This afternoon saw Premier League holders Leicester City face off against FA Cup winners Manchester United in the Community Shield, resulting in a 2 – 1 loss for the foxes.
In his first competitive game in charge of the Red Devils, Jose Mourinho saw Jesse Lindgard open the scoring in the first half with a fantastic solo effort before Jamie Vardy equalised for the foxes but it was summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic who sealed the deal scoring a last minute header after beating Leicester City captain Wes Morgan to the ball.
Despite the loss, there were many positives for boss Claudio Ranieri to take from the game. One being Jamie Vardy’s fitness.
The controversial striker scored 24 goals last season, scoring Leicester City’s only goal of the afternoon shortly after the break. Despite having surgery on his wrist a few weeks a go, the England international looked fit and fired up, his signature work-rate was that of a player who was in the middle of the season, healthy as ever.
His movement both on and off of the ball was crucial to Leicester City breaking Manchester United’s back line, being a pest to Man of The Match Eric Bailly all afternoon, eventually causing the centre-back to barge him over, receiving a yellow card.
At half time we saw Jamie Vardy’s new partner in crime Ahmed Musa come into play. When he came on Leicester City looked a new team, partly because of his difference in style to Shinji Okazaki but also he offers pace that equals Vardy’s. Something rarely come by.
His performance was a typical one you’d expect from a new signing, not great but not terrible. While his runs in behind were fantastic, as was his work-rate but he failed to link up with partner Jamie Vardy and many times held the counter-attack up.
Ironically it was a poorly placed pass that led to Leicester City’s goal after Marouane Fellaini picked the ball up and misplaced a pass back to United’s David De Gea, naturally Vardy chased the ball down, rounded the keeper and never looked like missing.
Leicester City’s superstar Riyad Mahrez also looked off today, as he did in the Foxes’ 4-2 defeat to Barcelona in the week in Stockholm. This time however, we can’t use the excuse of him being out of position.
The Algerian winger started the game on the right-wing where he was so effective last season but failed to make an impact on the game. Looking like the Mahrez of old, before Leicester’s title winning season, he was hot and cold. At times it looked like he was unstoppable but would often find himself disappearing for long periods.
One reason for this could be the apparent interest in the Premier League’s ‘Player of The Year’. Reports are stating that Arsenal are looking to be preparing a bid of over £40m for Leicester City’s winger. Ranieri himself stated that Mahrez was distracted by this but both himself and Leicester City’s owner are insisting that he is not for sale.
Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater has also attracted attention from a London giant, this time just 5 miles down the road from the Emirates at White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham.
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Drinkwater, unlike Mahrez didn’t let speculation get the better of him and bossed the midfield as if last season never ended, his passing was key for Leicester City and at times looked like we were watching Steven Gerrard in his prime. Perhaps Leicester could have done with Steven’s finishing.
One to watch out for this season looks to be Demarai Gray. After his winter move from Birmingham City, the young left-winger looks to take the Premier League by the scruff of the neck. The 19 year old is the polar opposite of Marc Albrighton, whom he fights for a space in the the starting 11 with.
While Marc tries to whip a ball in, often with great success. Demarai will look to dribble his way past defenders and while it may not come off every time, he looks a frightening prospect for the future. Should he and Ben Chilwell stay for a prolonged period of their careers with the Foxes, Leicester City fans will have a lot to look forward to down that left flank.
All is not dandy however, Claudio will need to sure up the defence that won him the league for the upcoming season.
The frailty of the defence is baffling. There were no changes from last season’s winning formula however Leicester City looked shook at times, with consistent errors not just in the Community Shield but against both Barcelona and PSG. Leicester City won the league on the back of this defence and until it’s tightened up, they won’t be winning much more.
Losing Kante to Chelsea would be an easy excuse for Leicester to step back and say ‘well of course we’ll be worse off’ however with the addition of Mendy and Amartey, Ranieri will be expecting as much as them as the Frenchman who’s now in London.
After Mendy came on, he made some key interceptions and played his role well. He even looked better than Kante did when he first joined the foxes which will give fans hope, only time will tell if he can fill the boots of his predecessor.
Leicester City fans will be disappointed with the start to the season, narrowly missing out on getting their hands on some early season silverware. Despite this, foxes fans should trust in Ranieri to fix their defensive frailties and with a front 3 of Musa, Vardy and Mahrez, they have plenty to be excited about.
Schmeichel – 7
Failed to keep his clean sheet but made important saves and came off of his line to clear the ball at key times
Simpson – 7
Had a defensively solid game up against Martial, keeping him in check for the most part. Booked for a silly challenge on Rooney.
Huth – 6
Despite Zlatan’s size, Robert Huth kept him relatively quiet. Could have done better for Lindgard’s opener.
Morgan – 6
At fault for Zlatan’s late winner, had a mixed game.
Fuchs – 7
Played very well defensively and whipped in some key crosses into the box
Albrighton – 6
Didn’t set the world alight, however played some great set-pieces.
King – 6
The Leicester City veteran failed to have an impact in the midfield but broke up plays well.
Drinkwater – 8
Leicester’s key man in midfield. Bossed the tight spaces and his passing was on point throughout the match.
Okazaki – 7
Worked hard throughout the first half before being substituted. Had great link-up play with Jamie Vardy.
Vardy – 8
Scored Leicester City’s only goal and hounded Manchester United’s back line throughout the 90 minutes.
Mahrez – 6
Was great in spells and invisible in others. A shadow of his form in the previous season.