LEICESTER CITY 2 BURNLEY 2
Match Report by Paul Weston
Matches against Burnley are never games to look forward to. The ball is in the air too often and the City players are usually bullied by Burnley. However, this time Burnley came to the King Power with no wins so far. Surely City could fashion a win, even taking account of their own indifferent start to the season?
It was a surprise to see that Rodgers had left Evans on the bench after he had played 90 minutes against Millwall. That resulted in a back line of Vestergaard, Soyuncu, Ricardo and Bertrand. Soumare came into midfield and Lookman and Barnes were there to provide the support for Vardy.
City started well with Barnes prominent on the left. However City’s intricate play usually broke down when faced with Burnley’s well drilled defence. Burnley broke forward more quickly and after only five minutes Vestergaard was booked for the first of many clumsy attempts to win the ball from either Vydra or Wood.
This set the pattern of play for a while. City had the majority of possession but created few clear chances but Burnley looked dangerous each time they came forward. Our defence, and particularly Vestergaard, looked fragile. City should have scored soon afterwards though when Vardy headed into the ground and over the bar from a pin-point cross from Tielemans. Disaster soon followed when, from one of many in-swinging dangerous corners from Burnley, the ball glanced off Vardy’s head for an own goal.
After a good block from Lowton to a Vardy shot it was a relief when Vardy scored in the correct net when put through by Tielemans. It was a typical Vardy goal and he was not shy in responding to the Burnley fans!
However, just as we thought normal service had resumed, Vestergaard did not deal with Vydra yet again and his cross was skilfully volleyed in by Cornet with Ricardo at fault for not closing him down.
Castagne was brought on for Ricardo at the start of the second half. To be honest any of the defenders could have been replaced, such was their woeful collective performance. City upped their game in the second half but still the accuracy of passing was poor and Burnley continued to look dangerous and could carve through our defence too easily. City won a succession of corners but they were all too predictable and created nothing. What do they practise on the training pitch?
Lookman, who had been a rare shining light throughout and was always pressing forward, was replaced by Maddison with time drifting away, presumably because he was running out of steam but it was not obvious. This would be the first time that a Rodgers decision would have been greeted with boos from the frustrated fans, especially because Lookman was replaced by Maddison who made little impression on the game.
Iheanacho came on and, with five minutes to go, threaded the ball through for Vardy to round the goalkeeper and score with great skill. 2-2 and the fans prompted the team to try and get all three points and rescue the game. However, it nearly went all wrong when in the final minutes and from yet another defensive mess, Wood scored to apparently snatch all three points. Thankfully VAR intervened in City’s favour for once and the match ended 2-2 which was a fair result.
This match feels like a watershed moment in City’s stuttering start to the season. When Fofana suffered a broken leg and Evans injury problems continued it felt like our season was blighted before it had started and so it has transpired. Vestergaard for one so tall, is weak in the air and easily manoeuvred off the ball. His passing is not good either. Bertrand does not look good enough and not an improvement on Luke Thomas. James Justin’s return cannot come soon enough. Neither Vestergaard or Bertrand appear to be good enough if we aspire to get into the top four.
Soyuncu needs a calm player alongside him and Vestergaard does not provide that assurance. Ricardo, whilst looking dangerous up front, was caught out many times in defence. Behind this jittery defence Schmeichel had one of those games when his distribution was quite dreadful and often handed the initiative straight to Burnley.
In midfield Soumare played in fits and starts and it always seemed to be left to Tielemans to play the killer ball. Barnes faded after Burnley marked him with two players and he seemed to lose confidence in beating his man. Iheanacho made a difference when he came on and looks to be a man playing with confidence, yet somehow we cannot seem to find a place for him in the side from the beginning.
On this showing this season is not looking at all encouraging, compared to the last two seasons, and the fans’ frustration was fairly vocal. Expectations are higher than they have ever been. Rodgers has a big job in front of him to improve performances whilst injured players come back. Away wins at Warsaw and Palace would be a good start!
Leicester – Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira (Castagne 46), Soyuncu, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Tielemans, Ndidi, Soumare (Iheanacho 62), Lookman (Maddison 78), Vardy, Barnes.
Burnley – Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, McNeil (Lennon 87), Westwood, Brownhill, Cornet (Gudmundson 45+2)), Wood, Vydra (Barnes 75)
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