LAPSES LEAVE LEGIA IN POLE POSITION

Legia Warsaw 1 City 0

Report by Colin Hall

Leicester City’s first competitive outing on Polish soil resulted in a disappointing defeat, as hosts Legia Warsaw claimed a 1-0 victory to take command of Europa League Group C.

Although the side fielded by Brendan Rodgers was well below full strength, the players on display had more than enough experience and capability to secure a crucial victory.

But, not for the first time in this campaign, too many players fell considerably short of expectations, and a spirited home side were able to see off a late fightback to clinch their second win in what is already proving a more competitive group than City experienced in this competition last season.

In front of a raucous home crowd – far noisier than any witnessed at an English club ground for a very long time – Legia started strongly, with Martins forcing Kasper Schmeichel into an early save.

Despite conceding possession far too frequently, the visitors managed to play themselves into the game, and even managed to create a number of clear chances, though neither Patson Daka or Ayoze Pérez were able to take them.

However, on the half-hour, City fell to another of the defensive blunders that have too often blighted their season to date.

Daniel Amartey looked to have broken up a dangerous Legia attack, but dwelt too long on the ball, allowing Emreli to recover and fire home off a post past a stranded Schmeichel to raise the home supporters’ decibel count even further.

In such a frenzied atmosphere, it would have been easy for the visitors to capitulate completely. City, though, refused to do this and indeed, should have levelled before the break, only for Pérez to snatch a shot wide when sent clear by Daka.

The Spaniard was more accurate soon after the resumption, finding the net after a corner by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, but referee Bebek had already blown for an infringement that was not immediately apparent to the visiting contingent.

Legia spent long spells content to park the bus in defence of their lead, with City struggling to find the creative spark required to unlock the massed home defence.

Yet another chance went begging, though, in the 65th minute when Jannik Vestergaard, who had another uncertain evening at the centre of the City defence, met another corner just four yards out, but directed the ball straight at home keeper Miszta.

Rodgers brought on a succession of England internationals in the closing stages, yet none were able to make the vital breakthrough, although James Maddison, showing a vigour not always apparent in recent appearances, came closest with a scrambled effort cleared off the line by the Legia defence.

At the other end, the home side twice wasted opportunities in the closing scenes to increase their advantage, with sub Kastrati having a shot turned onto a post, and then teeing up Pekhart to blaze over.

The final whistle was greeted with predictable euphoria in the home areas of the Polish Army Stadium, celebrating only Legia’s second-ever victory against English opposition, though news of Napoli’s surprise home defeat against Spartak Moscow slightly reduced the damage to City caused by this result.

Nevertheless, Rodgers has some difficult decisions to make before the forthcoming double-header with Spartak. He may well have to rethink his policy of rotating the squad in order to achieve the results needed to secure progress in the competition.

Meanwhile the Polish police went to extraordinary lengths to prevent the unpleasant scenes that had marred the aftermath of City’s previous tie against Napoli.

The 800 or so members of the Blue Army that had braved the journey to Poland were kept well segregated from home fans throughout the game, denied exit from the stadium for over an hour afterwards, and then penned in a cordon on a street outside pending the arrival of taxis to collect them. As a result this writer, whose journey from hotel to ground took just a 15-minute walk, was delayed for nearly two hours in making the return trip.

But while the general mood among travelling fans was subdued, it was far from despondent. The damage caused during the first two games is far from irretrievable, though a significant improvement in individual and collective form will be needed to repair it.

Legia Warsaw (3-5-1-1): Miszta; Jedrzejczyk, Wieteska, Nawrocki; Johansson (Abu Hanna 78), Slisz, Kharatin, Martins (Kastrati 70) Mladenovic; Pesqueira (Guimarães Lopes 83); Emreli (Pekhart 84).
Substitutes not used:
Holownia, Ribeiro, Celhaka, Muci, Skibicki, Rose, Kostorz, Tobiasz.

Goal: Emreli 31

Booked: Mladenovic, Pesqueira, Emreli, Pekhart.

Leicester (3-1-4-2): Schmeichel; Amartey (Lookman 78), Vestergaard, Söyüncü; Tielemans; Castagne, Soumaré, Dewsbury-Hall (Maddison 67), Thomas; Pérez (Barnes 67), Daka (Vardy 82).
Substitutes not used:
Bertrand, Albrighton, Ward, Choudhury, Ricardo, Benkovic, Jakupovic.

Booked: Thomas, Maddison.

Referee: Ivan Bebek (Croatia).

Attendance: 27 087

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

Below par City let victory slip

Crystal Palace 2- Leicester City 2

Report by Chris Griffin

Before the game Brendan Rodgers spoke of experiencing the first bump in the road since his appointment. After the game he acknowledged: “We are not playing up to our level.” Most – even all – City fans will agree. Today’s side – despite the absentees– should be achieving better. Although winning a point City were out-tackled, outrun and out-passed by a high energy Palace side.

City brought in Castagne, Iheanacho and Choudhury for Ricardo, Maddison and the injured Ndidi. Tielemans and Choudhury were the middle two and even before the game some fans had concerns that Palace’s midfield of three might contain one too many for our midfield of two.

But City nearly made a flying start. In the first minute a superb Tielemans free kick from the right found Vardy unmarked on the six yard line. The striker made only a glancing contact with the ball and instead of bulging the net the ball was cleared at Palace’s far post. Palace hit back. A Vestergaard tackle saw the ball rebound to Edouard whose shot rebounded off Bertrand towards goal. Schmeichel quickly pounced on the ball and the danger passed.

City had another chance through a free kick after Guehi had clattered Barnes. This time Tielemans’ free kick found Vestergaard unmarked in the box but he failed to make a strong contact. Palace countered following a misplaced Tielemans pass. Zaha and Gallagher shot hard but Schmeichel used his feet to save both. The pattern of the game clearly favoured Palace. City were giving the ball away too often. The players were slow to move the ball or to find space so they could receive a pass.

When they did have some possession there was little togetherness. The players were not on the same wavelength. Choudhury rolled a gentle pass towards the touchline where he clearly thought Lookman would be. The ball rolled out for a Palace throw with Lookman ten yards upfield.

Meanwhile Palace sustained the pressure and their pressing in midfield was giving them lots of possession and opportunities. A fast break from Zaha saw the ball reach Ayew but fortunately his pull back across the six-yard box missed his team mates. City were not looking comfortable. Bertrand received a yellow for unnecessarily pulling Ayew back. City were proving their worst enemy, too often passing to players already tightly marked and easily closed down.

Then in the 32nd minute, against all the play and all expectations, City took the lead. This time Palace were guilty of self-inflicted wounds – or at least centre back Andersen was as he dallied on the ball 30 yards out with no cover behind him. Iheanacho was on him in an instant, won the ball and bore down on goal. He took the chance with great coolness and accuracy, carefully curling the ball around the advancing keeper.

This energised City and Lookman soon had a chance to shoot from outside the area but his effort lacked power. But in the 38th minute City poached another. A delightful forward dinked pass in midfield by Tielemans sent Barnes goalward. Before he reached the penalty area he slipped a pass left to the unmarked Vardy who advanced into the box and drove the ball home at the near post. City fans were jubilant although maybe a little surprised.

Palace responded and Gallagher drove a left foot effort over the bar. Schmeichel also held an Ayew cross shot safely. Before the break there was just time for Iheanacho to give a masterclass on how to hold up the ball and keep possession despite the aggressive attention of three opponents.

The second half began with referee Taylor awarding a harsh yellow card to Tielemans after a superbly timed and controlled tackle. City then broke down the Palace right and Vardy had a chance to shoot across goal but his effort was too near keeper Guaita. Then superb play by Iheanacho saw him control the ball, shrug off defenders and play Barnes in down the City left. Sadly the winger’s effort lacked direction and power merely hitting the side netting. Had either of those early second half opportunities been taken the game might well have had a different outcome.

Palace certainly were not giving up. Ayew drove a shot wide. A misplaced Barnes pass saw the ball reach Zaha who shot over the bar. Edouard blasted the ball against the crossbar and then put another chance in the side-netting having been played in by Zaha. Palace were totally dominant with City well and truly stuck on the back foot.

In the 53rd minute Palace coach Vieira replaced Ayew with Orise. It proved a good move. Palace kept sweeping forward with Leicester incapable of keeping the ball or exerting some control on the game. The defence kept clearing but the ball kept coming back.

Soumare came on for Choudhury and settled into the holding midfield role he had fulfilled at Lille last season when they won the French title. Palace kept up the pressure. An excellent run and dribble by left back Mitchell led to the ball being played dangerously into the Leicester box. The ball fell to Orise who shot twice –  his second effort flashing into the net giving Schmeichel no chance.

City countered and Barnes won a corner. There was some controversy when at the corner Andersen climbed all over Vardy’s back but neither referee Taylor or VAR were interested. As they say: “Seen ‘em given.” Taylor was not endearing himself to City fans. Ward barged Barnes over the touchline but the referee showed little interest in giving a free kick to Leicester or a card to the Palace man.

Palace continued on top which made it puzzling for many fans that Iheanacho was substituted in the 71st minute. He had been the only Leicester player who showed any sign of being able to control and hold the ball under pressure and – as he had shown – he can always get us a goal. Maddison replaced him and soon had half a chance shooting straight at the keeper.

Meanwhile ex Fox Jeff Schlupp had come on for Gallagher. He had been on the pitch for 48 seconds when he pounced on a loose ball in the City area to head home past the stranded Schmeichel. The immutable law of the Ex had made City suffer.

Albrighton came on for Lookman. Play came to a halt after a McArthur challenge on Vardy which looked as if the Palace man’s elbow had crunched into Vardy’s chest. To be fair to McArthur he signalled the need for medical attention immediately and both the Leicester and Palace medics treated the Leicester man on the pitch.

Palace were going for the win. Good defensive work by Bertrand stopped Schlupp from shooting then Schlupp’s header grazed the post.  An Orise effort was headed clear by Vestergaard.

City finished with a corner in the last minute of overtime but the ball sailed over the heads of attackers and defenders. A 2-0 lead had turned into holding on for a 2-2 draw.

The best that can be said is that somehow we stayed in the game. But it is four Premier league games without a win. As one fan said: “We seem to be less than the sum of our parts.” Manchester United at home is the next Premier game. Now that would be a good match in which to find our best form.

Crystal Palace: Guaita; Ward; Andersen; Guehi; Mitchell; Gallagher (Schlupp); Milovojevic; McArthur; Ayew (Orise); Edouard; Zaha.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Castagne; Soyuncu; Vestergaard; Bertrand; Lookman (Albrighton); Tielemans; Choudhury (Soumare); Barnes; Iheanacho (Maddison); Vardy

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

Went To Warsaw ? – We Want Your Views !

Football Supporters Europe (FSE) will be monitoring the conditions for away fans in European competitions.

Travelling fans are therefore invited to complete the 2021-22 Away Fans Survey after every European away match they attend.

Fans are asked to provide information on a wide range of subjects, including travel arrangements, ticketing, allocation, policing and stewarding, catering, and so on.

By completing the survey, you help the FSE collect hard, reliable data, which will inform their future policy.

FSE will evaluate the data to offer a clear picture of the situation across the entire UEFA region and to liaise with the football authorities on possible improvements.

Light up for Luke’s Law Walk – This Saturday

Since our formation the Foxes Trust has had a policy of refusing any sponsorship or paid for advertising on our website from companies who offer any sort of gambling/betting services.

We were saddened to hear of the case of Luke Ashton, a massive Leicester City fan who took his life earlier this year as a result of his gambling disorder. Since Luke’s death, his wife Annie has tirelessly campaigned to end so-called ‘Free Bets’, which were clearly a contributing factor in Luke’s addiction. Annie has launched a petition, called Luke’s Law #Lukeslaw https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/587806

Annie has organised an event this weekend as she explains:

We have decided to organise a 5K walk ‘Light Up for Luke’s Law’ *route to be confirmed* to help gain signatures on #Luke’sLaw petition as well as also give us an opportunity to raise money for the ‘Gambling with Lives’ charity who have been an absolute life line for me and my family at this very difficult time.

The event will involve a 5K walk wearing the brightest colours (t- shirts can be purchased closer to the day, if preferred) and Glow sticks/lights/neon face paint/glitter/anything bright that will draw attention to us on our mission to raise awareness and of course gain important signatures for our petition.

The event will be held on 2nd October, which is Luke Ashton’s birthday, and will therefore be a very special day for us. We will be finishing the event with a get together at Newfoundpool Working Men’s Club to mark the occasion with a Light Up for Luke’s Law drink event. We will be requesting a small ticket donation of £10 (children are free) for the event where you will also receive a #Luke’sLaw TShirt.

Anyone can join in with the fundraising, can walk the 5K or donate money to a gofund page which will be set up to send any money raised directly to the charity, ‘Gambling with Lives’ on our behalf.

**The 5k walk will start Leicester Town Hall at 4pm and will involve walking passed the King Power stadium and eventually end at the venue.

Gambling with Lives is a charity that was set up by loved ones of people who took their life as a direct result of gambling

A specific campaign The Big Step has been launched to end gambling advertising and sponsorship in football and work with clubs to reduce harms

HAS THE BUBBLE BURST FOR CITY?

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