A compact midfield
Keeping it tight in the middle of the park is something that is often associated with Dean Smith sides, as mentioned previously with his Brentford side putting onus on the middle of the pitch in both senses. John McGinn and Douglas Luiz would often be tasked with doing so at Aston Villa, with both also carrying an attacking threat from long-distance and set pieces.
City have the capacity to achieve this with defensive midfielders in Wilfred Ndidi, Nampalys Mendy, Boubakary Soumare and even Daniel Amartey, although none of these are exactly adventurous in an attacking sense. James Maddison, while excelling as a ten, has it in him to be a fantastic 8, although it’s like Smith will view the Foxes starlet in the same light as he did Grealish and look to use him as an outlet to frighten opposition defences.
The issue Ndidi has faced for many years is having another midfielder alongside him, often working better as a single pivot, but Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall could be the perfect partner for the Nigerian should he be first-choice, with the Shepshed-born midfielder arguably the most similar player to McGinn that Smith can utilise.
This, combined with expected defensive stability given John Terry’s arrival, could stand City in good stead as they look to claw towards Premier League survival. Craig Shakespeare is back at the club, with both men part of Smith’s coaching staff.
Up and down the line
Whether it be in a three-or-four-man defensive system, Foxes fans can expect to see their wide defenders encouraged to be part of the attack – something that alludes back to Smith making the most of his players’ individual qualities.
This is something that both Ricardo Pereira and Timothy Castagne will be accustomed to operating within, and will also allow for that midfield to remain as a solid structure that the manager will typically aim for.
This is particularly likely to occur given the aforementioned lack of adventure in City’s pivot, and the fact that James Maddison will probably be given a license to roam freely between the lines of opposition midfields and defences. The more men involved from wide areas can act as a distraction or even a decoy to help the Foxes No.10 operate effectively.