthy, Hoedt, Austin, Ward-Prowse.

Referee: R. East                                Attendance: 22,150

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

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