Leicester City secured their spot in the second round of the Carabao Cup after they cruised past League One side Burton Albion, beating the Brewers 2-0. Goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi ensured that the Foxes were not victims of an early ‘cupset’.
The East Midlands side scored early on in the first half as Iheanacho flicked home Marc Albrighton’s cross with a delicate finish. Maresca’s side looked very comfortable as they controlled possession and probed looking for a second goal. Just as Burton was growing back into the game Ndidi picked out the top corner with on the stroke of half-time. Burton showed little by way of attacking intent in the second half and Leicester dictated the tempo as the game fizzled out.
The victory meant that Enzo Maresca has got off to the perfect side with two wins in his first two games. The reward for Maresca’s side was an away trip to League Two side Tranmere Rovers at the end of August.
Here are three things we noticed as Leicester City progressed!
An impressive performance from Hamza Choudhury
Choudhury’s Leicester career had looked to be over when he was loaned out to Watford last season but as a result of Leicester’s relegation the academy product has wriggled his way back into the plans of Maresca. The Loughborough lad partnered Harry Winks in midfield as he replaced Ricardo Pereira in the midfield pivot.
The 25-year-old would then drop into the left-back role on the rare occasion that Leicester was called into defensive action. Choudhury also regularly dropped in between the two centre-backs to collect the ball and distribute it through the midfield. While Choudhury probably would not be part of Maresca’s strongest eleven, he will be utilised as a squad player this season.
Leicester City controlled 75% of possession and Choudhury was a big part of that. Choudhury had a 95% pass completion, completing 78 of his 82 passes, while he also nailed all four of his tackles.
A confidence-boosting clean sheet
After Leicester showcased some defensive frailties against Coventry at the weekend it was pleasing to see a much more solid defensive performance on Wednesday night. While there were still moments of concern the backline looked much more assured than they did on Sunday. Leicester fans will need to be patient as the team adapts to the style of play of Maresca, but Leicester looked better in their defensive transition on Wednesday.
Wout Faes shifted to the middle of the back three replacing Jannik Vestergaard while James Justin, who made his first start since November after returning from a knee injury, lined up on the right-hand side of the back three.
Jakub Stolarczyk christened his Leicester debut with a clean sheet, with the Pole being chosen over first-team regulars Danny Ward and Daniel Iversen. This may indicate that the future of the pair is under scrutiny with rumours emerging of Crystal Palace’s interest in Iversen.
Enzo Maresca is taking the Carabao Cup seriously
Leicester fans were expecting the team to be fully rotated against Burton, and while Maresca did offer a rest to some players he still fielded a very strong team. Winks kept his place in midfield alongside Ndidi, while Doyle and Faes made up the backline. But with 30 minutes to go and the game seemingly won Maresca flexed his muscles and introduced Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Ricardo Pereira to see the game out.
Kasey McAteer was also sent on in the dying embers as he replaced Kelechi Iheanacho up front. The Foxes have reached the quarter-finals in five of the last six seasons, and while it is not a high priority this season a good cup run may help to keep the players motivated and high on confidence.