How Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers outthought Pep Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola of Manchester City (Photo by Martin Rickett – Pool/Getty Images )

I, for one, was left perplexed by Brendan Rodgers choice of a back-five, when I saw the team-sheet ahead of a massive game versus Manchester City at The Etihad. But, a perfect tactical deployment saw Leicester City come out 5-2 victors, let’s dissect his decision-making and why it worked for the Foxes.

Firstly, Leicester City began the game in an unusual 5-4-1, which saw Daniel Amartey start his first Premier League game for two years – as the right centre back out of three, and Dennis Praet play as an unconventional right-midfielder. I thought they’d feel slightly uncomfortable in these positions, especially Praet, who has played as the right-midfielder but in more of a transitional role (i.e. playing as the right central-midfielder and occasionally drifting wide to occupy that space).

The 5-4-1 became two banks of five, as Jamie Vardy sat between both Leicester City central-midfielders – Nampalys Mendy and Youri Tielemans. At first, I thought this gave too much freedom to Nathan Aké and Eric García in the heart of the Citizens defence, but the idea was to neutralise Rodri’s involvement in the game.

Often, Kevin De Bruyne would utilise the Spanish midfielder as a “safety net” option in possession, if he was struggling to find angles to play through the lines. With Vardy man-marking Rodri, this options was taken away, forcing De Bruyne to play forwards at all times – whilst this was happening, all the options were being marked, vigilantly, by Leicester City midfielders and defenders.

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