How Brendan Rodgers improved Leicester after disappointments

Brendan Rodgers manager of Leicester City (Photo by Andrea Staccioli /Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Brendan Rodgers manager of Leicester City (Photo by Andrea Staccioli /Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images) /
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Leicester City
Joao Pedro of Watford FC reacts after a missed chance during the Premier League match vs Leicester City (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images) /

The game versus Watford was really simplistic in an attacking sense, despite falling behind early into the game. Roy Hodgson’s side created their own downfalls, but it was the quality of James Maddison that ensured the East Midlands outfit capitalised on these misfortunes. The most recent game—a 1-1 draw at Chelsea—highlighted some real qualities for Rodgers to take into next season’s campaign. It felt almost like an “old Leicester City performance”, sitting very deep in a defensive block and utilising their quality and pace in transition to create chances in the fixture.

They did just that, as Maddison’s impressive individual goal-scoring season continued with an excellent goal early in the game. Statistically, it wasn’t an impressive attacking showing for the away side, accumulating only 0.06 xG (0.04 xG being the goal), but the point I want to talk about is the discipline and execution of a defensive block that limited the output of an elite footballing-side.

A couple of the key concepts are as follows; aggressive defending of passes into the front three of Chelsea’s 3–4–2–1 and cutting all the passing lanes once Thiago Silva (their central CB) had possession. Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans were really commanding in their defensive duels, not allowing Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, or Romelu Lukaku to connect through the thirds for Thomas Tuchel’s side. To achieve this, all the centre-backs aggressively closed the space between themselves and the forward receiving the ball, often intercepting or tackling instantaneously. Chelsea reverted to this direct style of progression because the structure of the Foxes block made short passes difficult to complete.