Why Leicester intentionally fielded a weak starting lineup vs Arsenal

Youri Tielemans of Leicester City (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Youri Tielemans of Leicester City (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images) /
Leicester City
Youri Tielemans of Leicester City (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images) /

Leicester City suffered a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal at Emirates Stadium during the past weekend. Various questionable changes were made to the starting line-up.

The Foxes were gaining some momentum as they were unbeaten in their last four matches prior to the Gunners clash. That run included two wins in the Premier League, along with one crucial victory against Rennes at King Power Stadium in midweek.

Mikel Arteta’s team had escalated its form since their slow start to the season; they failed to be victorious in their beginning three matches. They have now become one of the favourites to finish in the top four places to play Champions League next term. After defeating the 2020-21 FA Cup Champions, the Londoners are even more confident of snatching a top four spot.

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Kasper Schmeichel’s led side suffered a weird 2-0 loss, frustrating various fans as the play lacked any intensity and there were several odd alterations to the team. But if you are a supporter of the club, you can easily understand that the manager has one eye on the upcoming second leg against Rennes. Some might argue that the decision to rest Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans was totally justified because the UEFA Europa Conference League is the only way for LCFC to get into Europe for the subsequent campaign.

During a post-match interview last Sunday, the gaffer said this:

"”Physically, it’s tough for us, having had so many players out throughout the season, that depth of quality probably isn’t in our squad that a lot of teams maybe in Europe, especially at the top of the league would have. But what we’ll see is the players give everything and you have to, somewhere across the line, try to recover players and obviously today we bring out Wilf and Youri. But we bring in Papy, who I thought did really well, he’s won recently the Africa Cup of Nations, and James Maddison, who is a very gifted player.”"


"“Some of our other guys we haven’t been able to change and what limits us is that our full-backs are coming back, but they can’t play 90 minutes. Ricardo Pereira can only play 60, so there’s one sub before you can even think about anything else in the game because he’s coming off and then JJ comes in, so you’re trying to get these guys up to match fitness but it is a real, real challenge for us.”Leicester Mercury"

On social media many supporters comprehended his decisions regarding the midfield, yet were still shocked to see Kelechi Iheanacho as a lone striker. The Nigerian International is surely a deadly striker but it is a fact that he is at his best when there is a partner with him upfront. Hence the surprise not to see Patson Daka starting in a duo.

Regarding the debate over what should have been the formation of the East Midlands side, the Northern Irishman opined:

"“Sometimes it’s the game, both sides today played in 4-3-3 when they had the ball, pressing in a 4-4-2, in that structure then you need a striker who can play in between the lines and come underneath and Kels is more efficient at that than Patson.“If you’re looking for someone to stretch the line, get in behind like Jamie, then Patson is that guy, so you’re just looking at each game and what each game needs. I thought Kels had some good moments in the game, that’s the options that we have at the moment without Jamie.”"

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Wesley Fofana is said to make a return in the second leg of UECL where the club shall look to qualify for a quarter-finals for the second time in their European history.