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