Leicester City 0 – Manchester City 2
Report by Chris Griffin
The first half redefined the meaning of one-sided. Leicester scarcely set foot in their opponents’ half. It wasn’t long until my mobile was pinging with messages from fellow Foxes expressing frustration and disbelief at our defensive approach. One said it was like watching a snooker match where the same player makes 147 frame-after-frame-after-frame so dominant were Manchester City.
Leicester’s defensive low block certainly invited Manchester City to attack. And since it kept the visitors out for an hour it could be said to be justified. But this approach, from the perspective of many fans, might seem too cautious, especially given the team has been on such a good run and lies third in the table with a chance of finishing second. We really do want to see them give it a go.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause for Frank Worthington, Leicester legend from the 70s. Leicester’s line-up replaced Soyuncu, who had tested positive for covid, with Amartey.
After a quiet opening five minutes Leicester had a fortunate escape when Fernandinho drilled a low twenty-yard shot into the goal. Fortunately, Aguero was in an offside position blocking Schmeichel’s sightline so the goal was ruled out. The visitors stayed on the front foot. Rodri was a consistent threat down the left while Mahrez raided down the right.
Despite numerous Leicester attempts to play out from the back Manchester City’s press was so high and tight that Leicester had to resort to long clearances which inevitably surrendered possession. De Bruyne sent in a good cross that Castagne blocked but the ball fell to Aguero who shot over the bar. De Bruyne then shot over himself but referee Taylor brought the play back to just outside the D for a foul on de Bruyne by Ndidi. Not so much a foul as an “air foul” since contact between the players was non-existent. De Bruyne took the free kick, his shot hammering against the crossbar before rebounding to safety.
Jesus shot into the side netting after a Walker cross. Schmeichel made a good save from a fierce Aguero shot after Mahrez had put Jesus through. In a rare visit to the visitors’ half Perez was fouled by Fernandinho. Albrighton’s free kick sailed harmlessly into the arms of Ederson. Ndidi was booked for a foul on de Bruyne after a promising Leicester attack broke down in midfield. The game reverted to the same pattern of Manchester City dominance. It was hard not to wonder how 30,000 Leicester fans would have reacted to our team’s approach had they been there.
Good work by Fofana – who was having an outstanding game – tidied up a situation after Amartey had miskicked his clearance. Schmeichel blocked a Mahrez shot. De Bruyne rifled a low fast shot just wide of the post.
As the half closed Leicester at last moved upfield. Tielemans intercepted a pass in the Manchester half and swept forward only to shoot over. Perez played a smart ball through to Vardy who dribbled around Ederson and coolly put the ball in the net but the striker was offside.
There is no doubt that City had defended very well against their highly skilled opponents. They had kept them out for a half. However, doing the same for another 45 minutes seemed a tall order.
Leicester showed intent on attacking more after half time. Ederson had to be quick to clear a poor back pass before Iheanacho could reach it. Albrighton passed to Tielemans who beat Fernandinho and shot fiercely, forcing a good Ederson save. Vardy won a tackle in midfield and passed to Iheanacho who set off on a superb run before passing to Tielemans whose goal bound shot was block tackled away for a corner by Diaz.
But danger still existed at the other end. Rodri, unmarked at the far post, just failed to make good contact with a de Bruyne free kick. Fofana cleared well after Amartey had given away possession. Aguero had a shot blocked which went for a corner that was eventually cleared by Evans.
On the hour mark Manchester City took the lead. Schmeichel fisted away a fierce Mahrez shot but Rodri took possession and sent a cross to the far post. Mendy gathered and stepped inside the onrushing Albrighton before curling an accurate shot around Schmeichel into the net.
The visitors then brought on Sterling for Aguero which was hardly going to weaken them. Perez sent Iheanacho away down the left wing but his cross flew behind the goal. A good Vardy knock down gave Perez a chance to shoot but the ball did not come down quickly enough.
On the 71st minute Leicester brought on Maddison for Iheanacho and Ricardo for Albrighton. Ederson was shown a yellow card for delaying a goal kick. Perhaps we had them rattled! If so it was not for long. Almost immediately de Bruyne played a superb pass to Jesus who exchanged passes with Sterling before driving the ball past Schmeichel to make it 2-0.
The lead nearly increased when Evans was caught in possession. De Bruyne passed to Mahrez who shot wide.
Maddison was relishing his return and having plenty of touches. Walker welcomed him to the game with a late challenge and was shown a yellow card. A good move between Vardy and Tielemans gave Maddison a shooting chance but he shot over. Next Vardy, Castagne, and Ricardo combined brilliantly to give Maddison another chance but he scuffed his shot and Ederson gathered.
Tempers frayed in the last few minutes, especially following an Amartey challenge on de Bruyne. Rodri was shown yellow for a foul on Tielemans. The game ended: Leicester’s seventh home defeat.
Brendan Rodgers appeared philosophical in his post-match interview. He acknowledged the better team won. He thought we were not as good on the ball as we had been and linked that to fatigue following the internationals. He acknowledged how well Fofana had played.
Next up is West Ham away. Let’s hope the players can recuperate during the coming week and go to London with the confidence and self-belief they’ve been justified in showing for most of the season and gain a win.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Amartey, Fofana, Evans, Castagne, Albrighton, Ndidi, Tielemans, Perez, Iheanacho, Vardy.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Rubin Diaz, Laporte, Mendy, Rodri, Fernandinho, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Aguero.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
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