CITY CRUSHED BY THE CHAMPIONS

Liverpool 3 City 0

Report by Colin Hall

Leicester City’s six-game winning streak was abruptly and brutally terminated in a 3-0 defeat to Premier League champions Liverpool.

Before the game, many Foxes entertained hopes of a first victory at Anfield in over 20 years. Given their side’s impressive form in recent weeks and a lengthy list of star names missing from the home ranks, such optimism looked reasonable.

However, a performance of pace and power from Jurgen Klopp’s team made light of their absentees and demonstrated why the Reds will be so difficult to depose as title-holders.

Brendan Rodgers made two changes from the line-up that started the previous game against Wolves, replacing Dennis Praet and Luke Thomas with Marc Albrighton and Harvey Barnes. The evening’s events would give him cause to reflect on those changes, and perhaps even to recall the cliché about never changing a winning team.

Dalglish and Rush were inside the stadium to see the game

Before the match, both sides joined in a minute’s applause in remembrance of Ray Clemence, an outstanding goalkeeper who featured in many titanic tussles between these sides, the last being in 1981 when City, despite being bottom of the First Division at the time, won 2-1 to end Liverpool’s 3-year unbeaten home record.

By coincidence, this game gave the home side an opportunity to surpass that record for league matches, and their frenetic start illustrated their keenness to seize it. In the first two minutes, Keita saw his drive deflected narrowly wide and the resultant corner saw Mané reach the ball first, only to send it into the side netting.

The next incident of note, though, gave an indication as to why Anfield is such difficult terrain for visiting sides.

A James Maddison through ball in the home penalty area, intended for Barnes, instead found the outstretched hand of home defender Matip. However, both referee Kavanagh and VAR official Marriner felt that the contact was unintentional. Maybe they also felt that City have had more than enough penalties this season, especially on our travels.

In any event, the visitors should have shown enough composure to put this setback behind them but failed to do so. Liverpool took an iron grip on midfield, enabling them to mount wave after wave of attacks down both flanks.

Just as the City defence looked to have withstood the onslaught, the opening goal arrived in bizarre fashion. Jonny Evans, unsighted at a corner, was unable to stop the ball flying off his head and past Kasper Schmeichel into his own net.

The incident bore an eerie resemblance to the Alan Young header that had given Liverpool the lead in the 1981 game, But this would be as far as the similarities would go. These hosts were not intent on sitting on their lead, but eager to extend it at the earliest opportunity.

Jota, who relishes playing against City, looked particularly sharp, and although he saw a strike ruled out for a foul on Schmeichel, managed to find the scoresheet for the fourth successive home game, heading home after Robertson was allowed significant time and space to cross from the right.

City managed just two efforts on goal in the opening half, Barnes screwing wide from inside the area when he should have found the target and Youri Tielemans – a hitherto peripheral figure – seeing a 20-yard drive comfortably saved by Alisson in the home goal.

The visitors were able to secure slightly more territory and possession after the interval, assisted by an injury to Keita which temporarily disrupted the home side’s rhythm. However, chances remained at a premium, although Alisson had to be alert to deny both Barnes and Jamie Vardy following smart work by Maddison with a free-kick.

This window of opportunity did not last very long, though, and neither Praet nor Cengiz Under were able to exert any influence when introduced midway through the half. Only the woodwork, some fine Schmeichel saves and desperate goal-line clearances stopped Liverpool from handing out a real hiding, as the weaknesses of the visiting defence were repeatedly exposed and exploited.

Eventually Firmino, who had previously endured a particularly wasteful evening in from of goal, was able to escape the attentions of Under to head home from a Milner corner and punish a defence whose vulnerabilities at set pieces have remained unaddressed for far too long.

The final whistle came as something of a relief to both the players and the hordes watching on TV. Rodgers has enjoyed some memorable tactical victories this season, but his former stamping-ground, as too often in recent times, saw his charges fail to do themselves justice at either individual or collective level.

Only Schmeichel and James Justin could take pride from their performances here, though others may have learnt some valuable lessons from their experiences.

Fortunately for City, the coming weeks provide a chance to move on very quickly from this defeat.

With a number of the injured contingent due to return soon, we must hope that chance is seized.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Milner (c), Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Jones, Wijnaldum, Keita (N Williams 54); Jota (Origi 89), Firmino, Mané (Minamino 89). Subs not used:Adrian, Tsimikas, Phillips, Clarkson.

Scorers: Evans (og 21, Jota 41, Firmino 86.

City (5-4-1): Schmeichel; Albrighton, Fofana, Evans, Fuchs (Praet 62), Justin, Maddison, Mendy, Tielemans, Barnes (Under 62); Vardy. Subs not used: Ward, Morgan, Thomas, Choudhury, Iheanacho.

Booked: Justin, Mendy. 

Referee: Chris Kavanagh,  VAR: Andre Marriner

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

Josh Knight

Continuing our occasional series, where the Foxes Trust links up with fellow Trusts where a Leicester City player has gone on loan to get a fan’s view of how they are doing, today we check the progress of Josh Knight by obtaining the views of David Cook, Wycombe Wanderers Trust Director

“11 games into Wycombe Wanderers’ first ever season in the highly competitive Championship and the Club is just beginning to find its feet, due, in no small part, to Josh Knight’s arrival on the scene.

At the time of writing, Josh had started 7 games in the Number 12 shirt, having seen us claim our first point against Watford and then back to back wins against Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City.

Josh has slotted in quickly alongside Anthony Stewart, the Club’s 2019/20 player of the season, and a level of understanding has developed quickly, his calm, assured presence already resulting in a back four that is growing in confidence.

Player recruitment at Wycombe is based, not only on ability, but also on a player’s acceptance of the Club’s ethos, we win and lose together and observance of the principles of hard work, commitment, respect and honesty.

Clearly, by his performance on the pitch, Josh has bought into this, supported not only by Gareth Ainsworth and his management team, but also by the senior ‘generals’ in the squad.

Wycombe has a reputation, justifiably gained over several years, of looking after players trusted to its care and returning players to their parent club having gained invaluable first team experience as part of their career development. We are sure that will be the case with Josh, although we hope that we don’t have to return him anytime soon.”

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

Millers Welcome to George Hirst

In an occasional series, the Foxes Trust links up with fellow Trusts where a Leicester City player has gone on loan to get a fan’s view of how they are doing

Today we feature the views of Chris Saxon from the Millers Trust on George Hirst’s initial start at Rotherham

“When Rotherham manager Paul Warne finally got his man and signed George Hirst on a season long loan, there was no doubts that great things were expected from him by management and fans alike. This was a player well known in the local South Yorkshire football scene having unceremoniously departed rivals Sheffield Wednesday just a couple of years ago despite the offer of a long contract.

A promising young player established in the England youth set up, he’d seemingly lost his way after signing for Belgian Second Division side, Leuvan.

I’m not sure how he fared overall in Belgium, but stats show he played 22 games and scored just  three times! Hardly setting the Belgian League alight, however he must have done something right as it was enough to persuade Premiership Leicester City to bring him home.

Two appearances and an entire season passed before the Millers manager finally got his man.  Apparently the two clubs get on well and the Foxes had been impressed with the progress of keeper Daniel Iversen during a similar loan spell, last season.

A lack of goals in pre season and a Championship opener at Wycombe had highlighted a weakness in the final third and it was clear we’d struggle to get the goals needed to compete at this level.

Hirst’s arrival was heralded by our management team as the final piece in the jigsaw, the player likely to get the goals which might see us firmly established as a Championship club.

First impressions were positive. Coming on as a second half substitute against Millwall in our opening home fixture, he offered promise with a couple of efforts on goal despite clearly looking less than match fit. He offered something different, something new. Enthusiasm, pace and an eye for goal. Despite finishing on the losing side that day, most of us were impressed enough to believe that George would be a good addition to our team.

He must also have impressed Paul Warne as he started the next game away to Birmingham City. He struggled a bit in this game and was substituted early second half in a dull uninspiring game devoid of any real quality from either team. A tough uncompromising Birmingham back line proved difficult for the raw, youthful striker but he would surely improve.

Next up another start against Huddersfield Town. A great first half performance against a decent team too with Hirst much more prominent and creating a few goal scoring opportunities. He was once more replaced though early on second half as his lack of match fitness was still very apparent. He might have got that elusive first goal that day had it not been for a goal line clearance.

Surprisingly in my opinion, he was an unused substitute for the next two games before coming on as a second half substitute in each of the three games which we have completed to date.

His match fitness is improving which is to be expected given that Paul Warne was our fitness coach prior to being appointed manager and last season in League One we were often hailed as the fittest team in the division.

He’s clearly desperate to make an impression and is fully aware of why he was brought in. He’s joined a team that should comfortably survive in this league providing they find that regular goal scorer.

Whether George Hirst is that man remains to be seen. Judging by our fans forums and social media, Millers supporters are so far divided. There are those that would have wished for someone more experienced and playing regularly! Others are prepared to give him a chance, time to adapt to our way of playing. I’ve heard some say, “There’s a really good player in there!” “ he’ll prove to be a great addition to our squad” Others are less complimentary.

In my opinion, based solely on what I’ve seen, and I’ve seen every minute of our games to date, he’s young and raw and at times overly keen to impress. He’s struggled to get to grips with a style of play which I suspect is completely new to him. He’s found it difficult against seasoned defenders in a tough division often labelled as Premiership 2.

On the plus side, his enthusiasm is there for all to see, however, at this level enthusiasm is unlikely to be enough. It’s very early days and perhaps with more game time under his belt he might well fulfil that promise.

He has shown some really good touches and his shoot on sight policy should eventually pay dividends. He’s quick for a tall player and offers something different. I believe he would benefit from an extended run in our starting eleven.

However, therein lies the problem. This season, with games coming along thick and fast we have four strikers to choose from. Paul Warne likes to keep his squad happy and has so far juggled the starting eleven frequently. Whether, he will buck that trend and give Hirst the game time I think he needs remains to be seen. He will also be under pressure to pick players who are most likely to score goals, so far none of our regular strikers have remotely looked capable of finding the net on a regular basis. If George does start scoring, he should get that regular game time. It’s up to him. “

Reports on Kieran Dewsbury-Hall and Darnell Johnson progress at Luton and Wigan respectively will follow later this year

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

Bid for an LCFC Blanket ?

The Foxes Trust has decided to publicise the current charity auction being undertaken by the Framework Knitters Company, which features an LCFC Blanket

The blanket has been knitted by the residents of Cottage Homes in Oadby, and sewn up by Hazel who lives near Rothley

The proceeds of the sale of these blankets will be donated to Action Homeless in Leicester and we hope the FKC succeed in raising a great sum for such an important local charity – please bid generously! 

The auction commenced on November 9th and runs to Sunday 22nd at 7pm

Please follow the link below to read more and bid, state “Foxes” as the blanker number when making a bid

https://www.lizgreen.co.uk/blanket-auction#&gid=1716520038&pid=2

With the Pay Per View games now scrapped, you can also donate to Action Homeless via the link above

BBC East Midlands featured the work the Framework Knitters Company carries out. which can be seen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDVtRGBrnNk&feature=youtu.be

CITY GO TOP WITH DESERVED WIN OVER CAUTIOUS WOLVES

LEICESTER 1 WOLVES 0

REPORT BY EDDIE BLOUNT

Rogers maintained of necessity his squad rotation policy for this game welcoming back Evans, starting Maddison for only the second time this season in the league and leaving Barnes on the bench in a three centre-back formation which has served City well in recent times, particularly away from home,  in spite of the club’s current shortage of such players.

However hard times can be the making of some and thus it has proved and was again in  this match as Fofana, Evans and the ever-reliable Fuchs all had excellent games as City took the opportunity to move to the top of the table until at least the next round of fixtures with a 1-0 victory.

Wolves it has to be said were the architects of their own misfortune. They pursued an interesting policy based on football being a game of two halves. In the first half they conserved energy and tried to keep as much possession as possible without any attacking thoughts at all. Indeed Schmeichel spent the entire half drawing his salary under false pretences without a single serious touch of the ball.

It took over half an hour before they managed a corner and the half passed without a single Wolves’ shot on -or off – goal. Not that City were setting the world alight at the other end but at least we scored one goal and should have scored another. Leicester took the lead with a VAR penalty after 14 minutes when defender Kilman handled a Praet cross. The ball struck him from close range and pre-VAR and clarification about what constitutes handball it would not have been given as a penalty. Before we get too excited remember that those who live by the sword often die by it! Whatever Vardy scored with an excellent shot well to the left of a keeper moving strongly to the right.

Nothing of significance happened for over twenty minutes though City pushed on with some fine inter-passing, quick and precise. Wolves simply loitered without intent content to absorb all that City threw at them.

On 37 minutes we should have made them pay the price for their lack of ambition when awarded another penalty, this time quite rightly as young full-back Ait-Nouri chopped down Justin from behind.

I was slightly surprised that it was not given to Tielemans as Vardy had already revealed his hand from the spot and faced the dilemma of going the same way or not. In fact he went the opposite way but without conviction – insufficient power and far too close to keeper Patricio who saved comfortably. Never waste gifts from the Gods!

This shock woke Wolves up and they spent the last few minutes of the half if not on the attack at least passing the ball forwards, usually down City’s left. City to be fair were untroubled and looked well organised at the back with Fofana outstanding. He will be 20 before Christmas!

The second half showed the full craftiness of Wolves’ tactics. Having spent the first half drifting down stream they climbed into their speedboat! A match which was tactical and largely featureless suddenly became a basketball match and continued in this vein for half an hour. You will not be surprised to learn that Wolves are very much a second -half team. Let the opposition wear themselves out in the first half and then ………… attack!

However it was not until the 55th minute that they managed a shot on target, Neto firing into Schmeichel’s arms from outside the box. City were not idle, Tielemans heading wide, Fuchs off target and Vardy forcing the keeper to concede a corner with a rasping crosss-shot.

After an hour Wolves played their trump card – Traore came on as a sub. He looked a little portly which may explain the otherwise inexplicable decision to leave him out of the starting XI. City had prepared for his arrival, replacing Thomas at half-time with Albrighton and moving the ever-improving Justin to the left side alongside Fuchs with instructions to double-mark Traore when he appeared and to cut him off at source. City did this really well and almost totally nullified the threat Traore poses. Perhaps we could try to buy him!

The key event of the second half came in the76th minute when Neves shot from just outside the box was quite magnificently saved by Schmeichel who somehow pushed it over the angle of bar and post. This was a statement save – you are not getting one past me today. I almost relaxed and luxuriated in the thought of us being top at international break time. Dendoncker almost spoiled things, poking wide from close range but nobody on the pitch seemed concerned, confirming that this was indeed a done deal.

Just to be certain Rogers took off Praet and brought on Morgan to turn a back three into a back four! That sounds ultra- defensive and it was but we still managed the best move of the match when Justin made a surging run down the left, crossing to the supporting Barnes (on as sub for Maddison) whose first time shot was deflected inches over.

So an excellent team performance especially defensively where we looked very solid. Going forward I was particularly impressed by Mendy who resembles Kante the more I see him play and will have to be considered for a place in the side when Ndidi returns, also Maddison who when fit. gives us a greater attacking threat.

City: Schmeichel, Fofana, Evans, Fuchs, Justin, Tielemans, Mendy, Thomas (Albrighton 45), Praet (Morgan 80), Maddison (Barnes 72)

Wolves: Patricio, Boly, Coady, Kilman, Semedo, Dendoncker, Neves, Ait-Nouri (Oliviera 76), Neto (Silva 79), Podence (Traore 60), Jimenez

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