Leicester City have suffered two defeats after two terrific wins. Brendan Rodgers has commented on his side’s performance and what they need to improve.
24 games played, 24 points gained, 14th in the Premier League. But the picture is bleaker than that suggests: six points away from 20th, and seven away from 10th. At the moment, the Foxes are not even mid table, we are in a relegation scrap.
However, after the signings of Harry Souttar, Victor Kristiansen, and Tete, the King Power club had two 2-4 victories over Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspurs. Following that were two close losses to Manchester United and league leaders Arsenal. So, perhaps we can forgive those losses.
Leicester City needs ‘aggression’
Rodgers’ comments post-Arsenal are interesting. It is clear what was missing in that match and what we had in the two victories. The head coach certainly made no mistakes in his commentary, as per LeicestershireLive:
"“First half we were too passive which surprised me. Our idea has been to be aggressive but we were too passive and that ended up we were passive when we had the ball and weren’t quick enough. Second half was better, there was more aggression”"
Aggression. First and foremost, a team which wants to challenge towards the top of the Premier League or escape a relegation battle must show fight. The players have got to be willing to aggressively get forward, get back, put in challenges, and create chances. It is about a winning mentality: something we have lacked in a team ready for a refreshment.
"“When we got to the final third we couldn’t find that pass. We are disappointed with the goal we gave away. We had good possession… We want to control the space and the pressure, technically top team, players who can take the ball in tight spaces… [on James Maddison] We can’t rely on him to be the catalyst. If you keep giving the ball away”"
Ball retention. A key component of what has built ‘Rodgersball’. You keep the ball, you recycle it, you pass neatly constantly to break up defensive positions, and then eventually you strike. At no point though does the head coach want us to just give the ball away.
You could have the most in form striker in the league, the best creative maestro in midfield, a defensive juggernaut, and you will still lose if the side cannot keep hold of the ball and string a few passes together. This is usually what Youri Tielemans and Papy Mendy do well at.
Unfortunately, our players have been inconsistent in this regard. Against technically gifted and aggressive players, the Foxes struggled to maintain the ball and apply any meaningful pressure through ball progression. Long balls were common, and interceptions guaranteed: it was not good enough. For more analysis of the Gunner’s match, check out this article.
So, those are the two primary aspects which must change going into a series of critical and useful fixtures. Aggression and retention. Essentially, the King Power club needs to see themselves similarly to Sean Dyche’s revitalised Everton: aggressive and organised in defence, then return to the golden days of Rodgersball and actually retain the ball for prolonged spells. Clutching at chances will not help, patience and pressure is all that will save the Foxes.
Leicester City face Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup, then a run of what we would normally identify as ‘easy’ matches separated by Chelsea in the league. There are no excuses for this team with low injuries not to at least try and do better. At minimum, the willingness and effort must be seen to win matches against those clubs around us in the table.