Set pieces torment City again

Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester City

Report by Chris Griffin

The Leicester City team continues to frustrate and confuse its supporters. Unlike the last game against Southampton, City began the game against Aston Villa on the front foot and took a deserved lead. But constant frailties when defending set pieces keep reappearing and, together with some wasteful finishing, ultimately cost City the game. After 15 premier league games the team has scored 23 goals (commendable) but conceded 27 (poor). The players also conceded 25 free kicks against Villa: far too many.

Daka came in for Vardy and Dewsbury-Hall for Soumare. Early signs were encouraging. Leicester pressed well in the Villa’s defensive third and frequently won back possession. Lookman put Daka through in the inside right channel but his cross shot was gathered by Martinez. A Maddison shot was blocked by Nakamba following an excellent Barnes run. Daka beat Ings to a long pass from Evans but shot wide.

It was no surprise when City took the lead after 15 minutes with an excellent goal. Evans found Maddison. The midfielder drove forward and passed infield to Daka. He resisted strong challenges from three Villa players and showed top class vision by playing the ball left to Barnes who dribbled into the penalty area and stroked a controlled and well-placed shot between the legs of Cash and into the net off the far post.

City had a deserved lead and were controlling the game: what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, especially if a set piece was involved. It started a minute later with a self-inflicted wound when Lookman gave away an unnecessary free kick near City’s penalty area. Already the alarm bells were ringing with City fans. Douglas Luiz sent a long in-swinger into the box finding Cash beyond the far post – in so much space you’d think he was in quarantine. Cash headed back across the area where Buendia headed towards goal, the ball apparently receiving a slight touch from Konsa before going past Schmeichel’s despairing dive into the net just inside the post.

Not so long ago there would have been a defender on the post to clear the header but apparently that is not the modern way!

To be fair Leicester went looking for a goal. Smart work by Barnes and Thomas gave Dewsbury-Hall a great opportunity in front of goal but he sent the header wide. Dewsbury-Hall won a corner but it was easily gathered by Martinez. Meanwhile, Schmeichel needed to be alert when Cash shot hard and low but the keeper saved with his feet.

Leicester were putting on the pressure and looked menacing. Good pressing by Lookman in the Villa penalty area led to chances for both Daka and Maddison but each time a Villa defender blocked the effort. Barnes made good ground before passing to Dewsbury-Hall who delayed shooting and a good chance went begging. Thomas was next to try his luck after more good work by Barnes, but his effort flew wide of the posts. Still Leicester persisted. Daka chested down to Maddison a long pass from Evans but Martinez dealt well with Maddison’s shot.

Villa weathered this period and exerted sustained pressure of their own. There was a period where anywhere will do seemed to be the maxim of the City defenders with every clearance going to a Villa player. This triggered a controversial end to the half. Douglas Luiz sent a cross to the far post where yet again Cash was in loads of space. He headed back across goal. Schmeichel parried a shot then put his hand on top of the ball only for it to be instantly kicked into the net by Ramsey. Villa’s joy was short-lived as VAR determined that Schmeichel was in possession of the ball and awarded him a free kick. The law does not read as clearly as might be wished and it was hard to avoid the sense that City had dodged one.

For about 30 seconds City began the second half looking bright and alert with Lookman and Daka combining only for Daka to shoot wide. That was the end of the good news for City fans. Much of the next 25 minutes was dominated by Villa. Evans was working overtime, heading clear a Cash cross en-route to Ramsey, then clearing a cross from Young. A fierce cross from Cash evaded a Villa boot with the goal gaping wide open. Watkins played in Young who shot wide of the far post. Watkins next had a go by himself dribbling deep into the City penalty box but Thomas blocked his shot for a corner.

This, however, was not good news. City left Villa’s two biggest players (Mings and Konsa) unmarked at the far post and it was Konsa who headed in from very close range with not a challenge on him.

The goal seemed to really knock the stuffing out of City. They continued as second best, beaten to every ball, not making tackles and offering little threat going forward because of misplaced passes and slow play. Meanwhile Cash was causing problems again, latching onto a Young cross but his shot was blocked. It took till the 63rd minute for City to have a shot when Martinez grasped a low skimming effort from Dewsbury-Hall. This seemed to wake up City a little. Dewsbury-Hall found Maddison whose left shot curled over the bar. Villa, however, remained a threat. A superb pass from McGinn played Watkins into the penalty area but Schmeichel came out to make a great save.

City made changes with Vardy on for Lookman and Perez for Daka.

In the 75th minute Leicester came close to snatching a second when Barnes rose first to Castagne’s cross but his looping header was brilliantly tipped over the bar at the last second by Martinez.

Villa were now content to defend from deep to keep City at bay. With time running out City had a flurry of attacks forcing corners but Villa dealt with them comfortably. Maddison tried a short corner to the edge of the penalty area but Dewsbury-Hall was beaten to the ball. He claimed a penalty but neither referee Oliver or VAR were interested. A good opportunity to put the ball in the box was wasted when Maddison opted for short free kick which he underhit and Villa cleared easily. Mings cleared a good header by Perez from a Soyuncu cross. At the end Schmeichel came up for a couple of corners but to no effect. And that, basically, was that.

Leicester have won just three of their past 12 games in the league. It is stating the obvious to say that the defence needs fixing especially at set pieces.

Brendan Rodgers acknowledges that defending the dead ball is: “our Achilles heel.” He correctly points out that this “can sap the confidence out of the team…. it’s something we’ve got to fix.”

Aston Villa: Martinez; Cash; Konsa; Mings; Young; McGinn; Nakamba; Douglas Luiz; Buendia; Watkins; J Ramsey

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Castagne; Evans; Soyuncu; Thomas; Dewsbury-Hall; Ndidi; Lookman; Maddison; Barnes; Daka

Referee: Michael Oliver                                 Attendance: 41,572

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 Aston Villa ?

Aston Villa FC – B6 6HE – Sunday December 5th 4.30pm

Directions from the North West or South West

Exit junction 7 of the M6 and follow signs for Birmingham A34. After passing Alexandra Stadium stay in the nearside lane and leave the main carriageway. Matchday car parks are signposted on the left hand side.

Directions from the North East or South East

The following official parking sites on the south side of the stadium are as follows:

Via Salford Junction / Lichfield Road – junction 6 of the M6 signposted A38

  • Powerleague
  • Star City (free parking) BEWARE PARKING OUTSIDE WHITE LINES OR INAPPROPRIATELY CAN RESULT IN HEAVY FINES
  • Aston Social Club

Via Park Circus -junction 6 of the M6 signposted A38 (M) City Centre

  • Aston Tower School
King Edward School Parking Restrictions

Are in place in residential areas around the stadium

Approx 52 miles, 1 hour

Pubs

There are a number of pubs in the vicinity of Villa Park, but most of them on match days are either members only or have bouncers on the door. ‘The Witton Arms allows away fans but does charge to gain entry. The Yew Tree is on the same road as the Witton Arms, but with this pub on your left carry straight on up the road, passing Witton Railway Station on your right. After about half a mile you will see the pub on the right hand side. Also around a 15 minute walk away near Birmingham City University is the ‘Hare of the Dog’ pub.

If you arrive a bit earlier then you may wish to visit the historic Bartons Arms, located about a 15 minute walk away on High Street Aston (A34). This Grade II listed building is one of Birmingham’s finest pubs, with superb Victorian decor, serving Oakham ales and Thai food is also on offer. It is a regular entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. 

Star City is just off Junction 6 of the M6, going towards Villa Park. Huge free car park, plus plenty of food and drink outlets. It is then about a mile and half walk to the ground.

By Train

The two nearest train stations to Villa Park are Witton and Aston.

 Train takes approx 1 hour to Birmingham, 1hr 23mins to Aston, off peak day return £16.10

Security Issues

In light of the current security situation, most clubs have implemented some additional entry procedures which can take additional time. All fans are urged to arrive early to ensure they are able to clear security and enter before kick off. Rucksack or similar type bags may not be permitted in the stadium and there are no “left luggage” facilities in the local area of most grounds.

All information is provided in good faith but the Foxes Trust cannot be held responsible for any errors. Thanks to Aston Villa FC and the Football Ground Guide

SAME CHOCOLATES IN THE ADVENT CALENDAR

SOUTHAMPTON 2 FOXES 2

Report by Graham Tracey

We kicked off our hectic and probably season-defining December with our season so far in a nutshell. A slow start, two soft goals from corners, nearly another penalty conceded, but two good goals ourselves and ultimately with chances to win.

The league table remains the most congested I can remember at this stage, meaning we shouldn’t yet be thinking of this as a ‘cup run only’ season. However, even with an established centre half pairing that has served us well historically in Evans and Soyuncu, we are never going to put together a string of victories when we are consistently letting in two goals a game. I don’t know what the problem is, but it seems unlikely to ease until Fofana and Justin return.

The game started at 7.30, and I’m old enough to remember when this was the standard kick off for evening games. If Eastenders is also still on at 7.30, we’d conceded virtually by the end of the theme tune. When Southampton took a short corner, I breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived as a well-worked move saw a shot from the cut back well saved by Kasper, only for Bednarek to poke home in the ensuing scramble.

Anyone betting on another 9-0, let alone what looked like a great chance for a clean sheet, was ripping up their coupon already. Shocking concentration by us, and for 20 minutes it was as if we had deep sea diving suits on, so much more fluid and hungry were the Saints.

Our equaliser came out of the blue, when a Lookman counter-attack won us a corner, and then Maddison set up Ndidi, whose shot was only parried by McCarthy to Evans who stroked home.

Unfortunately, this didn’t provide any momentum, and before half time another corner wasn’t cleared properly, and Adams had time to open his advent calendar and write a few cards before stooping to glance home a low cross between our mannequins.

Rodgers was looking more animated (i.e. annoyed) than usual and it was no surprise to see a change at half time. Soumare had some good games when he first came in, but is no doubt adjusting to the pace of English football and particularly looked like a clockwork toy on its last legs tonight. His fatigue shows in how many fouls he concedes.

Dewsbury-Hall came on, and immediately influenced the game with his purposeful running with the ball and ability to pick out a cross field pass. He was involved in our equaliser early in the second half (pleasingly also involving other home-grown talent in Barnes and Thomas), completed expertly at the near post by Madders who had begun the move in our own half.

2-2 after 50 minutes suggests a great game, and the Amazon commentators raved about it in the way that commentators who don’t often get to cover a live match do. In truth, neither team were playing particularly well. However, the remainder of the match was definitely the most exciting, even though ultimately there were no goals. It could genuinely have gone either way right into injury time.

We were the stronger team with more quality, but there was a palpable sense that while we could score another top drawer goal, Southampton were justified to feel we could gift them another at any minute. This was encapsulated when Ndidi pole-axed a player in the box, only to be saved by the offside flag already being raised. That would have been a ridiculous 3 pens in 3 games for the strangely out-of-sorts mainstay.

At the other end, I am still wondering how McCarthy got his fingertips to Barnes’ drive, and how Vardy fired over when clean through. An extra two points would have been massive in the current state of play.

I supported Rodgers’ decision to play an unchanged team tonight – it was a great chance for a victory. However, I would like to see some rotation at Villa, given that I see the trip to Napoli as absolutely massive and our biggest game of the season by far. Maddison played through obvious discomfort in the second half, so I’d rather rest him than lose him for a month as he is our standout player right now.

LEICESTER: Schmeichel 5, Castagne 5, Thomas 6, Evans 6, Soyuncu 5, Ndidi 4, Soumare 4, Barnes 5, Lookman 6, Maddison 8, Vardy 6. Subs: Dewsbury-Hall 7, Perez 6, Daka 5.

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

GOALFEST IN THE SNOW

LEICESTER CITY 4 WATFORD 2

Match Report by Paul Weston

It was a day for thermals at the King Power as temperatures dropped and fans returned in optimistic spirits after the victory against Legia Warsaw. Perhaps the Foxes’ form was starting to return after what had been an underwhelming start to the season?

Evans was back after his late injury withdrawal mid-week. This resulted in Amartey missing out, despite his solid display against Warsaw. Up front Jamie Vardy returned in place of Daka. In all other respects Rodgers selected the same team that had beaten Warsaw.

Claudio Ranieri was back as manager of Watford. He was given a wonderful welcome by the City fans both before and during the match which was well deserved. He will always have a place in City’s history and will be fondly remembered by all City fans.

City started on the front foot and pressed the Watford defence, with Vardy and Barnes looking lively. At the same time Watford looked impressively fast on the break and were certainly not coming for a draw. Although City had the bulk of possession without creating many chances it was quite a surprise when Maddison scored in the 16th minute.

City had already played more long balls than normal and Evans launched one towards the centre of Watford’s defence. Ekong helpfully ducked underneath the ball, unaware that Maddison was lurking behind, who struck the ball cleanly across the goalie inside the post to give the Foxes the lead.

During this period Watford had a heavily deflected shot rebound off the inside of the post and across the goal line when Schmeichel could then safely gather the ball. Perhaps Lady Luck was on City’s side after all?

However, just when City were getting on top, they threw away the advantage with yet another silly defensive error which is becoming a habit. Ndidi caught Dennis’ leg in the penalty area for a clear and clumsy penalty despite the VAR check. Although Schmeichel dived the correct way King’s penalty was too high and strong and Watford were level.

Maddison was getting some space during the first half and was looking more like his old self, with the assurance of Soumare and N’Didi providing defensive cover in midfield. After a few balls threaded through failed to find their target he twisted and jinked a pass through to the predatory Vardy on the left. Jamie was on the ball in a flash and superbly flicked the ball past the goalie and over the despairing leg of the defender on the line. It was a trademark Vardy goal and it was good to see him back on the goal trail again.

Shortly after Vardy scored again with a superb near post header from a well flighted Maddison corner. Suddenly City were 3-1 up and it was just like old times as the Maddision/Vardy combination was starting to click again which was especially needed in the absence of Tielemans due to injury.

During the first half the snow had started to swirl down. There was the bizarre sight of the sprinklers turned on during half time. One wondered whether this was a cunning plan to transform the pitch into a skating rink.

The snow continued to fall heavily as the second half started, Maddison and Vardy continued to look lively and it became clear that different tactics would have to be employed. Unfortunately this point was not grasped by Castagne who twice dallied on the ball and was caught in possession. City got away with the first chance, but on the second occasion, despite claims for a foul rebuffed by VAR, Dennis stole the ball and calmly chipped past Schmeichel. 3-2 and yet again City had contrived to allow Watford back into the match.

The match continued to ebb and flow and City started to play the long ball into the channels to avoid problems in the snow and make use of our pacey forwards. Schmeichel thankfully decided to kick long most of the time, avoiding the anxiety of Watford pushing our defenders into mistakes.

There was a brief interlude when the ref requested that the snow be cleared from the pitch markings which allowed the players and fans to draw breath in a fascinating match.

Castagne then made up for his error with a great tackle in midfield. In a flash the ball was with Barnes who flicked it across the goal for Lookman to score from about 3 feet. It was a fast, slick move that we used to see so often with City but for some reason had become a forgotten tactic. Vardy looked keen for a hat trick and was extremely close with a shot that the goalie palmed around the post.

Late on Maddison and Lookman were subbed by Albrighton and Dewsbury-Hall to provide added energy as the players slogged through the snow. After 7 minutes of extra time the match ended 4-2 with City worthy winners in the end but with Watford opponents who had contributed much to a fascinating match. If only their defence was as good as their forwards the result would have been closer. It was never a comfortable victory until late in the second half.

It would be churlish to dwell too much on the negative part of City’s display such as our defensive errors which continue to help our opponents into the game, Soumare’s lack of speed of thought and the ease in which teams can still burst through our midfield.

Instead it was good to see our season bursting into life at long last and form and confidence returning to Maddison at last. Thomas had an excellent game and Jamie Vardy was at his very best. The worse the conditions became the more he seemed to relish the challenge.

Two tricky away games now come thick and fast and it will be fascinating to see whether this momentum can be maintained as Rodgers no doubt may have to juggle the team selections. It would be a great Christmas present for fans if City could continue a climb up the top half of the Premier table.

Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel, Timothy Castagne, Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu, Luke Thomas: Boubakary Soumare, Wilfred Ndidi: Ademola Lookman (Marc Albrighton 75)., James Maddison (Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall 88), Harvey Barnes: Jamie Vardy. Subs (not used): Danny Ward, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ayoze Perez, Daniel Amartey, Hamza Choudhury, Jannik Vestergaard, Patson Daka.

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 Southampton ?

Southampton SO14 5FP

By Car

From the M3 take the A33 into Southampton. Continue on the A33 until you reach the junction with the A3024 Northam Road and turn left onto this road towards Northam. Then turn right onto the B3038, Britannia Road for the stadium. 

Southampton Football Club advises all supporters not to travel by private car into the surrounding areas of the Stadium. Due to parking restrictions operating on a match day they recommend all supporters to use local City Council Car Parks. 

The Club recommends that you make use of the following City Council Car Parks:

1. Bedford Place Multi-storey Car Park – SO15 2QW

2. Grosvenor Square Multi-storey Car Park – SO15 2GR

3. West Park Road Multi-storey Car Park – SO15 1AP

4. Marlands Multi-storey Car Park – SO15 1BA

5. Eastgate Multi-storey Car Park – SO14 3HH

Parking is also available near the Marina or Woolston and may enable a quicker getaway after the match.


Shuttle buses

In addition to the scheduled bus services, there are shuttle bus services in operation on match days from the Central Train Station and the Town Quay Ferry Terminal. These services will commence two hours before the match kicks off and will continue to run until kick off. The service will also be in operation after the match to take passengers back to the railway station/ferry terminal. The service is not a numbered bus service and will simply say “Stadium Shuttle” on inbound journeys and “Rail/Ferry Shuttle” on outbound journeys.

Simply show your match ticket or season ticket booklet in order to use the shuttle bus service for £3 per return journey.
Bluestar 18 bus goes by the stadium

By Foot

The stadium is about 20 minutes walk from the City Centre and train station and is a sign posted walk route.

By Train

Train takes approx 4-5 hours Cheap return £175.60 but you will not get back until morning

Where to drink

There are not many pubs located close to the stadium, so the choice for away fans is limited. There is the Waterfront Bar in William Street, which is an area called Shamrock Quay. In the Ocean Village is “The Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis” public house. This large establishment has an an excellent choice of beers, friendly bar staff and a mix of both home and away fans’.

Most fans seem to end up in the city centre before the game, where there are plenty of pubs to choose from. Please remember though that if you do drink in the centre, that the stadium is a good twenty minute walk away. Otherwise alcohol is served within the ground.
 
Please check the cost and times of trains etc. All information is provided in good faith but the Foxes Trust cannot be held responsible for any errors. With thanks to Southampton FC and the Football Ground Guide