The stats tell the story. City had 65% possession; seven shots on target against Villa’s one; and nine corners against Villa’s none. After an opening ten minutes in which Villa threatened a little, City drew their opponents’ sting and ran the game. This was a welcome performance, far more in keeping with the team’s autumn form. After only 12 points from the last 12 games this was a much-needed display to boost the confidence of both players and fans. The early season high tempo intensity – both in and out of possession – was clearly restored.
Brendan Rodgers retained Albrighton, brought in Justin for the injured Chilwell and started with Perez, Tielemans and Vardy on the bench – each one a first choice earlier in the season. After an uneventful opening Villa showed signs of pushing forward. Grealish played Targett in but Hourihane miskicked the full back’s cross. Then Hourihane’s excellent free kick reached Samatta at the far post but he could not stop the ball rebounding harmlessly off his leg for a goal kick.
City started to secure a foothold. A good move down the left saw Justin cross into the box but Reina cut it out. Then a beautiful ball from Praet sent Iheanacho through and he panicked Engels into sending a header dangerously close to an own goal. From the ensuing Maddison corner Evans had a free header but sent it directly at Reina who clung on gratefully. Barnes and Justin then combined and Mings shepherded the ball out for a corner from which Soyuncu headed over the bar.
The fans quickly came to life when Ndidi dispossessed Grealish and won a free kick at the same time. Justin burst into the area and was tackled from behind by Guilbert who just about had enough of a touch on the ball to make the tackle legal. Praet sent over an excellent cross but there was no one in the six-yard box to apply the finish. The impressive Justin crossed again and Engels headed clear for a corner. Then Maddison executed a superb cut back for Barnes but the young winger delayed his shot and the chance was gone.
City were laying siege to the Villa penalty area. Following a free kick Pereira sent in a superb in-swinging cross from the left. Iheanacho sent his header wide with Reina well beaten.
Some fans were beginning to be a little edgy as to whether a
goal would come but Barnes put their minds at rest with his fourth goal in his
last seven Premier League games. Leicester cleared their lines and Praet passed
to Iheanacho who passed to Albrighton. The winger sent an excellent ball into
the Villa half in the outside left channel. Barnes collected it before the
on-rushing Reina could. He pushed the ball round the keeper and then drove a
fierce low shot past three defenders into the corner of the net: a very
Leicester continued to press. Hourihane received a yellow card for pulling back Pereira. Mings, Guilbert and Engels headed clear in quick succession as the crosses rained into the Villa area. In a rare moment Samatta took advantage of a Soyuncu error but the Leicester centre back remained calm and took back possession. Half-time came with City one up and probably thinking it should have been more.
The second half started with City on attack. Justin headed
Reina’s clearance back into space for Iheanacho to run onto. The striker
swerved into the penalty area but his shot lacked accuracy, allowing Reina to
save. Following a foul on Justin, Maddison’s excellent free kick found Evans
whose header flashed past the post. Eventually Villa had a shot of their own
but Hourihane’s effort flew high and wide passed Schmeichel’s goal.
The ever-aggressive Barnes intercepted the ball and played in Maddison whose pass found Iheanacho right in front of goal. Sadly, the striker’s first touch was too heavy and the chance was gone. That was Iheanacho’s last piece of action. Vardy came on to a thunderous welcome, while Iheanacho was applauded for his excellent hold up play despite the missed chances.
Vardy was nearly on the score sheet immediately following a
ball into the box which Reina reached first. Then Justin fed Barnes. The winger
cut into the box and his cross to the far post was intercepted by the falling
Mings. Referee Oliver gave a penalty for hand ball by the Villa player. VAR
supported this though some Villa fans will no doubt feel the contact was
shoulder rather than arm. Nevertheless, Vardy found his first kick of the match
to be a penalty, which he drove down the middle of the goal as Reina dived away
to the left.
At 2-0 City eased a little and both Praet and Evans
collected yellow cards as the visitors pushed forward. Praet was replaced by
Tielemans, leaving some fans wondering why the excellent Praet seldom seems to
have a full 90 minutes. Even so, City went back onto the front foot. Two great
left wing runs by Barnes turned the Villa defence but he overhit his cross both
times. Schmeichel made his first save in the 78th minute from a
City soon increased their lead. Terrific work by Evans
outside his own box saw the ball played to Barnes. His run gave the team a forward
momentum and he found Vardy in space. The striker cut into the Villa box and
attempted a cut back that was blocked. Vardy collected the loose ball and fired
it into the goal at the near post. Make no mistake, Jamie is back.
City kept pressing. Maddison’s shot was deflected for a
corner. Then came the best goal of the night. Barnes was perfectly placed to
sweep in an excellent Albrighton cut-back after a one and two touch passing
sequence involving Tielemans, Mendy, Pereira, Tielemans again and Maddison.
When City play football of such quality it really is a joy.
Another scintillating passing move in extra time saw
Albrighton set up in space for a close-range shot but he fired wide. Never
mind: City had been a pleasure to watch. Each player played his part. But there
has to be a special word for Barnes: two goals and two assists. All credit goes
Brendan Rodgers was obviously delighted with his
players. “It was a very, very good win. An important win.
The past few games we haven’t been at our level. In terms of attacking, we were
much better this evening. After the first goal we went on and played very well.
We want to win and early on you could see our confidence wasn’t where it has
been. The only way you regain that confidence is hard work and these players
have been brilliant. Tonight, the intensity was there and we didn’t give away
Let’s face it – even diehard City fans were not too optimistic before this match based on recent performances. The Norwich match had been a great disappointment and VAR had not been on our side in either that match or in the defeat against Manchester City. The FA Cup provided a great opportunity for the team to get back on a winning track and for some of our players who had lost their form in the early part of the season to regain their energy.
Rodgers picked a strong side (please note Claude Puel!). Vardy was missing with yet another muscle injury and we hoped that he soon can come back to lead the line as only he can do. Albrighton and Gray were selected on the wings. Otherwise the side was the same as against Norwich.
It is fair to say that the first half was a great disappointment. Birmingham’s defensive shape was good, with their players stronger and taller than City’s, and our play was ponderous and predictable. All too often the safe pass was made instead of the one touch movement forward which highlighted our early form this season. What is the point of 80 per cent possession if it is backwards and sidewards only and creating no chances?
City’s midfield players were frequently knocked off the ball and the final pass close to the penalty box was poor. Birmingham broke forward on the counter attack quickly and looked dangerous without creating clear chances. Corners and free kicks seemed their best chance of a goal.
After a dour 0-0 first half City upped the pace, won more second balls and passed better. The crowd responded with encouragement. The hard working Albrighton and Ricardo started to link better and move into attacking positions.
However, on the left, there was much less creativity as Gray continued to have one of those games he has sadly become known for – poor control, knocked off the ball, poor passes, no crosses from the by line and no shots (you will guess I am not his greatest fan!). Consequently, the potential link up with Chilwell was not working.
In the middle Praet, my man of the match, was emerging as the driving force and linking up with Ndidi. Maddison played in fits and starts but started to become more prominent. Johnny Evans missed the first good chance, heading over the bar when seemingly clear of his marker. Iheanacho had a shot saved and Maddison drove forward but his rising shot clipped the top of the bar. Tielemans came on for Ndidi and Barnes for the disappointing Gray.
The link up with Barnes and Chilwell than started to make a difference. Just as we thought extra time and penalties looked likely Chilwell stormed forward. His cross evaded everyone in the centre. Albrighton bamboozled the defence with a lovely cross into the middle and Ricardo headed into the corner of the goal past Camp, despite being closely marked by a taller defender. I have no idea why Ricardo was in the centre at the time but just as well he was. It was a good goal and with only eight minutes to go until full time City played the possession game.
however, allowed themselves to be pushed back. Birmingham belatedly pressured
the defence and last-minute panic set in, culminating in Chilwell blocking a
shot close to the goal line. Soon after John Moss signalled full time and we
all breathed a sigh of relief as we went through into the quarter finals
(against Chelsea we learned later). City deserved to win, even though they won
“ugly”, but there are still areas for improvement. Maddison, Gray, Iheanacho,
Albrighton and Chilwell in the first half were all below par and too few
chances were created.
Villa match at the King Power looms closer. Let’s hope that this win enables
City to surge towards the end of the season, and hopefully a Champions League
spot, with renewed vigour.
City crashed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Premier League bottom club Norwich
on a rainy, windswept evening at Carrow Road.
The result completed a miserable month in which the Foxes managed just TWO points from a possible 12.
Brendan Rodgers’ side remains in third place, there seems little confidence or
expectation within the fanbase that such a position will be maintained for much
many recent displays, including this one, have seen City perform far closer to
Championship standards than Champions League ones.
As the Blue Army arrived in Norfolk, they were greeted by mixed team news. Jamie Vardy was absent with what Rodgers described as a “calf injury” but Kelechi Iheanacho was declared fit after recovering from the knock which had curtailed his involvement in the previous fixture.
Hamza Choudhury returned from suspension to replace Youri Tielemans, while
Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes came in for Vardy and Christian Fuchs.
The visitors began the match in confident mood, with James Maddison particularly prominent against his former club. Indeed, he created the first clear chance of the night, with a pinpoint corner which Choudhury could only head wastefully over.
the Foxes continued to make superior quality tell during the rest of the first
half – except, crucially, in the home penalty area.
A Dennis Praet effort struck the outside of a post, while Iheanacho blazed over from close range after wrongfooting the home defence.
At the other end, Jonny Evans and Caglar Söyüncü dealt comfortably with sporadic raids from a home attack which had failed to find the net from open play since New Year’s Day.
It looked a question of when, rather than if, the Foxes
would take the lead, and the visitors thought that moment had arrived early in
the second half.
Iheanacho won a tussle with home defender Godfrey before
firing home a fine 20-yard drive.
However, as so often in recent games, the verdict in the VAR
studio went against Leicester, and the goal was disallowed.
Despite extensive efforts by the Sky TV commentators to persuade us otherwise, replays showed it was far from clear whether Iheanacho’s hand had been the one to strike the ball.
And given the fact that neither the referee nor his
assistant saw any offence occur, the grounds for intervention appeared
Sadly, when the team needed resilience, character and leadership to deal with this setback, none of these qualities were forthcoming. Heads dropped, rhythm disappeared, and the hosts were allowed a foothold back into the game.
Kasper Schmeichel, hitherto rarely troubled, was forced to turn away two fierce efforts from Duda as the Canaries grew in confidence.
But the City skipper was left helpless as home left-back Lewis found the net with an angled left-foot drive from the edge of the area with 20 minutes remaining.
Despite the introduction of Tielemans, Wilfrid Ndidi and Marc Albrighton from the bench, the visitors rarely threatened the home goal in the closing stages. Indeed, only action from Schmeichel prevented Norwich sub Drmic from increasing the margin of defeat.
The home fans greeted the final whistle as if it heralded a
trophy win, although subsequent results over the weekend would actually leave
them further from safety than they were before this match.
As Rodgers acknowledged after the game, the Foxes need to
recover form very quickly in order to prevent our season from becoming
With three of the next four games at home, there will be
ample opportunities for that to happen. It is to be hoped that the manager and
his side will prove capable of taking them.
is well signposted from the A11 and A47. From the southern bypass (A47) take
the A146 into the city. At the traffic lights turn right towards the city
centre on the A1054. At the next roundabout stay in the left-hand lane and
continue towards the city centre along the A147. At the next set of traffic
lights, turn right into King Street. This street as it bends around to the right
and crosses the river becomes Carrow Road, the ground is further down on the
If you use
the A14 be aware that the road is often closed overnight resulting in lengthy
miles 3 hours travelling.
The best car
park for away fans is Norfolk County Hall, which is well signposted on the left
of the A146, as you follow signs towards the ground from the Southern Bypass. After
the match the car park is well marshalled with two streams of cars exiting it,
so normally you are not held up for too long. County Hall is open for
football parking after 5, costs £6 cash or card according to the car park
Code for Norfolk County Hall,SAT
NAV: NR1 2DH
You are only a few minutes walk from the main shopping areas of Norwich. Around a five minute walk away from Norwich Railway Station and a 15 minute walk away from Carrow Road is the Stadia Bar on Upper King Street. This bar welcomes visiting supporters and shows Sky and BT Sports on over 20 screens (see advert below). There is also the Waterfront on King Street. This live music venue/nightclub is now open on matchdays exclusively for away fans.
and Horses on Thorpe Road brews its own beer and is around a 10 minute walk
away from the ground. Also on Thorpe Road is the Fat Cat and Canary. In the
City Centre St Andrews Brewhouse brews its own range of beers and ciders.
Carrow Road is located around 15 minute walk from #Norwich Station and is well signposted. Trains take approx 3 hours mins off peak return £67-50 but you cannot get back the same evening.
Please check the cost and times of trains etc. All information is provided in good faith but the Foxes Trust cannot be held responsible for any errors. Thanks to the Football Ground Guide.