LEICESTER CITY 0 ARSENAL 2
Match Report by Paul Weston
The match started at 12.30 p.m. which always seems too early for football. Brendan Rodgers not unexpectedly picked the same side that had started in the lively display against Man Utd. We expected the fast pressing start to the game which brought so much success against the Red Devils.
Instead City players from the start looked half asleep, losing possession easily and nearly gifting an own goal in the first few minutes. It did not take long for Gabriel to score from a corner. Who was supposed to mark him? Why are we so awful at defending corners and so inept at scoring from them?
The City players seemed shell shocked, passive and quickly played into Arsenal’s hands – passing sideways and backwards ad nauseam and allowing Arsenal to press back until the ball was gifted back. Arsenal broke quickly and too easily through midfield with few tackles from City’s midfield. It did not take long for Arsenal to score their second goal through Smith-Rowe after a complete mess in City’s defence yet again when the ball should have been cleared.
And so the first half continued with City fans expressing their annoyance at the tepid display. From a rare City attack Iheanacho had a left footed shot turned away by Ramsdale and then, just at the end of the first half, Ramsdale brought off a stunning save from a Maddison free kick and then stopped the follow up shot from Evans. A goal just before half time would have given a boost to the team but, to be fair, the 2-0 scoreline accurately reflected the superiority of Arsenal’s play.
It would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall of City’s dressing room at half time. Rodgers went to a different formation immediately from the start of the second half. Amartey and Iheanacho were hauled off and replaced by Barnes and Lookman. Amartey had looked jittery with the ball throughout the whole of the first half. Iheanacho had one of those games when he just could not control the ball.
City pressed forward immediately with both Lookman and Barnes threatening. The game then became the “Aaron Ramsdale versus City” show as pressure grew and he brought off saves from Lookman, Barnes and Thomas, whilst Vardy and Barnes again should have done much better with headers when well placed. It could easily have been 2-2 but Arsenal continued to frustrate by fair means or foul, and most of the time Michael Oliver indulged them but awarding free kicks when play acting clearly was taking place, much to City’s annoyance.
The game lost momentum as the end came closer and, as the crowds drifted away it seemed that the team had lost either heart or ideas, despite cajoling by Schmeichel.
It was a frustrating and deeply disappointing display, especially as we felt that, after recent games, our season had really started at last. So what did we learn from the match?
- Rodgers, for some reason, cannot get his message across to the players to press from the start.
- Until we get our defence sorted out we will have an average season. Waiting for Justin and Fofana to be fit again could take some time.
- Amartey is a good squad player but is unable or scared to play a good forward pass.
- Thomas still has a lot to learn and is too easily knocked off the ball.
- We really miss Ndidi who protects the defence.
- We really miss Ricardo’s drive and movement.
- Maddison wastes too much time taking corners.
- We need to practice scoring from corners!
- We need to practice defending corners!
- No-one, apart from Lookman and Barnes, played to their potential
It probably is just as well that another match, against Spartak Moscow, comes soon on Thursday, which City needs to win and get this defeat out of their system. It will be very interesting to see how many players are given a second chance and, most importantly, can we start the game well?
Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey (Barnes 46), Evans, Soyuncu, Castagne, Tielemans, Soumare, Thomas, Maddison (Daka 71), Iheanacho (Lookman 46), Vardy. Subs not used: Bertrand, Ward, Choudhury, Dewsbury-Hall, Vestergaard, Ndidi.
Booked: Evans, Vardy.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Saka (Pepe 85), Thomas, Sambi Lokonga, Smith Rowe (Kolasinac 90), Lacazette (Odegaard 58), Aubameyang.Subs not used: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Cedric, Elneny, Martinelli.
Goals: Gabriel 5, Smith Rowe 18.
Referee: Michael Oliver Attendance: 32,209
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