WATFORD 1 CITY 1
Our match reporting team are all contributing their thoughts from the comfort of their own sofas rather than their preferred seat inside the stadium at the game as usual. Eddie Blount kicks off this new vantage position
A match that meandered unthreateningly for most of its course finally spluttered into life at the very end with both sides finding the net in the last five minutes just as the BT analysts were congratulating themselves on having forecast a 0-0 draw. Chilwell must have thought he had won the game for us in the last minute of normal time when he instantly controlled a fine cross-field pass from sub Demari Gray and rifled a wonder-strike from the edge of the box into the far corner via the post.
However City fans are well aware of their side’s propensity for conceding late goals in televised matches and factor in the reputation of Vicarage Road as a far-from-happy hunting ground for us so few will have been too surprised by what happened next. A Watford corner skimmed off the head of Vardy guarding the near post, hit a Watford player and bounced forward to fall close to Dawson who arched acrobatically to get sufficient power to beat Schmeichel from the edge of the six-yard box. In all honesty a draw was the fair result as neither side did enough to lay claim to all three points.
The match clearly suffered from the lack of atmosphere that is inevitably associated with fan-less grounds. City had far more possession but both sides had periods of ascendancy. The first half-hour saw Leicester comfortably in control though rarely threatening, Vardy shooting wide on two occasions hampered by the close attention of Dawson for the first and Ndidi similarly unable to locate the target from distance.
For the rest of the first half and well into the second Watford showed why they have such a good home record under Pearson as they initiated – and spurned – a series of good chances. In the 33rd minute Decoure shot over when a loose ball in the box fell invitingly to him and a minute later the otherwise impeccable Ndidi gave the ball away in a dangerous area leading to Schmeichel having to produce an excellent one-handed save though he should have been given no chance. Just before the break Justin, deputising for the injured Ricardo, did wonderfully well to defend a far-post cross with two Watford players in close proximity.
This pattern continued into the second half. Early on Schmeichel made a great save from winger Sarr who ran clear of City’s defence but could not finish. Two minutes later the irrepressible Deeney headed just wide from a right-wing cross. The tide was now running strongly in the home side’s favour though Soyuncu will feel he should have done better with a clear headed chance form a Maddison corner, only turning with the arrival of Gray for Barnes, a move which significantly improved City’s attacking threat.
It was Gray’s pass on 75 minutes that set up Albrighton whose excellent shot rattled Foster’s left post; in the ensuing play Foster made a fine save from Maddison’s low shot. City were now back in the driving seat yet unable to force the breakthrough until that magnificent Chilwell strike.
The tactics of the two sides made for a stark contrast. City played a possession game going sideways as often as any other direction and taking forever to gain even a few yards with Watford fully positioned and blocking all routes. Chilwell got forward as often as he could which made a difference as it spread the play more but Justin was rarely seen as an attacking force. Only with the arrival of Gray did this change. Unlike Barnes he ran forward with the ball and posed questions to defenders who had to move position and make decisions rather than playing on auto-pilot. He also moved the ball faster and over distance and in so doing should have earned himself a starting place for the next game.
Watford on the other hand could hardly have been more different! They played six men back virtually permanently, three up and down and Deeney up front. It was clear that Watford supported their lone striker far better than we supported Vardy who on several occasions had to slow and stop to give his support time to arrive. Deeney’s power in the air and ability to resist challenges and fight for the ball made him a constant threat. Watford in direct contrast to City used the long ball constantly and tried to feed off loose balls which come when players compete strongly and skillfully. They are a big, physically powerful side and play to their strengths so they will always feel they have a chance at set pieces – and so it proved! On a good day they could kick sand into the faces of more skilfull side like City – and Liverpool!
A word about Justin. He did all the simple things well and concentrated on not being too ambitious. Under pressure he was not always successful in retaining possession but nevertheless showed a promising calm. He was clearly under orders to restrict his forward advances giving Chilwell more licence to roam. He looks a natural defender and was rarely out of position. He has big boots to fill but is young enough to make further improvements to his game. One for the future I feel
One further precious point gained in pursuit of a Champions League spot – or was it an opportunity wasted to dent the confidence of the chasing pack?
City: Schmeichel, Justin, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Ndidi, Albrighton (Iheanacho 83),Tielemans (Choudhury 76), Maddison, Barnes (Gray 65), Vardy
Watford: Foster, Kiko (Mariappa 77), Kabasele, Dawson, Masina (Holebas 88), Hughes, Capoue (Chalobah 77), Sarr, Doucoure (Cleverley 77), Pereyra (Welbeck 69), Deeney
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