LEICESTER 4 BURNLEY 2
Report by Eddie Blount
For the first time since the miracle season of 2015-16 City sit proudly at the top of the Premiership table. With Man City away coming up next we should probably make the most of it! Few of us would have predicted six points out of six and seven goals to boot given that we were missing three key players and the attendant problems in central defence and defensive midfield that caused.
Strangely Burnley were also missing three of their best players including both centre backs but being Burnley under Sean Dyche there was no doubt we would be in for a battle and so it turned out. This was a stereotypical boxer v fighter contest with City buzzing around with intricate passing sequences based on a possession game whilst Burnley were all bustle and muscle.
In fact the visitors made the better start as City took ages to get out of first gear as Burnley’s pressing game made it difficult for us to manage any significant progress. So it came as no surprise when they took the lead when a deep left wing cross to the far post found Wood up against Justin. The ball was not cleanly won by either man finally hitting Wood’s upper arm before a blatant shove on Justin removed him from the scene allowing Wood to volley past Schmeichel into the bottom corner of his net.
Last season the goal would have been VAR-ed but rule changes allowed it to stand though why VAR didn’t pick up the shove I cannot say. Wood took it well but Justin should have been stronger and you could make a case for Soyuncu swopping with Justin as Wood had been signalling for the cross several seconds before it finally came.
City reacted well to going behind and ten minutes later we were level. Barnes found Vardy with a lovely through ball. The striker pulled both central defenders across the goal before giving a short pass to the excellent Castagne who cleverly laid it into the path of the on-rushing Barnes who in turn slotted the ball without fuss into Pope’s right corner.
City were on top for the rest of the half winning numerous corners which did nothing other than reveal our inadequacies at set pieces. Burnley were bigger and more physical and knew it. We have too many butterflies and not enough wasps. As well as lacking some physicality we are weak in the air for a side with top six ambitions and better sides than Burnley will make us pay for this.
On 40 minutes Burnley suffered another injury blow when playmaker Brady went off with what seemed a rib injury. However such is their spirit they reacted like a limb-depleted Peperami and pressed on as if it mattered not a jot! The half closed with A Tielemans shot from outside the box which was easily dealt with by Pope, touted by many to be England’s next keeper.
Although he was to concede four goals in this match there was no evidence that this will not come to pass. At half time City no doubt took consolation in the fact that last season we went a goal down to Burnley but finished up 2-1 winners. I imagine Rogers’ interval advice to his team was more of the same and chances will come
The second half was only five minutes old when City took the lead with the sort of luck the fates usually reserve for teams they wish to favour. The opportunity came from a magnificent slide-rule through ball by Tielemans which found the over-lapping Castagne whose low cross deflected wickedly off defender Pieters and left Pope flat-footed as it entered the net unopposed.
The match continued to provide opportunities for both sides, Wood spurning a very good chance with a feeble shot straight at Schmeichel and Praet shooting over when set up by Castagne.
The match seemed settled after 61 minutes when a good run by Castagne and clever dribbling by Perez resulted in the latter setting up Justin for a simple finish. This was a reward for the full-back’s good play in every area apart from defensive marking, a rather important reservation. At this point Maddison came on for Perez resuming his injury rehab.
Both sides continued to create chances, Rodriguez shooting over from close in and Praet at the other end had his close range shot blocked. Burnley were far from out of it and indeed they actually had more shots overall than City.
It came as no surprise when they scored again with almost a carbon copy of their first goal. A left side free kick flashed across City’s goal and was headed home by debutant centre-back Dunne. This was another bad goal to concede. We had men back but Dunne got in between Soyuncu and Justin and found the net with a stooping header. The impression was that he wanted it more.
This led to an anxious few minutes but nerves were settled when Praet scored on 78 minutes with a super strike from the edge oof the box which gave Pope no chance. Barnes set up the chance and a dummy run by Castagne created the time and space. Great goal!
Typical of Burnley they responded strongly and a free kick in a dangerous position went just over Schmeichel’s bar, followed immediately by a great block by Soyuncu to deny Wood who shortly afterwards hit the post after some very sloppy defending.
The final whistle was as much a relief to City as for their opponents who showed exactly the sort of spirit you hope we will show in similar circumstances. My Man of the Match was fullback Castagne by a whisker from Harvey Barnes
City: Schmeichel, Castagne, Ndidi, Soyuncu, Justin, Mendy, Praet (Albrighton 83), Tielemans, Perez (Maddison62), Barnes (Morgan 90), Vardy
Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Long, Dunne, Taylor, Brady (Pieters 40), Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil, Rodriguez (Vydra 70), Wood
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