Déjà vu

LCFC 1 v 1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Report by Stuart Dawkins

So soon after that insane last 80 seconds against Spurs (Spurs of all people!) the mood amongst the fans before this match was wary, if not worried.  Brighton have been a good team for a couple of years and if they could learn to score as many goals as their play merits, they could be very good indeed.  This was not going to be an easy game, but it ought to be a lively one.

Given City’s list of absences, the team was probably what most would have picked, with a back four and a place at right-back for Justin.  Ghana’s disappointing performance in the Africa Cup of Nations meant a welcome return for Amartey – who has gone from occasional cover to key defender due to City’s injury list.  One minor gripe: why has the scoreboard and announcer stopped naming Leicester’s substitutes in the pre kick-off announcements? 

Leicester started well, which calmed the nerves somewhat.  It was a lively first half, and one which City had much the better of.  Justin played a big role, getting forwards a lot – something that has been missing from the full backs since Pereira’s injury. 

Lookman was looking lively, although he was guilty of squandering the best chance of the half when a Maddison through-ball left him one-on-one with Sánchez, but the big ‘keeper saved.

It was encouraging that Leicester were looking sharper and stronger in 50:50 challenges, winning more than their fair share.  The biggest concern against Spurs wasn’t the way it ended – although that was concerning – but the way that the Spurs midfield had simply been stronger than City for the entire match.  A first half in which City had a dozen shots on goal, three times their opponents was both a fair reflection of the game and also a positive step by a team in need of a stabilising performance.

This time, it was Leicester’s turn to score a quick goal from the kick-off.  Maddison made progress, a couple of chances were blocked in the Brighton box and Daka poked in the rebound.  Daka is looking more and more a Vardy-alike; even in games where he has little of the ball, he still works hard and his ratio of goals to chances is good.

Surely now, that would steady any doubts in the City camp?  Keep doing what they were doing, and they could get a result here?  But, no.  As so many times this season, City looked a different team once they had the lead.  They played deeper, they were hesitant, they lost the 50:50 balls.  This always felt like it was going to be a transitional season for Leicester after half-a-dozen years of punching well above their weight.  Given the significant list of injuries – particularly to defenders – making progress this year was not going to be easy, but the number of times the team have deteriorated when in the lead is getting quite worrying.  Even a two-goal advantage is leaving fans edgy, and a one-goal lead has many of them permanently on their edge of the seat. 

Brighton pretty much took control of the game.  The shots-on-goal stats were reversed from the first half, and if Brighton had a convincing and regular goal scorer, City would have been in trouble.  Brighton had brought on the speedy Lamptey and the ever-reliable (against Leicester, anyway) Welbeck in search of an equaliser.  Rodgers replaced Barnes with Albrighton after about 70 minutes, moving Justin into a reshaped back three.  Even before that change, City were playing too deeply, after it there was very little forward threat at all from the home team. 

Eventually, the amount of possession in Leicester’s box did lead to the equaliser: almost inevitably a right-wing cross for a straightforward Welbeck header in the 82nd minute.  The Brighton players rushed the ball back to the half-way line and played out the rest of the match as if they not only wanted to win it, but thought they could.  A piece of Schmeichel magic in the 87th minute meant that they did not, and City held on for the point.

A point against Brighton is not that bad a result – given City’s injury and missing list (etc, etc) – but the worrying thing is the regularity with which they are retreating into their shell when ahead.  The team are capable of, and still are, creating and scoring great goals.  They are just going through a long phase of appearing as if they have forgotten how to win games regularly.  It may be fatigue (the limited number of players available must have a toll), it may be tactics, it may just be one of those things, but it is costing the team results.

I’m pretty sure they will still finish comfortably in the League, and who knows, the Europa Conference League may provide a route into the Europa Cup next season.  But let’s hope that this current sense of déjà vu can change.

There are positives.  Justin played well.  The back-line was pretty solid under pressure.  The recent re-shaping of the defence for corner kicks seems (touch wood) to have resolved that particular weakness.  Let’s hope the winter break, players coming back from injury and Africa and the stimulus of a cup tie against Forest can break the team out of this soon!

Leicester City

Schmeichel, Justin, Amartey, Söyüncü, Thomas, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall, Lookman, Maddison, Barnes, Daka

Substitutes

Albrighton, Ward, Pérez, Choudhury, Vestergaard, Daley-Campbell, Soumaré, McAteer, Brunt

Brighton & Hove Albion

Sánchez, Veltman, Webster, Burn, Cucurella, Alzate, Groß, Mac Allister, Moder, Trossard, Maupay

Substitutes

Lamptey, Dunk, Lallana, Scherpen, Welbeck, March, Caicedo, Roberts, Leonard

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

Fan reps meet referees’ body – January 2022

Supporter representatives from top-flight clubs met with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) this month to discuss ongoing issues around the implementation of VAR in English football.

The meeting took place under the auspices of the Football Supporters’ Association on the 11th January 2022 and was attended by senior PGMOL officials and members of the FSA’s VAR Working Group, including Foxes Trust board member Steve Moulds

The VAR Working Group is made up of fan representatives from Premier League clubs drawn from our network of democratically structured trusts and supporter groups.

Both parties are committed to ongoing dialogue and the date of the next meeting will be announced in due course.

Read the minutes from that meeting here…

NIGHTMARE AT THE KING POWER STADIUM

LEICESTER CITY 2 SPURS 3

Match Report by Paul Weston

I expect I was not the only City fan who woke up early on the morning after the match. I had this nightmare that, in just two minutes at the end of the match, City managed to throw away three points by allowing Spurs to score twice in two brainless minutes of football. Well, folks, it really did take place and I still cannot quite believe it happened.

City welcomed back a few injured players for this match, the most welcome was seeing James Justin on the substitutes bench for the first time in about a year. However, our substantial injury list continued and, even though Son was missing from the Spurs line-up, I was not optimistic for a good result as our midfield seemed weak compared to Spurs.

Spurs dominated possession early on with a spate of corners. Our new tactics of man marking somehow seemed to work, although our defence still looked edgy, as was the crowd, every time there was a corner. It was not long before Kane hit the bar from a corner and then, from yet another swift break, Kane looked to have scored but Thomas cleverly cleared off the line.

Totally against the run of play City scored. Dewsbury-Hall burst down the left, where Spurs were at their weakest, and after some nifty work from Lookman, Daka scored from a narrow angle.

Maddison then had a great long range shot well saved by Loris. City then grew in confidence but then, just when they were in the ascendency, Spurs equalized. Kane broke through a flimsy defence despite desperate pleas for offside, left Soyuncu on the floor and scored off the post. Vestergaard was left miles behind play.

Spurs then started to dominate again and Hojbjerg nearly scored but for a superb goal line clearance from makeshift right back Albrighton. City players were applauded off at half term for a hard working display, even though Spurs had missed several chances, with Kane the guilty party on many occasions.

Conte had spotted the Achilles heel in his side and brought on Doherty for Emerson Royal. This changed the dynamic immediately. Doherty not only looked more solid in defence but motored down the right wing all second half with dangerous effect. Rodgers soon reacted by bringing on Justin for Thomas to a standing ovation from the fans after such a long lay off.

The match became more open and City lived dangerously at times. Midfield was breached too many times and, without the impact of Ndidi, this exposed the shaky pairing of Soyuncu and Vestergaard with the willing support of Choudhury who was doing his best in an unfamiliar position.

Daka had less of an impact as the match progressed, although he had little support and very rarely were passes made to his runs. Rodgers then brought on Barnes for Daka with almost immediate effect somewhat out of the blue. A neat interchange between Barnes and Maddison led to a goal by Maddison with the aid of a slight deflection from a defender. 2-1 in the lead with 14 minutes to go. What could go wrong?

Conte made his third substitute in the 79th minute, bringing on Bergwijn for Reguilon. City brought on Soumare for Dewsbury-Hall in the 88th minute who had played really well but was tiring and had taken a knock.

There was a fracas in the City penalty area close to the end of the match when Bergwijn went down claiming a penalty. He then jumped up and pushed Soyuncu in the chest. Our favourite referee John Moss only brandished a yellow card. Should it have been a red card?

5 minutes of injury time were awarded. In the fourth minute of injury time City lost the ball in midfield, yet again, and from a good ball from Hojbjerg, Justin was isolated, Doherty’s shot was blocked but Bergwijn scored from the rebound. It was shambolic defending. City fans and players were stunned.

Two points thrown away at the end. And then it got even worse. Tielemans, who had not had a good game, thought he could dribble through the centre of the pitch from the kick off and lost possession. City had too many men forward as Kane played a ball to that man Bergwijn who went wide with Schmeichel close by and then shot off the post with Soyuncu on the wrong side of the goal. Vestergaard was nowhere to be seen. City players slumped to the floor as Spurs players and fans celebrated deliriously.

So now that the dust has settled and, in readiness for the Brighton match, what have we learned?

  • I am sorry but, in my opinion, Vestergaard has been a truly awful signing. He is an obvious weakness in defence which teams can exploit. He cannot head the ball, is painfully slow to turn and has no physical presence despite his size. I just cannot see what his strengths are and I would rather that we start to bring in one of our under 23 players instead until either Evans or Fofana returns. Until that happens it is easy to see that we will let in at least two goals a game and will not make progress up the league table.
  • Soyuncu’s performances, for all his last minute tackles, have gone backwards and not helped by constant changes around him. He has meltdown moments when put under pressure.
  • We do not have an organiser on the pitch. There was a time in this match when we needed a cool head. I would have thought that person was Tielemans but he, for once, made the error that led to the last goal.
  • Without Ndidi our defence is exposed too easily. Can Soumare carry out this role? If not we need to recruit now in advance of Tielemans’ departure which surely will happen at the end of this season.
  • Dewsbury-Hall has been a revelation. Are there more players on the fringe that could benefit from some game time?
  • We are not making the best use of Daka’s speed and mobility. On many times in the first half he made intelligent runs for the ball only to see it being passed back and sideways.
  • Even without Vardy we look dangerous upfront when we have the ball played to feet.
  • Albrighton is doing his best at right back but will struggle against the better players.
  • Choudhury could still have a role in this team. He showed improvement in his game.

Looking ahead to Sunday, Brighton are a good team, although a little shot shy. They are superb at corners so it is not difficult to see where their goal(s) will come from. The question is – will City score more than the opposition and wipe out the memory of this match against Spurs?

Tottenham: Lloris; Tanganga, Sanchez, Davies; Emerson, Skipp, Hojbjerg, Winks, Reguilon; Lucas, Kane. Subs: Gollini, Sessegnon, Rodon, Doherty, Lo Celso, Gil, Dele, Bergwijn, Scarlett.

Leicester: Schmeichel: Choudhury, Vestergaard, Söyüncü:, Albrighton, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall, Thomas: Maddison, Daka, Lookman. Subs: Jakupovic, Ward, Justin, Perez, Barnes, Soumare, Daley-Campbell, McAteer, Brunt

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

Going to the Spurs Game – Protect Fellow Fans

Although the level of infections of the omnicron variant reported in recent days has significantly reduced, we should not become complacent, therefore the Trust board continues to urge every LCFC attending the Spurs game to take a Lateral Flow Test before the game (even if holding a valid covid pass), to protect their wider LCFC family and keep away from the game if a positive test result is given.

Many fans will already have Lateral Flow Tests at home due to requirements of their employers, while kits are now available again to collect at chemists and are free.

You can have Covid 19 without having symptoms, please don’t inadvertently share the virus with fellow fans by failing to take a test prior to the game

With the omnicron variant still being easily transmitted, the Foxes Trust board also urges all LCFC fans as a minimum to wear face masks in any enclosed areas such as inside the concourse and when using toilet facilities.

Football-Based Mental Wellbeing Launched

Leicester City in the Community are working in partnership with Goal Difference Leicester, with the help of Foxes legend Steve Walsh, to host a weekly programme to support adults with their mental health.

The programme uses football themes, stories and metaphors to help people from a wide range of backgrounds who are presented with a variety of mental health and social problems to address their issues in a unique and positive way.

The sessions are free of charge and will be held at King Power Stadium. They start on Tuesday 18 January, then running every Tuesday morning for 8 weeks.

Further details are available Leicester City in the Community | Leicester City (lcfc.com)

For more information, or to register your interest, please contact Matt Bray: [email protected] or sign up (go to page 3) HERE.

Further support can be found through the United Leicester Wellbeing Hub, which can be accessed here: www.unitedleicester.com.