Palace 1-1 Leicester: the Foxes have good quality in the squad

Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images) /
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Leicester City
Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace and Nempalys Mendy of Leicester City (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images) /

One of the other graduates was Hamza Choudhury, who partnered Nampalys Mendy in the heart of the Foxes midfield. Despite being a pragmatic, ball-winning double pivot, the two of them enabled the attacking frontline to play with more freedom and ensured that the first-half was definitely in Leicester City’s favour. There defensive mindsets gave both full-backs additional support when they decided to maraud forward.

My only issue with the pivot was their desire to receive the ball. Quite often, they’d play in the cover shadow of Crystal Palace’s front two (Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha) whilst the centre-backs were in possession, and this made it difficult to initially progress the ball centrally. A cover shadow is referring to the space the pressing player is covering behind them – since a ball can’t go through a player – essentially, Leicester City’s defensive-midfielders were hiding in possession. I also felt Mendy was conscious of taking too many touches on the ball and would offload as if the ball was a “hot potato” – often this would be needlessly. There’s a difference between recycling with purpose, and doing so just to remove your responsibility in possession.

The third, and final, graduate was Harvey Barnes – who was exceptional. As I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t review the game against Manchester United but his solo effort was brilliant, and there was shades of that versus Palace. Both goals have come on his weaker left-foot, they’ve also followed a carry in possession that enabled him to manipulate a goal scoring opportunity. I was also very impressed by his strength to hold off Luka Milivojević before taking the shot, as the Palace captain is renowned for his physical presence in the middle of the pitch.

One of the other changes involved a shift in the #10 role, which allowed Dennis Praet a chance to showcase his capabilities in the playmaking role. Throughout the first-half, is inverted run on the right-half-space created lots of good chances for the Foxes – they just required better movements in the box. At a glance, these crosses look like they’re misplaced as the Crystal Palace defenders easily cleared them, but I think the Leicester City players need to attack spaces with better variety.

When Praet receives a pass from Justin, he’s always going to attempt to cut his pass backwards as he’s playing the ball from the byline. Iheanacho is always positioned in the six-yard-box (an expectation of your forward) but the midfield runners – Ayoze Pérez, Harvey Barnes, and Youri Tielemans (in the second-half) need to create passing lanes around the penalty spot and edge-of-the-box. By adding variety to the spaces they’re attacking, there’s more options for the crossing player to find – and if they’ve crossed without scanning the options, they’ve got more chances of finding a Leicester City player.

The final two changes to the starting XI were Pérez and Iheanacho, who replaced Marc Albrighton and Jamie Vardy. It was a day to forget for the Nigerian, who missed the best two chances for the Foxes, and should’ve helped push Rodgers’ side to a comfortable three points on the road. I’d still like to highlight his proficiencies in linking play with the surrounding players – he helps find internal lanes on the top corners of the box for the wingers to penetrate and shoot (made possible by his back-to-goal connective plays with one-twos). A goal-scoring winger would arguably prefer this style of forward, than Vardy – but that’s really clutching at straws for Iheanacho.