… the sun comes shining through

Swansea City 1 v 3 Leicester City

Post Match Analysis by Stuart Dawkins

The Storm Babet-induced postponement of last night’s match between Rotherham and Ipswich meant that Leicester were going to end today top of the Championship whatever the result, but the expectations of the travelling supporters were clearly for more than that.

The storm which struck most of the country somehow missed Swansea.  The sky looked threatening as we took a pre-match walk along the seafront at Porthcawl – when suddenly a City supporters’ coach appeared, along with the sunshine … surely a good omen?

Both teams wore Give Racism the Red Card t-shirts for the warm-up, with City playing the match itself in the Leicester Fosse-inspired away kit.  The game started with a minute’s silence for victims of the current Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and also for the anniversary of the dreadful Aberfan disaster in 1966 – with Aberfan being just a few miles from the ground.

Maresca had picked what is probably City’s first eleven to start, with Vardy preferred to Iheanacho.  Much of the game followed now-familiar themes for this dominant Leicester City season.  City created chances from the start.  Their opponents showed, arguably, too much respect … lining up their two banks of four players so close together that for much of the first half all twenty outfield players were within a thirty-yard strip of the pitch.  This very high line by Swansea tempted Leicester into rather more longer balls through the lines than usual.  Many of these led to good opportunities, but none of those early opportunities were taken.

Swansea then gained a corner in the 19th minute with one of their few attacks.  The corner was cleared to the edge of the box and where it was volleyed sweetly by Grimes – the ball taking a deflection past Hermansen to give Swansea the lead.

City continued to control play, with Fatawu having creative moments and Mavididi largely having the run on his full back.  The chances came often, but Ndidi screwed a shot wide, Mavididi’s cross was just missed by Vardy and KD-H’s header was straight at the keeper.  

I was preparing to summarise the first half as being reminiscent of the Hull match: one deflected goal conceded and otherwise a match of continuing frustration.  Then, with a minute to go, Swansea dozed off for the first time, allowing a short-corner routine which led to Ndidi heading a cross back across goal and Vestergaard bundling the ball into the net with some part of his anatomy.  It was the least City deserved for the half, and great reward for Vestergaard’s efforts all this season so far.  Swansea almost hit back straight away, requiring a decent save from Hermansen pushing the ball onto the crossbar before the half time whistle was blown.

The second half started in familiar fashion: Leicester in control but Swansea getting the occasional break.  And, as in almost every game in this remarkable season, Leicester’s patient pressure eventually paid off.  A long sequence of passes led to KD-H getting free down the left.  He cut the ball square and it fell to Fatawu to score from 15-yards.  A scoreline of 1-2 was a fair representation of the game.

Going behind prompted Swansea to press for the first time.  They pushed forward and for 15-minutes it was a competitive game with both teams getting half chances.  Indeed, one dreadful pass across City’s 18-yard line – straight to an unmarked Swansea striker – should really have resulted in an equaliser, but Hermansen made a great save.

Swansea’s more aggressive approach put pressure on City but, this being Maresca-ball, it also led to City getting moments with four players breaking on three.  It was now a really entertaining game.  Swansea brought on substitutes, but they could not find a way past Leicester’s defence.  Iheanacho came on for Vardy in the 83rdminute, and his fresh legs soon found a way to finish the game off.  Pereira played a perfect through ball to release him, and he rounded the keeper to score to make sure it was going to be eleven wins out of twelve.

One worrying moment was that Younus, who had come on as a substitute for Fatawu immediately after he had scored, pulled up with what looked like a groin strain and was substituted – the match ending with Choudhury playing at right back, Faes at left, Coady joining Vestergaard in the centre and Justin pushed forward to the right wing.

Swansea is a lovely place to watch football.  It is an attractive stadium in an attractive location, with friendly fans.  It was disappointing that Leicester’s third goal triggered a mass exodus of home fans, the game ending with the majority of the ground being empty.  Swansea’s players deserved better than that.  They gave City as much of a contest as anyone has this season.  I am reluctant to say it, as I would not want to appear complacent, but so far this season, Leicester City have simply been better than all their opponents.   If Swansea had played on the front foot for the entire game, rather than just for 15 minutes, would the result have been different?  Leicester’s quality might have led to a bigger defeat, but so far – bar the Hull game – Leicester have been able to break down teams who ‘park the bus’ and surely having a go is worth a try?

Winning from one-nil down the game, the match – like the day – started with a grey tint, but the City fans ended up smiling again, and the sun shone though.