The worst performance since the return to the Premier League?

Bournemouth 4 City 2

Report by Kate Thompson

I approached this game with quiet confidence and the team started with more intent than we have seen so far this season.  They were the better team for the first 15 minutes and should have gone ahead during this early spell. 

Not only did they fail to do so but they were made to pay for it in spades.  Ryan Fraser, who was supposed to be injured, scored two excellent breakaway goals in the 19th and 37th minutes, 

Their cause wasn’t helped by some woeful defending and the usually reliable Maguire was booked as early as the 12th minute.  He was lucky not to be sent off only 15 minutes later, and it has been suggested that he would have been if he wasn’t an England player.  His fellow centre-back joined him on a yellow card just before the break.

A soft penalty just before half-time meant that City went in 3-0 down. 

There were no changes at half-time (I would have replaced the ineffective Gray with Albrighton at this stage) but Albrighton and Iheananacho replaced Ghezzal and Gray in the 61st minute. 

Morgan, who has been a great servant to the club, was struggling with the pace of the Bournemouth front men and he received a second yellow in the 69th minute, along with a booking for Schmeichel, presumably for protesting too much.  The second yellow happened right in front of the Leicester fans and we thought he had won the ball cleanly, but sadly our opinion is worthless. 

Another simple routine saw the ball pulled back for the in-rushing Adam Smith in the 81st minute to further dampen the spirits of the Leicester faithful who were witnessing some appalling defending. 

Evans came on to replace Vardy in the 84th minute, presumably to shore up the leaky defence.  Chilwell had a reasonable game but Pereira was caught out far too often.  Vardy sadly had not been at his best but both he and Maddison worked hard for no reward; indeed both could have scored before and after the first Bournemouth goal.

To everyone’s surprise City made a game of it at the death, but it was far too late, and presumably the Bournemouth players had taken their foot off the gas, thinking it was done and dusted.  Maddison scored a penalty after Pereira was tripped in the area, in the 88th minute and only a minute later Albrighton scored with a header from Iheananacho’s cross.  However, it was too little too late, and players and fans were similarly shell-shocked.

I thought that Soyuncu might be brought in against Huddersfield next Saturday but having just watched the under-23s game I don’t think he is ready yet.  His confidence could be destroyed if Premier League strikers pounce on any mistake. 

One final point:  I was horrified to hear on Match of the Day that the Leicester bench had been made to sit in the dugout because of foul and obscene language.  This is not a good advert for the club and I, for one, was ashamed to hear it.  I hope some action will be taken against them and that we will not learn of a similar incident again.

At least the under-23s have gone back to the top of Premier League 2!

Leicester City: (4-2-3-1) Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi, Mendy; Ghezzal, Maddison, Gray; Vardy. Subs: Ward, Evans, Iheanacho, Albrighton, Amartey, Iborra, Fuchs

Bournemouth: (4-4-2) Begovic, Smith, S Cook, Ake, Rico, Brooks, Lerma, Gosling, Fraser, King, Wilson. Subs: Boruc, Ibe, Surman, L Cook, Mousset, Defoe, Francis

Referee: Craig Pawson

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

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We are Premier League – Predictably!

 

After four rounds of matches, the Premier League takes a break for the International Fixtures and all you making your predictions have had a weekend off from those torturous decisions you have to make. How many could not bring themselves to predict Leicester City would lose to Liverpool, although that was the obvious choice it goes against the grain to not back your team. So, you go for a draw and play the insurance card so in that way you have remained faithful to your team and have also safeguarded against losing points – though in reality you have, because you could have been +10 points (minimum) if you had gone with your head, instead of zero by going with your heart.

 

After a slow initial uptake in the league we sent out a few invitations, focussing on the filter that provided a list of Leicester fans in the competition, we selected some internationally based predictors, and some UK based ones. There was an amazing uptake and we ended up with 50 players in The Foxes Trust Predictor League, the maximum allowed: totally bowled over by the response.

 

From the picture above it can be seen that there are 2616 mini-leagues and that our league lies 99th in this, this is based on the best results from a limited number of players – thus mini leagues with less than 50 players can compete. The leading mini league are Seabridgers Carling Premier predictor year 4 having amassed 2670 points to the TFTPL 2155.

 

On an individual level, the current leader of TFTPL is Foxedtheoppo who, in spite of only scoring 10 points in week 4, retained their leadership of the league with 525 points. In national terms, there are 52,445 participants and Foxedtheoppo lies 210th having been as high as 8th after week 3. The leader is Scavenger with 625 points. Top rated Leicester City fan is Pere from Nigeria with 560 points.

 

As we move towards round five, some of you will be considering what will happen at Bournemouth where City have not played so well in recent seasons. Will Vardy’s return from suspension inspire City to a win? Does Puel’s passing style of play diminish Vardy’s effectiveness? Can City’s lack of pace in the centre backs deny them a clean sheet. I let you into a little secret, I have gone for a 1-1 draw – and not played my insurance card.

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Want to Take Part in the Eurofit Walking Football Programme ?

Leicester City Community Trust in partnership with Leicestershire Nutrition and Dietetic Service is set to launch its third Eurofit programme.

The aims of EuroFit is to help football fans lead a more active lifestyle, sit less and eat more healthily, and to keep these changes going FOR LIFE. 

The free programme is ran over 12 weeks delivered by coaches at the club and nutrition experts in a relaxed, comfortable and fun environment. 

EuroFit is not a bootcamp. It works within everyone’s abilities (and limitations) to provide training sessions that offer a range of activities and levels of intensity to suit everyone along with dietary advice. 

Previous groups have gone on to incorporate the lifestyle changes made into everyday life and an enthusiastic Walking Football group which began life within Eurofit has recently taken part in a charity match in aid of Diabetes UK. 

For more information contact matt.bray@lcfc.co.uk  

 

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Foxes Tamed by Table Toppers

Leicester City 1 Liverpool 2    

1 September 2018

Report by Tish Krokosz

Liverpool came to the King Power Stadium unbeaten after the first three games of the season, without having let in a goal and included the world’s most expensive goalkeeper. Schmeichel had penned a renewed contract the day before, keeping him with us for five more years. He celebrated this with an excellent save in the fourth minute when faced with a one-on-one situation against Firmino. The follow-up was missed by Salah when faced with an open goal. This match usually brought a lot of goals – surely it would not end up nil-nil this time?

Unfortunately not – seven minutes later, Liverpool pressed down the left wing with Robertson threading the ball past Pereira, whose defensive skills are being questioned too frequently. For a moment, the ball was loose and Morgan seemed to hesitate and lost the opportunity to come forward and clear it. The Liverpool defender took his chance to pass it to Mane with a lucky bounce off Maguire, and the forward took no time to ram the ball into the net with his left foot. Once again, City had started sluggishly, were ragged at the back and too hesitant.

For a while, Puel’s tactics were to send the ball long for Gray to chase, Vardy style, but this proved ineffective as Gomez and Van Dijk were able to clear any high balls and the full backs had control of the wings. However, City gradually had more possession and aggression in midfield and were pushing forward with intent. On 22 minutes, Maguire controlled a clearance from the visitors, passed the ball directly to Ghezzal, who, in turn, took one touch to pass it to Gray. His shot on goal was from an awkward angle and on target, but Alisson, despite being wrong footed, clawed it away to safety.

Once again, Maddison had a good game and showed lots of confidence for such a young player. He seems to be the first choice when taking corners and free kicks. The latter were an opportunity to put pressure on the visitors, who were playing a very high line. However, on more than one occasion, City were penalised for offside from a free kick, Maguire being the main culprit.

Although the Liverpool front three were playing as fluid a game as always, their chances on goal had been limited during the first half. As half-time approached, Salah finally showed some of his skills and cut in from the right side for an excellent shot on goal. Schmeichel was equal to it and made an equally fine save and put the ball out for a corner. This produced another corner from the opposite side after Morgan had cleared the first one. This time, Milner’s accurate kick found Firmino, who had lost his marker, Maddison, and the Liverpool forward headed the ball firmly into the net. It was somewhat unfair that City went in at half- time two goals down when they had been so positive for the last half-hour.

Considering Liverpool’s start to the season, this deficit seemed like a mammoth task to overcome. However, City started the second half positively with Ghezzal being more active. He put in a lovely ball into the box after just two minutes but there was no one in there to finish the move. This is where we missed Vardy. He has an excellent past record against Liverpool and his presence would have been far more effective than Gray’s. The red card Vardy picked up against Wolves (which I still believe was an incorrect decision) was costing us dear this afternoon. City continued to press and in the 51st minute Maddison once more showed his skills by dancing past two Liverpool defenders and creating an opening to allow himself to take a shot on goal. But Gomez had spotted the danger and blocked the goal-bound shot.

The former Norwich player was taking every opportunity to try and reduce the deficit. Two minutes after his blocked shot he pressed forward again and was only stopped by a clumsy challenge by van Dijk, which earned the Liverpool defender a yellow card. The resulting free kick went into the wall and another City chance went begging. The exasperation was even more evident a minute later when, from a short corner, Ghezzal once more whipped in the ball into the box and behind the whole of the red defence. There were at least three blue shirts that may have popped the ball into the net but somehow all managed to miss it and Alisson gathered it safely.

Soon after, Puel decided that the experiment of playing Gray as a centre forward was not working. Iheanacho came on for Albrighton and took up the forward position with Gray dropping back into the vacant slot on the left wing. Two minutes later, this move proved fruitful when the substitute challenged the Liverpool keeper after a bad back pass. Alisson had all the time in the world to clear the ball but decided to try and turn, Cruyff style, with the expectation of playing it out to a red shirt. He did not count on the grit and determination of Iheanacho, who had run a long way to challenge him and win the ball from him. A simple cross into the centre found Ghezzal, who took his time before shooting the ball into the net to give City a well-deserved goal.

Until this point it was hard to tell whether Liverpool were playing safe and trying to hang on to a two goal lead or whether City had been in control more and were proactive in their approach. I would like to think it was the latter as Klopp’s style is not to be negative but to try and score as many goals as possible even if the opposition score almost as many against you. However, despite City trying for an equaliser, the visitors, on this occasion, seemed content with their lead and the rest of the game consisted of substitutions and general game management. This was especially evident with Milner’s experience of slowing down City’s moves even though this cost him a booking. In fact, there was a string of yellow cards in the last ten minutes – it was almost as if the referee, who generally had a good game, felt he had to meet a quota of using the card.

At the beginning of the match, I suppose that City would have feared the attacking prowess of Salah, who won so many accolades last year. The fact that he was substituted by Shaqiri with twenty minutes of the match remaining shows that City had tamed him – or did he just have a bad day at the office? As we left the ground, City supporters felt that they had been robbed of a point. The visiting fans, on the other hand, went back to the north-west knowing that their team was top of the table after a mediocre showing. If City continue this approach to each game, then, surely, we will come away with better results against weaker teams.

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mendy, Ndidi, Ghezzal, Maddison (Amartey 83), Albrighton (Iheanacho 61), Gray (Okazaki 76). Subs not used: Ward, Evans, Iborra, Fuchs.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold (Matip 89), Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson (Keita 71), Milner, Salah (Shaqiri 71), Firmino, Mane. Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Lallana, Sturridge

Referee: P. Tierney                            Attendance: 32,149

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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Cod Army battered*

Leicester City 4 v 0 Fleetwood Town

Report by Stuart Dawkins

(* – with apologies for the title to all Fleetwood Town fans – I just couldn’t resist it)

The last time I paid money to see as big a mis-match as this was the Champions League away match at Porto.  In each case the visiting mangers, Claudio Ranieri and Joey Barton (and how often will you ever see those names linked in one sentence?) made wholesale changes to their teams and suffered the consequences on the pitch.

Puel had also rotated players, making eight changes from the Southampton game, compared with the eleven made by Fleetwood.  The result was that a City team made up mostly of fringe players had a chance to impress, but would they?  Moreover, it was a chance to impress against a team which required two matches and England’s first VAR-assisted goal to beat as recently as January.  So, would the City ‘squad players’ rise to the task?

The answer was a resounding ‘yes’.  Whilst the opposition provided little real threat, you can – in the words of the old cliché – only play who is in front of you, and City played this match with a good degree of confidence and ability.  They deserved to win by more than four, and it would be hard to pick out any home player who did not play at least pretty well.

By coincidence, this match marked another VAR first, with the use of specific announcements on the big screens to inform fans when an incident was being reviewed.  This is a welcome improvement and worked well during this match.

The stadium was only one-third full, and the impression that this was little more than an early season training match increased when The Birch made his usual pre-match announcements about five minutes earlier than usual.  After a wait of several minutes the players then came out and lined up for kick off, only for the referee to hold them in place for over a minute before giving a signal to start – some three minutes after 7.45.  The fans duly whistled and made hurry-up noises, in good spirits, but it was all a bit amateurish.  Maybe the cause was waiting for a signal that the VAR team in London (headed by none other than Jon Moss) was ready?  We may never know.

Once the match kicked off, City repeated the same habit as in all three Premier League matches so far: they gave the opposition a good chance to score in the first couple of minutes.  Fleetwood’s shot, from 20-yards, was not a difficult save for debutant Ward in the City goal, but nonetheless that slow start needs to be watched, it is a bad habit to get into.

What differed from the three Premier League matches, though, was that that shot on target was to be the only one recorded in the entire match by City’s opponents.  Fleetwood set up with a rigid 5-4-1 formation and stuck with it through thick and thin.  City played with a 4-4-2 which, at times, was reminiscent of the glory days of the Premier League-winning season.  Albrighton and Fuchs were taking turns to set each other up to make pinpoint crosses, Silva and Iborra completely dominated the centre of midfield, and Ghezzal did a decent Mahrez-impression by taking on defenders whenever he could and getting in some decent shots too.

In truth, City had so much time and space almost whenever they had the ball that they could pick their passes with relative ease.  The wingers and full backs on each flank pushed forward as there was nothing really to defend against.  The central defenders – Morgan in the right-hand slot and Evans in the left – had very little to do defensively, but generally got the ball forward effectively when they could.

After the first-minute scare, City quickly took over the game.  In the seventh minute, Ghezzal took a good in-swinging free kick which was just cleared over the bar.  The resulting corner was cleared to Fuchs 20-odd yards from goal and his first-time half-volley flew into the net – an early contender for shot of the season, even if not perhaps goal of the season, to make it one-nil.

It was all very comfortable for the home team, with Albrighton, Ghezzal and Okazaki particularly lively and creative.  Yet another pin-point Albrighton cross to Iheanacho was bundled away for a corner in the twentieth minute; there was a short pause as the big screen showed “VAR check in progress: penalty”, then the game continued.

Fuchs attempted another long-range effort, but this time a defender blocked it.  A while later Fuchs turned provider, crossing from inside the box for an unmarked Iborra to head home a straightforward chance.  A two-nil lead was the least City deserved, and that was almost added to before the break when a well-worked move finished with a short-range Okazaki shot that was very well saved by the Fleetwood keeper.

Iheanacho had three decent chances in the first half and was particularly unlucky when hitting the inside of the post early on after a one-on-one chance with the keeper.  He made some amends less than 15 seconds into the second half.  An Albrighton flick cleared the Fleetwood defence and an unmarked Iheanacho rounded the keeper to score a deserved goal and, hopefully, one that will have boosted his confidence at least a little.  He was replaced five minutes later by Gray in what was, presumably, a pre-planned move.  Puel does seem keen to try Gray out as a central striker although, whilst he played well in this match, his instincts do still take him to the by-line more than one might want from a Centre Forward.

I lost count of the number of chances City created in the second half, many resulting in shots on target.  It was almost completely a game of ‘Attack versus Defence’.  Morgan was replaced by debutant Benkovic around the hour mark, with the Captain’s armband going to Albrighton and Evans switching to the right-hand centre back slot.

Ghezzal had been creative and assertive throughout the match.  He got his reward in the 77th minute, receiving yet another long cross-field ball on the right wing, cutting inside and firing a curling left-footed shot into the top corner of the Fleetwood goal from 20 yards – an impressive piece of play to cap an impressive performance.  He was loudly applauded a few minutes later when he was replaced by Diabaté.  I’m not sure that a straight “replacement for Mahrez” could ever be found, but Ghezzal has looked a lively player in each of his substitute appearance to date and in this match, so here’s hoping he can build on such a good start in City colours.

There was another VAR penalty check, but otherwise the game continued in the same pattern it had throughout – although Fleetwood did force a corner in the dying minutes in a very rare attack.  Eventually, the two minutes of stoppage time passed and the final ended a convincing four-nil win.

Despite the limited opposition, every City player could be pleased with their performance.  Beating a League One team’s second-eleven is never likely to mark a career-changing milestone, but each of those appearing in a blue shirt today will not have harmed their chances of pushing into Puel’s first team, although some – notably Ward and the centre backs – were barely tested to any great extent.

It’s hard to criticise Fleetwood for prioritising the league over the Carabao Cup in their team selection.  I do hope that the 84 (or was it 86? The count by two of my family members disagreed on this point) hardy members of the Cod Army who watched the match from the Away Corner enjoyed their trip South and they have a good and rewarding season overall.

Finally, a brief mention of Jamie Vardy’s announcement today that he is retiring from the England team.  That seems a dignified and sensible decision from a player who has conducted his career in a very professional way.  It was disappointing that the new rule which means that yellow cards in the league are separate from those in the cups does not also apply to red cards, as otherwise surely Vardy could have played today against his old club and made the long trip by the away fans somewhat more memorable for them!

Leicester: Ward, Morgan, Evans, Fuchs, Ghezzal, Adrien Silva, Amartey, Albrighton, Iborra, Okazaki, Iheanacho. Subs: Gray, Maddison, Benkovic, Jakupovic, Mendy, Diabaté, Knight

Fleetwood: Jones, Jones, Sheron, Spurr, Dempsey, Bolger, Long, Maguire, Biggins, Grant, McAleny. Subs; Cairns, Holt, Eastham, Burns, Madden, Hill, Wallace

Referee:  Lee Mason                      Attendance: 10,671

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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