Who’s to blame for Leicester relegation? Part 3: goalkeepers

Danny Ward of Leicester City (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)
Danny Ward of Leicester City (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images) /
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Leicester City
Danny Ward of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Etihad Stadium on April 15, 2023 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images) /

Danny Ward, 28 Leicester City games, 7 clean sheets

Given the £12.5million outlay on the Welsh international in 2018, and that he finally made his first Premier League start in 2022, it was only natural that Danny Ward would step up to the number one spot. It didn’t quite work out. Ward’s distribution and claims on crosses were okay (two of Kasper’s weaknesses) but crucially saving shots at key times was not something he excelled in. Dropping actual clangers wasn’t something he did too often, bar a calamity at Arsenal he wasn’t doing terribly.

But in one-on-one situations, it seemed to be all too easy for opponents to find space and pick their spot in the back of the net. Ward simply wasn’t closing down angles well enough and lacked the spacial awareness to command his area in the simple ways. The calls for him to be dropped were already starting as early as September when he followed up a 5-2 defeat to Brighton with a 6-2 loss at Tottenham. Every shot seemed to lead to a goal and Ward was looking less and less confident.

Bizarrely he followed that up with six clean sheets in his next eight games, where it seemed LCFC had turned the corner. It was a false dawn and those would be the last clean sheets he tasted in the Premier League as the club’s defence spiralled out of control downward after Christmas. The most naggingly obvious was the comfortable home defeat to a terrible Chelsea. Allowing a Ben Chilwell daisy cutter to trickle in at his near post was as annoying as being rooted to the spot as Kai Havertz lobbed an easy second goal over the hapless goalkeeper.

That was the last we saw of Danny Ward and his contribution to an embarrassing Foxes season. Overall he registered the lowest save percentage (63%) of any Leicester City goalkeeper in their nine Premier League seasons. It could be the last we ever see of him as a Leicester player.