Of steam and smoke

Leicester City 3 – 1 Legia Warsaw

Report by Stuart Dawkins

Let’s start with the football.  This was an important game for City in this so-far fairly patchy season and they handled it well, looking comfortable throughout.  The TIFO banner unveiled before kick-off urged a clear direction: “From the whistle – full steam ahead”.  Nicely drafted, as both a generic call to arms but also noting the sluggish way the team has begun so many games recently. 

Whether it had any influence on the players is hard to prove, but the course of the first half was certainly more that of a runaway engine than an oft-stopping sleeper.  City’s first chance came in 15 seconds, Legia’s first came 15 seconds later – and there was not that much let-up throughout a first half that saw four goals scored and several more chances created for either side.

Evans had a minor injury in the warm-up, so there was a last-minute swap to Söyüncü and Amartey at the back for City, together with Castagne and Thomas. Barnes and Lookman flanked Daka up front, with Soumaré, Ndidi and Maddison in midfield.

City not only started brightly, but also got the goals to show for it. A combination of tenacity and a tiny bit of luck enabled Barnes to get the ball to Daka in the box after ten minutes. Daka is an accomplished finisher and there was little doubt he would be able to score from there, which he did with a nicely placed shot – making him the Club’s highest-ever goal-scorer in Europe with five goals. 

And just ten minutes later, good work on the City right-wide led to Maddison getting the ball ten-yards out with his back to the goal. He looked to have missed the chance to shoot with his favoured right-foot but turned and created enough space to place an unstoppable shot past the Legia ‘keeper with his left.

Whilst Legia had created a couple of chances themselves, from very limited possession, the two-nil score and the flow of the play suggested that the game might prove to be more straightforward than some had feared for City.  That view was tempered a bit when Legia pulled a goal back, from pretty much nothing. Their left-winger got behind Leicester’s defence, sent in a speculative cross and what happened next was not at all clear ‘live’ in the ground, but the ball hit Ndidi’s arm and there were no real complaints from City players when a penalty was given.  Schmeichel saved the spot-kick, but Mladenovic reacted quickest to poke the rebound into the goal, colliding with the goalpost in doing so.

Whilst the goal lifted the tempo of the Legia players, but City responded with that rarity: a goal from a Leicester corner. Maddison crossed it and Ndidi jumped high and well from an unmarked position to head it past a flailing goalkeeper.

A two-goal cushion re-established, the rest of the half – indeed pretty much the rest of the game – settled into a pattern with City looking the better team but with Legia frequently sharp going forwards; City had the most positive and creative play, but Legia kept popping up with half-chances on a fairly regular basis.

The second half was a quieter affair than the first, on the pitch at least.  A further goal by the visitors might have made things nervy for City, but that did not happen, and the home team kept up steady pressure that could easily have led to more goals, but did not.  Legia made the full quota of five substitutions, but to no real affect. 

Around the hour mark, Rodgers replaced Soumaré and Maddison with Dewsbury-Hall and Pérez.  Maddison had his liveliest and most positive game for some time. He seemed to line up in a slightly more advanced position than usual, was keen to get the ball throughout and generally used it well.  It had not been one of Soumaré’s better games. He has looked a little slower than usual in the past couple of matches, and the chance to rest him after sixty-minutes would have been welcome. 

For the last five-minutes, Rodgers replaced Lookman and Daka with Albrighton and Iheanacho. Lookman had chased and harried well but had not always been great with his choice of pass.  Daka had played – for want of a better cliché – a Vardy-like performance.  Not in the game too much but always a threat, did what he did well and finished his one clear-cut chance with ease.

Legia played out the final few minutes with ten players, as a strong but fair challenge left their striker unable to continue with all substitutions made.

It was a comfortable and well-deserved win for City. Each player made a decent contribution, chances were created and silly mistakes were at a minimum – hopefully such habits can be carried into the next few matches!

Now, the not-football.  There was a noticeably heavy police presence around the ground before kick-off – thankfully a rarity these days.  The Legia fans were lively and noisy throughout, no bad thing at all and leading to a good atmosphere for much of the match.  On the hour mark, however, around 40 or 50 red flares were lit in the Away fans section, and dozens of Legia fans attempted to climb over the covered seats separating them from City fans. 

This resulted in a pitched battle with a line of police which lasted quite some time, with smoke from the flares floating across the pitch for a good five or ten minutes.  There is simply no excuse for that behaviour.  It felt like something from another age.  The only positives to pull from it were that the police handled it in difficult circumstances, and that the home fans were pretty much universally disgusted by it.

The images make it clear that it was away fans who were the instigators, that home fans were not involved and that the police were defending, not in any way encouraging.  One hopes that UEFA see that and make it quite some time before Legia fans can travel to away matches to see their team again. That would be a shame for those genuine fans who simply want to see a game of football, but seems the minimum punishment necessary.

With this result City have leaped from bottom to top of their Europa League Group.  It looked the toughest group in advance, and it has certainly proved unpredictable. An away trip to Napoli is a tricky proposition, but City’s fate is in their own hands, and continuation of some sort in Europe this season is guaranteed.

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Castagne, Amartey, Söyüncü, Thomas, Soumaré, Ndidi, Maddison, Lookman, Daka, Barnes. Subs: Bertrand, Vardy, Albrighton, Iheanacho, Pérez, Choudhury, Dewsbury-Hall, Vestergaard, Stolarczyk, Marcal-Madivadua

Legia Warsaw: Miszta, Johansson, Wieteska, Jedrzejczyk, Ribeiro, Soares Martins, Slisz, Mladenovic, Muci, Emreli, Lima Linhares. Subs: Holownia, Pekhart, Celhaka, Skibicki, Wlodarczyk, Rose, Tobiasz, Ciepiela

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

City Outclassed by Chelsea

Leicester City 0 Chelsea 3 – 20 November 2021

Report by Tish Krokosz

Prior to the match, the good news was that Lukaku was still unavailable for the visitors. The bad news was that Tielemans was in a similar position for City. Brendan Rodgers went for a defensive set-up by including Soumaré and Ndidi in midfield with Albrighton and Castagne acting as wing backs. But who would be creating the attacking moves from midfield?

As the names of the visitors were read out at the start, there was a marked difference in the home crowd’s reaction to Kanté, who was clapped, and Chilwell, who was booed loudly. This continued as the match progressed.

Unfortunately, the crowd’s dissatisfaction with the former City wing back only served to spur him on and in the first Chelsea attack of any note he ran behind the City defence to collect a long ball from a Jorginho free kick and could have scored the opener. Indeed, he should have scored, with only Schmeichel to beat, but the powerful left-footed shot hit the bar and sailed into the crowd.

Once again, City’s three-man defence was finding it difficult to find a way of passing the ball to its midfield and this dithering led to Chelsea pressure on the right wing and a soft corner being gifted to the visitors after thirteen minutes. Fans may remember the corresponding match two years ago when Rüdiger grabbed two goals from corners. With our record of trying to defend such set pieces there was much trepidation about this opportunity and he did not disappoint his fans. He stood in front of Schmeichel as Chilwell placed the ball and ran towards the powerfully taken corner unopposed and flicked a header to the back corner of the goal. This was almost a carbon copy of Gabriel’s goal when Arsenal were here last month. It has been said many times this season – why are City unable to defend at corners?

City’s forays into the Chelsea half were few and far between. However, the fans were on their feet when Lookman knocked in a cross from Albrighton past the diving Mendy. Unfortunately, there was one touch too many from the wing-back before the cross, and, in this time, Lookman had run into an obvious offside position, so the goal was disallowed. An equalizer at this point may have given City some confidence.

Instead, a few minutes later, Kanté picked up the ball on the right-hand side of the field and was allowed to run unopposed to the edge of the penalty area and unleashed a shot with his left foot. It flew past Schmeichel’s left hand giving the League leaders a comfortable two-goal cushion. Soumaré and Ndidi had been picked to form a defensive midfield barrier, yet neither was close to stopping Kanté in his approach. Indeed, his effort and ability throughout the match was greater than the sum of the two City players.

The two-goal cushion nearly became three a few minutes later when Schmeichel was guilty of an unforced error and passed the ball straight to an unmarked yellow Chelsea shirt. Fortunately for the keeper, his defence came to his aid and the danger was snuffed out. This was just one example of City’s inability to clear the ball from defence. The home crowd becomes very jittery when the ball is continuously played between the three defenders and the goalkeeper without there being any attempt to move forward decisively. What has happened to the sight of blue (City) shirts making fast runs forward behind the opposition’s defence line? Why is the build-up so slow?

The half ended with many boos from the crowd as the teams trudged to the dressing room. I thought this was for the seemingly one-sided approach from the referee, who constantly awarded kicks in Chelsea’s favour. However, he received his own boos as he left the pitch. Rodgers was aware that City had been totally dominated in that first half and made two changes at half-time. Barnes and Lookman had been ineffective on the wings and had been unable to feed the ball through to Vardy. It was hoped that Iheanacho would give the City talisman some support and that Maddison could be more creative.

There was a little more aggression and determination as a result of these changes, but even when City managed to get beyond the Chelsea defence, Mendy was dominant in goal. On the hour, he palmed away a powerful drive from Amartey who had picked up a loose ball outside the penalty area. Soon after, Vardy could have reduced the deficit with a header that went over the bar. These cameos were the only bright lights from City and most of the second half belonged to the Londoners.

It had started with a fine save by Schmeichel from a goal bound shot from Chilwell. There was a shot from Hudson-Odoi that went just over the crossbar. Then, in the seventieth minute, Chalobah moved forward from defence and sent a strong ball along the ground to Ziyech, who had come on for Mount. The Chelsea substitute took the ball past Söyüncü too easily and fed it to his fellow substitute, Pulisic, who was unmarked and able to slide the ball under the body of Schmeichel.

By now, the Chelsea fans were in full voice and their chants of being League leaders were ringing around the ground. Their team was able to scythe through the home midfield and defence at will and managed to put the ball into the City net three more times. Fortunately, the offside flag was raised on each occasion, but if these goals had been allowed, it would have shown the dominance that was obvious in this match.

City were relieved to hear the final whistle. They had been outclassed, out-run and out-played by the European champions. The visitors’ performance was of a very high standard and a 3-0 win was not at all flattering. City, on the other hand, need to revive their confidence. They looked lacklustre and several levels below their opponents. The upcoming match against Legia Warsaw will probably involve a different line-up and will be a test of their resolve. It will be a must win match. On current form that will seem like a massive undertaking. Are they up to it?

Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey, Evans, Söyüncü, Albrighton, Ndidi, Soumaré (Dewsbury-Hall 74), Castagne, Lookman (Iheanacho H/T), Barnes (Maddison H/T), Vardy. Subs not used: Ward, Bertrand, Choudhury, Pérez, Vestergaard, Daka

Chelsea: Mendy, Chalobah, Silva, Rüdiger, James, Jorginho (Loftus-Cheek 77), Kanté, Chilwell, Mount (Ziyech 63), Havertz (Pulisic 63),  Hudson-Odoi Subs not used: Arrizabalaga, Alonso, Christensen, Werner, Barkley, Azpilicueta

Referee: P. Tierney                                                          Attendance: 32,192

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

Foxes held as winless run continues

Leeds 1 Leicester 1

Report by Colin Hall

Leicester City were forced to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw at Premier League strugglers Leeds United.

The result means the Foxes have now gone FOUR games without a win in open play, and slipped further away from the top six.

But the point was probably as much as City deserved after a frenzied, error-strewn contest which saw both sides squander a multitude of chances.

Brendan Rodgers gave a clear verdict on the side’s performance in the previous fixture, making five changes to the starting line-up and switching to a more adventurous 4-3-3 formation.

However the hosts had the better of the early exchanges, with Kasper Schmeichel saving from Harrison and Phillips.

Leeds then saw a penalty claim denied when Raphinha went to ground after a clash with Ricardo Perreira, only for the referee – and subsequently the VAR – to rule in the City man’s favour.

The officials made a far more contentious call minutes later, though, as Llorente brought down Jamie Vardy on the edge of the Leeds 18-yard box.

Although Vardy was ruled offside, thus sparing his assailant a potential red card, TV footage clearly showed the ball being played to him by another home defender.

City suffered a further blow when falling behind after 26 minutes, as Schmeichel was beaten by a long range free-kick from Raphinha. The skipper perhaps could have done better with the strike, especially as it bore a close resemblance to Dallas’s goal for the hosts at this venue last season.

Yet, within seconds of the resumption, the visitors pulled level. A long ball by Jonny Evans was flicked on by Boubakary Soumaré, and Harvey Barnes cut in from the left to find the net for the fourth successive game in which he has played against these opponents. Remarkably, it was the fourth time in recent weeks where the Foxes have scored within a minute of a restart.

As both sides continued to trade blows, Youri Tielemans twice came close to giving the visitors the lead, lifting one chance over the bar after being sent through by Ademola Lookman, and then drilling a shot just wide early in the second half.

But the Foxes’ continuing vulnerability at set pieces should have been punished shortly afterwards when Harrison, left unmarked at the far post at a corner, somehow managed to knock the ball over a gaping goal from close range.

Nevertheless, the home side built up a head of steam for a while, creating a series of chances which a more potent strikeforce might have made better use of.

Midway through the half, City thought they had struck a crucial blow when Vardy nodded a Tielemans corner for Lookman to fire home and spark wild celebrations among the travelling contingent. However, the visitors’ joy was curtailed when, following extensive deliberations, a VAR review ruled the Leipzig loanee offside.

Tielemans, enduring a frustrating afternoon, then saw another opportunity go begging with a needless extra touch which allowed home keeper Meslier to block his shot. The Belgian’s woes, and those of his team, deepened further when a calf injury forced him to leave the field.

With Lookman and Barnes also being withdrawn, in favour of more defensive replacements rather than strikers, the City boss made his limited ambitions clear.

His side were able to achieve the aim of preserving the point, although not without a couple of late scares. Sub Dan Amartey handled in his own box, prompting another referral to the VAR, but this time the ruling went City’s way, as contact was adjudged to be accidental. Then Raphinha nearly snatched a late winner with a 20-yard rocket which flew just over Schmeichel’s bar.

Once again, City players performed, both individually and collectively, at a level some distance below that they have regularly displayed during Rodgers’ time at the club. The fluency and rhythm that have been evident in so many impressive performances, especially away from home, continue to prove elusive during the current campaign. Could ongoing speculation on the future of key players, and indeed that of Rodgers himself, be affecting the squad’s morale?

It is to be hoped that the missing spark can be located during the international break, particularly given the number of crucial fixtures which loom during the weeks ahead.

Leeds (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Dallas, Llorente, Cooper, Struijk; Phillips, Forshaw (Cresswell 90); Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison (Roberts 83); James. Subs not used: Klaesson, Bate, Hjelde, Drameh, Summerville, McKinstry, Klich.

Goal: Raphinha (26).

Leicester (4-3-3): Schmeichel, Ricardo, Söyüncü, Evans, Castagne, Tielemans (Dewsbury-Hall 77), Ndidi, Soumaré, Lookman (Maddison 80), Vardy, Barnes (Amartey 70). Subs not used: Ward, Iheanacho, Pérez, Vestergaard, Daka, Thomas.

Goal: Barnes (28)                             Booked: Ndidi

 Referee: Darren England (VAR Peter Bankes)                      Attendance: 36,478.

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

Another disappointing game

City 1 Spartak Moscow 1

Report by Kate Thompson

Brendan Rodgers said after the game that the team had played well and Matt Piper on BBC Radio Leicester took a similar view.  However, most fans would probably agree with Jordan Blackwell, the Leicester Mercury reporter, who complained that there was too much risk-free football – something with which the majority of fans would concur. 

City put out a strong team but some players were suffering from a sickness bug, including Maddison who would probably have started, and he was replaced by Perez.  Bertrand played at left wing-back instead of Thomas and took the corners, making more of an impact from them than either Maddison (in previous games) or Tielemans (in this one), however, we can’t play him just for this reason!

The same front two as in the away game, Iheanacho and Daka, started but neither made much impact. There were twelve substitutes on the bench as five are allowed in Europa League games, including three from the development squad.

Spartak sat very deep and City found it impossible to break them down, something that has been a problem recently.  The nearest they came to breaking the deadlock before half-time was in the 18th minute when Soumare hit the left-hand post with a rasping shot. The only other event of note in the first half was Iheanacho weaving his way into the box but both he and Daka failed to hit the target.

Shortly after half-time City fell behind when Moses (who else?) headed Spartak in front despite the presence of seven Leicester players in his vicinity.  However, an unlikely hero – Amartey – equalised with an excellent header only seven minutes later, which had been flicked on by Perez. 

The players and fans thought they were about to go in front when City were awarded a penalty in the 74th minute after Lookman was fouled in the box. Vardy, who had only come on as a substitute three minutes earlier, saw his shot to the keeper’s left saved quite easily and that is how the score remained.

Apparently, we can still progress to the knock-out stage if we win both our remaining games, but as one of those is away to Napoli, that will be a tall order.  The group is very tight, with only three points separating all four teams, but City will have to play a lot better than this to top the group. 

The one positive was the form of Castagne, who played very effectively and was given as man of the match by some reporters. Our golden boy, Tielemans, was not as influential as we have come to expect, but it was very cheering to see Ndidi come on as a substitute in the 58th minute, replacing Perez.  Lookman came on for Bertrand at the same time, just after the equaliser.  The final substitution was Dewsbury-Hall for Soumare in the 83rd minute, and he was very unlucky when a goal-bound header hit Iheanacho, who failed to score with the rebound.

Another reason to be optimistic is that Evans played the whole match so we can only hope that his plantar fasciatis problem has gone away. I know that it is a difficult one to get over and time is often the only way.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey, Evans, Söyüncü; Castagne, Soumare (Dewsbury-Hall 83), Pérez (Ndidi 58), Tielemans, Bertrand (Lookman 58), Daka (Vardy 71), Iheanacho. Subs (not used) Ward, Choudhury, Thomas, Benkovic, Jakupovic, Daley-Campbell, Nelson, Marcal-Madivadua

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

Going to Leeds ?

Leeds   LS11 0ES

From The North

Follow the A58 or A61 into Leeds city centre, then follow signs for the M621. Join the M621 and after one and a half miles leave the motorway at the junction with the A643. Follow the A643 into Elland Road for the ground. Go down Elland Road past the ground on your right and the Old Peacock pub on your left, you will come to a  to a couple of very large car parks .

From The South
Leave the M1 at Junction 43 and take the M621, towards Leeds City Centre. You will pass the ground on your left and then you need to leave at the next Junction 1 and turn left onto the A6110 ring road. Take the next left onto Elland Road for the ground. Just as you go under a railway bridge there are entrances on either side to large car parks

Leeds have also introduced a shuttle bus from Stourton Park and Ride off J7 of the M621. This costs £10 per car and should be booked in advance

Train

Leeds Railway Station is around a 35 minute walk from Elland Road. Shuttle buses,  run from near the station to the ground.  The first bus in the queue also sells the tickets for all the other buses. It’s best to get a return ticket as then you don’t have to queue up after the match to get a ticket back to the station, you just walk straight onto the bus


Trains take approx 2.5 hours with 1 or 2 changes cheap day return £51.50

Where to drink

At the ground itself next to the away turnstiles is the entrance to Howards, which is a small bar for away supporters only. Opening two hours before kick off, you need to show your away ticket to gain entrance. Outside the North East corner of the stadium, there is a small fan zone, which has live music and a number of food and drink outlets, some of which serve alcohol. Although primarily for home fans, some visiting supporters have been using the facility too.

All information is provided in good faith but the Foxes Trust cannot be held responsible for any errors. Thanks to the Football Ground Guide and Leeds United FC