GUNNERS POWER PAST SECOND-STRING CITY

City 0 Arsenal 2

Report by Colin Hall

Leicester City’s involvement in the 2020-21 Carabao Cup lasted for just one match, as a Christian Fuchs own goal and a late strike by Eddie Nketiah saw visitors Arsenal claim a 2-0 victory.

Despite the absence of FOURTEEN members of the first-team squad for various reasons, the makeshift Foxes line-up competed well for most of the game, but were ultimately forced to succumb to sharper and hungrier opponents.

With the focus firmly on the weekend’s challenging league clash away to Manchester City, Brendan Rodgers changed his entire starting eleven from the team that had won the season’s first-team games.

Academy product Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was given a full debut in midfield, while defender Daniel Amartey started his first competitive first-team match since his serious injury on THAT fateful evening in October 2018.

Meanwhile, hopes that Gunners manager Mikel Arteta would view the tie, as some of his predecessors may have done, as an opportunity to blood a host of young players, proved unfounded.

Although his side was some way short of full-strength, it was still led by a Champions League winner and featured several other stars from last season’s successful FA Cup run.

Both sides signalled their attacking instincts early on, with Kelechi Iheanacho firing narrowly wide from long range and Danny Ward forced to turn a drive from Reiss Nelson onto the bar.

The high tempo continued for the rest of the half, with Arsenal having loud claims for a penalty refused following a clash between Amartey and Bukary Saka.

However, it was City who came closest to breaking the deadlock when James Maddison, finally asserting himself after a low-key start, produced an exquisite chip which left Bernd Leno stranded, but rebounded from the far post.

After the interval, with the game now being played in a heavy downpour, the England midfielder bore down on the Arsenal goal again, only to send his effort wastefully high and wide,

This incident provided the impetus for the visitors to step up their pace, with Pepe proving a particular threat to the City defence.

His efforts soon brought due reward, albeit somewhat fortuitously. After his close-range attempts were blocked by Ward and the woodwork, the ball eventually found the net via a ricochet from Fuchs, who was unable to evade its path.

It was some time before City were able to recover from this blow, and only the emergence of Perez and Praet from the bench, to replace Dewsbury-Hall and the tiring Maddison, rekindled any attacking threats.

But the Spaniard, currently enduring an eight-month goal drought, spurned a glorious opportunity to put City level, heading wide from just five yards after an excellent free-kick by Marc Albrighton.

Instead, the Gunners were able to add extra gloss to the scoreline in the closing stages, as Nketiah exploited a tiring City defence to net from point-blank range and thus partially banish memories of his game-turning dismissal in last season’s league clash.

Although cup exits are not pleasant (and nor should they ever be), this one is unlikely to be excessively bemoaned among the City fanbase. As we discovered last season, this squad is not capable of coping with the league’s two top teams in quick succession, especially after the post-match revelation that Wilfred Ndidi could be out of action for the rest of the year with an injury sustained in the Burnley game.

The ability of the side to compete on two fronts in his absence may hold the key to the outcome of our whole season. 

City (3-4-2-1): Ward; Amartey, Morgan, Fuchs; Albrighton, Choudhury, Dewsbury-Hall (Perez 76), Thomas; Maddison (Praet 72), Gray; Iheanacho. Subs not used: Jakupovic, Justin, Knight, Tielemans, Barnes.

Arsenal (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, David Luiz, Kolasinac; Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Willock (Ceballos 78), Saka (Bellerin 87); Pepe, Nketiah, Nelson (Willian 72). Subs not used: Runarsson, Saliba, Xhaka, Lacazette.

Goals: Fuchs (og) 57, Nketiah 90.

Booking: Elneny. 

Referee: Peter Bankes

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

CITY GO TOP AS CLASS PREVAILS AGAINST BATTLING BURNLEY

LEICESTER 4 BURNLEY 2

Report by Eddie Blount

For the first time since the miracle season of 2015-16 City sit proudly at the top of the Premiership table. With Man City away coming up next we should probably make the most of it! Few of us would have predicted six points out of six and seven goals to boot given that we were missing three key players and the attendant problems in central defence and defensive midfield that caused.

Strangely Burnley were also missing three of their best players including both centre backs but being Burnley under Sean Dyche there was no doubt we would be in for a battle and so it turned out. This was a stereotypical boxer v fighter contest with City buzzing around with intricate passing sequences based on a possession game whilst Burnley were all bustle and muscle.

In fact the visitors made the better start as City took ages to get out of first gear as Burnley’s pressing game made it difficult for us to manage any significant progress. So it came as no surprise when they took the lead when a deep left wing cross to the far post found Wood up against Justin. The ball was not cleanly won by either man finally hitting Wood’s upper arm before a blatant shove on Justin removed him from the scene allowing Wood to volley past Schmeichel into the bottom corner of his net.

Last season the goal would have been VAR-ed but rule changes allowed it to stand though why VAR didn’t pick up the shove I cannot say. Wood took it well but Justin should have been stronger and you could make a case for Soyuncu swopping with Justin as Wood had been signalling for the cross several seconds before it finally came.

City reacted well to going behind and ten minutes later we were level. Barnes found Vardy with a lovely through ball. The striker pulled both central defenders across the goal before giving a short pass to the excellent Castagne who cleverly laid it into the path of the on-rushing Barnes who in turn slotted the ball without fuss into Pope’s right corner.

City were on top for the rest of the half winning numerous corners which did nothing other than reveal our inadequacies at set pieces. Burnley were bigger and more physical and knew it. We have too many butterflies and not enough wasps. As well as lacking some physicality we are weak in the air for a side with top six ambitions and better sides than Burnley will make us pay for this.

On 40 minutes Burnley suffered another injury blow when playmaker Brady went off with what seemed a rib injury. However such is their spirit they reacted like a limb-depleted Peperami and pressed on as if it mattered not a jot! The half closed with A Tielemans shot from outside the box which was easily dealt with by Pope, touted by many to be England’s next keeper.

Although he was to concede four goals in this match there was no evidence that this will not come to pass. At half time City no doubt took consolation in the fact that last season we went a goal down to Burnley but finished up 2-1 winners. I imagine Rogers’ interval advice to his team was more of the same and chances will come

The second half was only five minutes old when City took the lead with the sort of luck the fates usually reserve for teams they wish to favour. The opportunity came from a magnificent slide-rule through ball by Tielemans which found the over-lapping Castagne whose low cross deflected wickedly off defender Pieters and left Pope flat-footed as it entered the net unopposed.

The match continued to provide opportunities for both sides, Wood spurning a very good chance with a feeble shot straight at Schmeichel and Praet shooting over when set up by Castagne.

The match seemed settled after 61 minutes when a good run by Castagne and clever dribbling by Perez resulted in the latter setting up Justin for a simple finish. This was a reward for the full-back’s good play in every area apart from defensive marking, a rather important reservation. At this point Maddison came on for Perez resuming his injury rehab.

Both sides continued to create chances, Rodriguez shooting over from close in and Praet at the other end had his close range shot blocked. Burnley were far from out of it and indeed they actually had more shots overall than City.

It came as no surprise when they scored again with almost a carbon copy of their first goal. A left side free kick flashed across City’s goal and was headed home by debutant centre-back Dunne. This was another bad goal to concede. We had men back but Dunne got in between Soyuncu and Justin and found the net with a stooping header. The impression was that he wanted it more.

This led to an anxious few minutes but nerves were settled when Praet scored on 78 minutes with a super strike from the edge oof the box which gave Pope no chance. Barnes set up the chance and a dummy run by Castagne created the time and space. Great goal!

Typical of Burnley they responded strongly and a free kick in a dangerous position went just over Schmeichel’s bar, followed immediately by a great block by Soyuncu to deny Wood who shortly afterwards hit the post after some very sloppy defending.

The final whistle was as much a relief to City as for their opponents who showed exactly the sort of spirit you hope we will show in similar circumstances. My Man of the Match was fullback Castagne by a whisker from Harvey Barnes

City: Schmeichel, Castagne, Ndidi, Soyuncu, Justin, Mendy, Praet (Albrighton 83), Tielemans, Perez (Maddison62), Barnes (Morgan 90), Vardy

Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Long, Dunne, Taylor, Brady (Pieters 40), Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil, Rodriguez (Vydra 70), Wood

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

Waffles in the sun as Belgians set up victory

West Brom 0 City 3

No fans to see this view (photo taken in 2018), but still a happy hunting ground

Report by Graham Tracey

After a low key first half, a debut goal by Timothy Castagne opened the floodgates for a very comfortable victory to keep up our great record at The Hawthorns. With so many reasons to expect a hangover – last season’s collapse, the lack of transfer activity, our makeshift defence – drawing a line under the post-lockdown mini-league was crucial and we did it in emphatic style.

The only caveat is that WBA look sure bets for relegation so anything less than a win would have been points dropped – I don’t subscribe to the theory that it is all about performances at the start of the season and all about results at the end of the season.

Looking good in maroon (unlike the tacky shirts sported by Rodgers and subs), our line-up was largely as anticipated given our available resources, with Ndidi moving to central defence. Much as I enjoy players moving position as a throwback to Walshy, Elliot and Marshall in the carefree 90s, this must have felt like a kick in the teeth for our younger players like Johnson, Knight and Hughes who must think they will never be trusted with a chance.

Mendy took over shielding duties, with Justin moving to left back so that Castagne could play right back. For me, the surprise was to prefer Perez over Albrighton or Gray, but presumably he had impressed in pre-season.

The first quarter (thankfully no longer marked by a drinks break) was worrying, with familiar failings. Vardy was left isolated, Perez struggled to get involved, and our initially cumbersome midfield were being out-muscled by Livermore. Luckily, WBA looked fairly toothless, with only Diangana (controversially sold by West Ham) looking dangerous. Ndidi was not put under much pressure in his temporary role and was pleasingly quick to hoof clear when required. The two moments of danger came fairly early when Justin had to take a yellow for scything down an opponent breaking through just outside the box, and Schmeichel’s only save, with his legs shortly before the break.

We started to flow towards the half hour, with Mendy shuttling the ball quickly and Praet and Tielemans pressing further forward. Three chances came in quick succession to Barnes, with the keeper parrying the two on target comfortably. Whether Harvey can improve his finishing is for me one of the key metrics that will determine how well we do this season.

Despite this improvement, it was a game I felt we could struggle to come back in if we fell behind, so it was a huge relief when we went ahead on 54 minutes. Praet was played in on the left goal-line, and when his chipped cross was powerfully headed home it was a terrific surprise to realise it was our new right back who had committed to getting forward so aggressively.

The Baggies’ heads seemed to go down in the heat after that, and we were not flattered by two penalties that were put to bed. Barnes broke through on the left, and though his shot was saved, the ref had spotted that Vardy was pulled down lest he tap in a cross. He got up to find the bottom left corner, and then after Justin was fouled clumsily, Jamie went to the same side to give us confidence that this could be another 20 goal season.

In further good news, Madders came off the bench and looked in full fitness. Gutting though it is not to be able to be there, our fans could choose to toast the Belgian combination with chips and mayo, waffles and maybe some Leffe in their gardens for tea.

With our fairly kind opening run of fixtures, hopefully this will be the spark to set us on a good run to put June and July behind us, and set us in good stead ahead of some new faces and the Europa League fixtures.

FOXES: Schmeichel 6, Castagne 8, Justin 6, Ndidi 7, Soyuncu 6, Mendy 7, Barnes 7, Praet 7 (Maddison 7), Tielemans 6, Perez 5 (Albrighton 6), Vardy 8

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

Join the Foxes Trust Prediction League 20-21

We are now launching our 2020/21 Prediction League competition which is open to all LCFC fans.

‘I know the score’ is not running for season 2020/21 so we have identified the Superbru game as the closest alternative, where players still forecast the results of every Premier League game, but with a different scoring system to previous years

Predictor score input and scoring system

Take the link below to register with Superbru. Select Log In and then Create Account options. The individual leagues are called pools, please look for pool ‘Foxes Trust’, we then get an email from Superbru to accept your entry.

Some hints, when entering your profile page, you may want to review the email preferences and privacy tabs and opt in/out of selected preferences. as appropriate.

It is also worth noting that your name is available for all to see by clicking on your username in the pool. Thus, if you do not want your full name to show we suggest just use just your initial for surname: your email address is not shown.

As before, if you wish to participate in entering for the Foxes Trust prize for the winner of the pool, you must send your email address and player name to colin.murrant@foxestrust.com in order that we can contact the winner

Good Luck

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