Leicester City have started their 2023/24 campaign with back-to-back wins in both the league and the cup, however there were some concerns with their opening day win over Coventry. Here are three players FoL think should be starting when the East Midland club to Huddersfield on Saturday.
Not only should the Nigerian centre forward be starting, but he should be one of the first names on the team sheet. His technical ability is vastly superior to Jamie Vardy’s at this point in the 36-year-old’s career. The performance from both players in Sunday’s 2-1 win against Coventry was a casing point to this. Until Iheanacho entered the frame, balls played into Vardy resulted in the move losing momentum due to his inability to gather the ball in under three touches. Also, his lack of capability to play on the half turn, to spin defenders or bring any other players into the sides attacking movements.
Immediately once the 26-year-old stepped on the pitch the dynamic of LCFC’s attacks changed. They became a lot more fluid and were able to be sustained in the final third. The Nigerian international continued this in his match-winning display in the Carabao Cup by picking up a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win.
If Enzo Maresca’s words are to be believed with that he is only involving players that are committed to the club and the vision the Italian has in his sights, Iheanacho’s goal scoring ability combined with his elite link-up play will be vital for the fight to gain entry back into the Premier League.
Similarly, to Iheanacho, Praet changed Sunday’s affair completely once he replaced Wilfred Ndidi as the right-sided eight. Simply due to his greater technical ability and threat inside the final third compared to Ndidi. However, I think he would be best suited to play instead of Kasey McAteer in the right-wing spot. Having Praet here would allow much more fluid attacking passages in the right hand-side of the pitch. As it would be easier for Praet due to his passing ability to exploit the runs Ndidi makes in the left eight spot.
Although it seems as Meresca has a lot of faith in the young McAteer, especially when you look at the profile of the winger due to his explosive pace he possesses. However, his decision making, and end-product seem to be very raw at this point in his career. Praet played in this role against Burton Albion on Wednesday night, it allows City to rotate him and Ndidi seamlessly resulting in difficult defensive work for the opposition. In a tie in which it is likely that Leicester will be playing against a deep block creating rotations with the eight and the wide player will be vital when in the final third.
Leicester City s James Justin
It became clear in the second half against Coventry that Jannick Vestergaard’s lack of mobility is likely to be exposed too easily in Maresca’s system. Therefore, going with back-line of Justin as the right-sided centre-back and then Wout Faes as the central centre-half would address many of the defensive transition issues the Foxes faced. Also, coupled with Justin’s pace and athleticism this would make LCFC extremely difficult to counter-attack on paper.
What also makes Justin apt for this role with his ball carrying ability, as well as his elite “1 vs 1” winning capabilities. This kind of player profile is essential to have sustained success in this system. It could be similar to how Maresca’s mentor Pep Guardiola uses Kyle Walker. What you could call a defensive transition “cheat code”.