FSF Awards 2017 shortlists announced

Fans can now vote across 10 categories for the 2017 FSF Awards including Player of the Year, Pundit of the Year and Best Radio show to name a few.

However the Foxes Trust Board would like to congratulate Jim Donnelly on being awarded Premier League SLO of the year, he is named alongside 6 SLO’s from Football League clubs.

If you would like to cast your vote, read through the nominations and then vote via taking this link 

(more…)

bet365, odds-on draw

Stoke City 2 Leicester City 2

Report by Colin Murrant

The Stoke club historian on the big screen before the match was explaining that the 120 previous matches between the clubs had ended 40 wins apiece and 40 draws. The previous 2 encounters at the bet365 Stadium had ended 2-2, in fact Leicester had not lost at Stoke since their Premier League return four seasons ago. The pessimists might have sensed that the odds were that Stoke had to win eventually, the City optimists however felt City could take something from the game, particularly given the style of last week’s win over Everton.

Eventually the result would be the third 2-2 draw in a row between the two sides at the bet365 Stadium. The manner of the result was completely different to the last two seasons in that City led this encounter twice whereas they had previously had to come from two nil deficits. This time City were on the front foot again, far from the gloom monger’s angle on Claude Puel’s approach, and miles away from the negative approaches at recent away matches against Bournemouth and Huddersfield.

The lunchtime kick off, an early cold autumnal morning start, the infamous Stoke stadium wind with its high position and the open corners suggested an unpleasant day from a weather perspective. However, the rain eased on the journey up and we were greeted with sunshine; the free scarves from the club however were nonetheless a welcome gift to mitigate the cold.

Being Stokes’ remembrance match, the usual respect was given to the armed forces. The occasion was complete with piper and the carrying out of ‘The Somme Ball’; a ball used in a football match during the first World War: not the well reported match v the Germans, but nonetheless a poignant reminder how the love of the beautiful game is steeped in history. Apparently, there were many died when soldiers went into no-man’s land to retrieve stray balls.

The match itself was a great advertisement for the Premier League with goals and great saves plentiful, the match played in great spirit with no bad tackles nor yellow cards needed.

The mid first half substitution of referee when Madley was replaced by Moss, brought back memories that it was at Stoke last year when Vardy was sent off, and that his only other previous sending off was by Jon Moss at the King Power in that infamous match against WHU.

City started with Okazaki replacing the injured Chilwell, with Mahrez taking back the wider role.

After an even start, City gradually took control of the game and, after a series of short corners, Mahrez went long and Maguire headed back across goals where Iborra fired into the net with Butland getting a hand to the ball but not being able to stop it as it flew upwards into the net.

Okazaki had two chances, one the ball just beating his outstretched leg, another header brilliantly saved by Butland. Iborra also headed just over when he should have done better.

Then, against the run of play, Stoke equalised. A poor defensive goal for City with Fuchs caught in between two Stoke players, the decisive moment came when Maguire got sucked into midfield following the forward player and the gap that materialised was ruthlessly exploited as Stoke fed the ball through to Shaqiri who beat Schmeichel off the far post. Half Time 1-1.

The game was more even now and the next major action was on 59 minutes when a Shawcross header was saved low down by Schmeichel who emphatically pushed the ball away from danger. One minute later City were ahead, Ndidi won the ball through a gymnastic type leap, the ball went wide to Mahrez in space, Pieters tried to recover but Mahrez got away from him with guile and touch and, cutting in from the right, fired left footed through a host of players into the net.

Stoke brought on Crouch, a move that was to be significant, as significant as the injury to Iborra that had seen him replaced by Andy King. The home team won a corner, Crouch started from a penalty spot position, Stoke players blocked Maguire’s run, Crouch went near post into the area usually patrolled by the tall Iborra. The danger spotted late, Fuchs and King tried to stop Crouch getting to the header but alas in vain, 2-2.

City had further chances through Vardy and Iheanacho (the latter scoring but clearly offside), although it was Schmeichel who came to City’s rescue in the fifth minute of injury time with another splendid save. With seconds to go Stoke won a corner on City’s right from, the Foxes’ fans feared the worst, inevitably Crouch won the header only to be denied by the Schmeichel.

Three Good

Gray continues to improve, his transformation from my last report at Bournemouth is staggering, he now uses his left foot more as well as his more favoured right. He also looks up more and appreciates the positions of his fellow players, his decision making seems better. He is setting new standards for himself which he should strive to maintain.

Vardy and Mahrez are looking good again, Vardy impressed me a lot yesterday with his selfless running and use of the ball. Again, different to Bournemouth he had willing helpers as he was not so isolated. Mahrez is brilliant at times but elements of his game will always frustrate.

Ndidi with his energy, Iborra with his class and control of the game, have added a solidity and security to midfield we have been missing.

Two Bad

Defence is not as organised as it should be, Maguire for all his positive attributes makes occasional bad decisions. He will learn and I like him a lot. I think it is a pity that Huth is not alongside him to guide him, that is not taking anything away from Morgan’s performance just that Huth in my opinion is the better organiser. On both goals conceded there was an element of lack of understanding with Fuchs.

Albrighton, came on with 10 minutes to go and I cannot remember him getting any touches. At the end he seemed to sulk off alone although he did clap the City fans. Interesting to see how Puel uses him. At the moment it appears Demari is benefitting from, and Marc suffering from the Puel reign, early days!

All in all, a good performance that promises a lot that we are on the way up again, on the balance of things we could have and should have edged this. But we know the odds were on a draw; the odds of us playing Stoke again next season at the bet365 are shortening as both teams move towards mid-table, as no doubt are the odds on a 2-2 result.

Stoke: Butland, Zouma, Shawcross, Wimmer, Diouf (Berahino,86), Fletcher, Allen, Pieters, Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting, Ramadan (Crouch,69). Unused Subs: Grant, Jese, Afellay, Martins Indi, Adam.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Iborra (King,66), Ndidi, Mahrez, Gray (Albrighton,80), Okazaki (Iheanacho,58), Vardy.  Unused Subs: Hamer, Dragovic, Amartey, Slimani.

Referee: B Madley (Yorks). Sub 24: J Moss (W Yorks)      Att: 29,602

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

(more…)

A man with a plan? Trick and treating by the new gaffer

Leicester City 2 v 0 Everton

Report by Stuart Dawkins

When Sky picked this match for television, I suspect they were merely ticking off their quota of matches for these two relatively unfashionable clubs.  They could not have anticipated one brand-new manager and one manager-less team, but that is what they got. 

It was the traditional Remembrance Day fixture, and the use of the clap banners (together with plastic sheet for the away fans) worked well to produce a poppy-based backdrop to a moving rendition of the Last Post before kick-off.

Puel started with a trick up his sleeve: his first game in charge saw an imaginatively-chosen City line-up.  Mahrez took the ‘number 10’ spot, with the youth of Gray and Chilwell chosen to provide pace and width.  It looked like a side chosen to play against slow opposition, and for the majority of the first half, the plan worked a treat. 

City players got behind the Everton defence a handful of times in the first quarter hour.  City’s midfield dominated Everton’s, with Ndidi making a deep-lying Rooney look ordinary on numerous occasions.  What was noticeable was that the flair players – Mahrez, Gray and Chilwell – were using an intelligent combination of running and passing.  Too often this season the passing element has been absent.

City should have taken the lead in the ninth minute, when Chilwell skied a good opportunity.  The deserved breakthrough did come around ten minutes later.  It was a very good goal; Puel’s trick-and-treat plan personified.  Gray took possession on the edge of his own box.  He beat three players, outsprinting the Everton midfield with ease, then released Mahrez.  The rest was predictable for a City team playing well: Mahrez found the by-line and cut the ball across the box for Vardy to sweep the ball in.  The move took seconds to cover 100 yards, and was no more than Leicester deserved.

The number of times City players were beating their Everton counter-parts for speed and power was almost embarrassing.  Ten minutes later, that dominance led to a second goal.    Gray found himself on the left wing.  His low cross did not reach Vardy, but Everton defender Kenny hooked the ball into his own net.

It looked as though Leicester would get a hatful.  For the first 30 minutes Everton were as poor as any Premier League side I have seen.  To their credit, they improved towards the end of the half, but only to the tune of a succession of long distance shots and corners.  Fuchs was, however, lucky that his challenge from behind in the box did not result in a penalty, but other than that there was no substantial threat from the visitors.

Caretaker-manager Unsworth made two substitutions at the interval, and the second half was more of a contest.  City’s players seemed slower: spending too much time on the ball, in contrast to the first half when passing and movement had been slicker.  It was the City defence that caught the eye now, with Morgan giving his best performance for a while, clearing up several Everton moves that had the potential to menace the City goal.

Puel brought on, in turn, Okazaki, Albrighton and Iheanacho for Mahrez, Chilwell and Vardy.  Unsworth brought on the £50m Sigurdsson for Rooney.  City held on and Everton barely registered a shot on goal. 

It was a good home performance and a deserved win.  The way that Gray and Mahrez swapped roles throughout the game was interesting, and it was arguably Gray’s best game in a City shirt.  Iborra continues to improve.  Against today’s opposition he looked completely relaxed and in control: my girlfriend suggested that more performances like this might persuade the Club Shop to sell an Iborra-branded smoking jacket for Christmas (I’d probably buy one).  Ndidi was solid.  Chilwell had a decent game, although not as eye-catching as he can be.

Everton are a team in trouble.  Even during the second half, when they had a lot of possession and attacking play, they did not look like scoring.  The City faithful happily sang “all that money and you’re going down”, and unless a new manager makes significant changes for the visitors, that may well be an accurate prediction.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Gray, Ndidi, Iborra, Chilwell, Mahrez, Vardy. Subs:  Iheanacho, King, Albrighton, Hamer, Dragovic, Slimani, Okazaki

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Jagielka, Williams, Baines, Lennon, Davies, Gueye, Mirallas, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin. Subs:  Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Niasse, Holgate, Lookman, Robles, Baningime

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

(more…)

WHO NEEDS A MANAGER?

LEICESTER CITY 3 LEEDS UNITED 1

Match Report by Paul Weston

After a typically crazy week in the life of a Leicester City supporter I approached the Cup game against Leeds with slightly less pessimism than of late. Whilst I had been supportive of Craig Shakespeare there is no doubt that our performance against a limited West Brom side was very poor and it was difficult to see how we could recover our mojo with so many players playing below par. It seems like our owners had the same feeling and poor Craig Shakespeare was relieved of his duties, never to find out if the elusive Mr Silva would have solved his midfield problems in January.

The Swansea away win under Michael Appleton’s leadership, and more importantly the manner in which we won, was a pleasant surprise and typical City. Perhaps we should rotate Shakespeare and Appleton as manager and assistant throughout the season because we always seem to win after sacking the manager!

Leeds United arrived after a good away win at the weekend, with a growing reputation and a great away following as usual. However, Leeds had a tough match ahead against Sheffield United so, like City, chose to field some new faces. Appleton retained just Maguire, Iborra and Albrighton from the side that beat Swansea.

The first half started in dreary fashion. What is the point of keeping possession if it is always passing side to side and backwards? Fans were getting quite frustrated and City hardly were creating any chances. Only the ever-eager Albrighton seemed capable of running at pace and trying to make things happen. Leeds passed the ball well and looked confident and scored in the 26th minute when City failed to close down in the middle and Hernadez let loose a shot that went in just under the bar. I may be too critical but I thought Hamer was caught by surprise and should have tipped it over.

Thankfully City drew level a few minutes later. Slimani chased onto a good through ball from Albrighton and the ball came out to Iheanacho with a chance of a right foot shot with the goal gaping. He chose instead to make it complicated, beat a player, thread the ball onto his left foot and shoot through the eye of a needle past two players and the goalie into the net. It was a welcome first goal and his confidence grew from that point.

The rest of the first half was fairly even with few chances except for a long shot from the enigmatic Gray that rebounded off the bar. It seemed even then like extra time and penalties might be looming.

However, City started the second half with much more purpose and Chilwell and Amartey pushed forward more with great purpose. I was really impressed with Amartey who, on this form, would press Simpson for the right back slot. City started to pass quicker and Albrighton teed up an absolute sitter for Slimani which he managed to miss from about two yards. King then missed a good chance when set up by Slimani.

City’s second goal was so simple and effective. Iborra, who got better as the game progressed, slid the ball through the defence to Iheanacho on the left who crossed well and this time Slimani slid in and slammed the ball into the net. It was a well-executed goal and showed the benefit of moving the ball at pace, which we had not done in the first half.

Appleton then chose to bring on Mahrez for Albrighton with about 15 minutes to go and as the game opened up it became clear that confidence was returning to Riyad. He seemed to have a free role and Leeds were failing to control him and looked devoid of ideas to get back into the match. In fact they had no shots in the second half at all.

Then, in the 88th minute, Mahrez scored a goal that was worth the admission money in itself. He picked up the ball on the half way line, beat a player, then at pace beat two players close to the penalty area and then, with his left foot of course, shot low into the goal. It was a superb goal and a reminder of his mercurial talent. City saw out the game, also bringing on Vardy late, to what looks like a comfortable 3-1 win, but only after a second half transformation. Much credit should go to Appleton who managed this victory.

City now pass into the hat for the quarter finals and a chance of silverware. What did we learn from the match? Dragovic and Maguire are good on the ball, but Maguire sometimes loses the ball in dangerous positions. Amartey is very fast going forward and defending. Chilwell is better at going forward than defence. Hamer did not have too much to do.

Iborra started to look better than in the West Brom match but that might be because his midfield opponents were not so fast in comparison. Gray still, for me, does not know when to pass or shoot and also drifts inside too much. Slimani worked his socks off but his flat footed running style still does not look like that of an athlete costing £29 million. Iheanacho, despite his goal and assist, still needs to show a surer touch on the ball and then we might see how he might progress into the side and support Vardy.

At the time of writing the next City manager is yet to be confirmed. Amidst all the rumours the underwhelming name of Claude Puel seems to be the strongest, with Michael Appleton’s role undecided. However, I seem to remember my reaction was similar when Ranieri was appointed and just look what happened!

Leicester: Hamer, Amartey, Maguire, Dragović, Chilwell, Iborra, King (c), Albrighton, Gray, Iheanacho, Slimani. Subs: Vardy, Mahrez, Fuchs, Ndidi, Jakupovic, Ulloa, Musa

Leeds: Wiedwald, Anita, Jansson, Shaughnessy, Borthwick-Jackson, Phillips, Klich, Roofe, Hernandez, Cibicki, Grot. Subs: Lonergan, Ayling, Pennington, Vieira, Sacko, Alioski, Lasogga

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

(more…)

Storm Brian and the first away win

Swansea 1 City 2

Report by Kate Thompson

It was a difficult journey for City fans because of problems caused by storm Brian; some were still coming in after half-time, by which time City were 2-0 up.

The only change from Monday’s game was Okazaki for Ineacho, a change that most fans would applaud after the latter’s poor performance against West Brom. Appleton, as caretaker manager, reverted to the 4-4-2 favoured by Leicester, despite the promising signs from the change to three at the back introduced by Shakespeare in his last match.  I am one of the fans who is unhappy with Craig’s sacking:  I believe he should have been given more time, but sadly if a team loses or draws a few matches, the writing is on the wall.  Shakespeare himself said that every Premier League manager is only four matches away from the sack.

What was different was the way City started the game, at the speed and urgency which we enjoyed in the title-winning season.  The players gave Swansea no time and, but for Fabianski, would have been out of sight before half-time. 

What was especially pleasing were the signs that Mahrez is getting back to the player he was two seasons ago and he was involved in both goals.  The City fans thought he had scored the first one, as it was the other end from where we were sitting, but watching it later we realised that it was an own goal.  It was Riyad’s pass however, that led to this result. 

For both goals, the Swansea players were complaining but it was shown that the referee, Michael Oliver, and his two assistants got it spot on both times.  The whole ball did not go out of play before Riyad’s cross for the first goal and Albrighton’s pass found the same player just onside, before a delightful pass for Okazaki to score an easy goal.

Swansea showed little signs of getting anything out of the game and when City scored again just after half-time, it looked more a case of how many they would score.  When Mawson scored a good goal in the 56th minute, the nerves started to kick in again, but fortunately there were no further goals from Swansea. 

Many fans thought they had equalised midway through the second half, but the ball found the side netting instead.  City should have had a third goal when Mahrez played in Vardy but yet again Fabianski made an excellent save from our main man. 

All the players had a solid game and deserved the win.  Most people’s man of the match was Iborra; he seemed to have time to make the perfect pass and has clearly come to terms with the different style of the English game.  This also meant that Ndidi had a better game than recently.  Andy King came on for Okazaki in the 68th minute and had a good cameo appearance, playing higher up than he has done recently.  The other substitute was Gray for Mahrez in the 87th minute.

For once, there were no weak links in the team and every player did well.  Long may it last!

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

(more…)