LEICESTER CITY 0 MANCHESTER CITY 1
Match Report by Paul Weston
It was great to be back at the King Power after the international break but I admit that I was looking forward to the match against Man City’s millionaires with more than a little trepidation. City had made a stuttering start to the season and I felt that all our players had to be fit and on form to have a chance.
Before the match we visited the remembrance garden to put it all in perspective. How proud our Chairman would have been of our FA Cup Final victory. We looked forward to the emerging and exciting plans for the expansion of the stadium and its surroundings and thought back to how things have progressed since our days at Filbert Street.
The report on the injury front was improved, although Fofana’s and Justin’s continued absence are a huge miss. I hope that we will never invite Villareal for a “friendly” match again.
Vestergaard was brought back into defence after injury hopefully to provide some calm assurance alongside Soyuncu. Bertrand was brought into the left back slot after recovering from Covid and the masked Castagne was on the right, with Ricardo thankfully on the way back and on the substitutes bench, as was Evans and our new loan signing Lookman.
Rodgers had said before the match that, when you play Manchester City, you have to be prepared for less possession of the ball. Well that certainly happened. City had 39% possession and at times you wondered when Man City would let us back into the game such was their domination.
Rodgers said that, when you do have the ball, you have to make good use of it. As the match progressed this proved to be City’s failing all too often as passing went awry at key moments when they had broken through Man City’s lines. When City did break through Man City players were not shy to make a cynical foul. Rodgers also said that need some luck.
City certainly had some luck in the first half as shots rained down on Schmeichel from all angles. Schmeichel made superb saves from Jesus, Silva and Gundogan and Vestergaard was a tower of strength with many last ditch blocks. City though had a great chance early in the game when Ederson saved from Barnes and then Ndidi after a great move started by Albrighton and Vardy. It was a breathtaking first half and it was hard to believe that the score had stayed at 0-0.
City started the second half well and Barnes should have scored with a header when set up by Vardy but hit the top of the bar instead. Vardy scored with a trademark “goal” from a pass from Ndidi but it was judged offside and not deemed suitable for a VAR review. These proved to be City’s best chances as Man City turned the screw and kept the ball. As in the first half City’s midfield was often bypassed and the ball transferred to the wings where Silva and Grealish in particular could create havoc.
Vestergaard was replaced by Evans mid way through the second half after a really strong performance. Sadly soon afterwards Man City scored, slightly fortuitously, when Torres’ shot rebounded off Soyuncu as he blocked it and Silva scored from the rebound. City’s defence had been breached and for a while it looked like the energy had gone from the team. The City crowd also became muted.
Rodgers then brought on Iheanacho and Lookman for the anonymous Maddison and disappointing Barnes. Both players made an immediate impact. Iheanacho shielding the ball well and connecting play better. Lookman was full of energy and had a shot blocked by Ederson with his first touch when he might have chipped over the goalie instead.
City huffed and puffed right to the end but Man City could have made the score more emphatic close to the end through Fernandinho and Grealish.
The end of the match felt like an anti-climax. You could not begrudge Man City their win but you still had the nagging feeling that, if City had played to their full potential, they could have gained a worthy draw if they had taken one of their few chances. If that had happened then Rodgers mantra of “staying in the game” would have worked.
There will be many things for Rodgers to ponder over after this performance. Maddison is currently a shadow of the player he used to be and Dewsbury-Hall is waiting in the wings and should get his chance. Barnes seems to have lost confidence after his injury and Walker had him under control for most of the match. Tielemans was often crowded out with little support. Schmeichel made some superb saves but his distribution was abysmal at times and could easily have led to a goal. Iheanacho looked confident as soon as he came on and immediately provided a foil for Vardy. Albrighton tried manfully as always but ran out of steam.
The Europa League match against Napoli is a tough fixture but gives Rodgers the chance to refresh the team with some of the new signings and also to provide the City fans with some much needed cheer and hope for the forthcoming season.
As the so called Top Four continue to splash ridiculous amounts of cash on players it makes City’s winning the Premiership title in 2015/16 even more incredible. I wonder what our next Home League match is – oh no – it’s Manchester United and the Ronaldo show!!
City: Schmeichel; Castagne, Vestergaard (Evans 61), Soyuncu; Albrighton, Ndidi, Tielemans, Bertrand; Maddison (Iheanacho 73), Barnes (Lookman 73); Vardy. Subs (not used): Ward, Ricardo, Amartey, Soumare, Dewsbury-Hall, Daka,
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