Leicester City edged out a weary victory against Bristol City. Here is the young star who has forced their way into the boss’s plans. The name is obvious.
Kasey McAteer. As soon as the academy star is removed from the starting XI, the Foxes lack that gusto and dominating creativity which helps to break down teams. That is where Leicester struggled against the Robins, and none of our wingers offers it quite like McAteer does.
Leicester City’s breakout star
Two goals against Rotherham, one against Southampton, and another against Norwich City. The English fullback turned right winger has already shown Enzo Maresca what he can do. Goals, creativity, and an incessant threat which pulls defences apart while making brilliant off-the-ball movements to create space.
But, up until now we had not really seen much of the King Power club without the attacker. So, how did the match go? Well, it actually went quite well. 19 shots sounds pretty good, until you realise only seven were on target and only the penalty from Jamie Vardy went in the net. A lack of clinical instinct and a lack of strong creativity. Just finding space outside the box for an on-target shot is not enough to win games at this level: you have to penetrate a defence and get someone clear on goal.
We saw this against Southampton and Norwich, players running behind the defence. This was mainly Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and McAteer. However, what we saw against the Robins is what we miss without the English winger.
Both Stephy Mavididi and Abdul Fatawu Issahaku like to collect the ball ahead of the defensive line and link up with midfield runners or a marauding striker like Vardy. However, if they have no space to operate in, and they are constantly ahead of defenders, then this will limit the ability of the Foxers to construct clear-cut chances against a compact low-block like the one Bristol deployed.
In short, Leicester City lacked options. No penetrative pace, no creative linking up beyond defenders, and less of a defensive impetus to win the ball on the wings – the only exception to this could be the simply awesome Mavididi. As such, how can Maresca drop Kasey McAteer again without changing the way Leicester look to create chances? In my opinion, Kelechi Iheanacho would be the one to put upfront, with Fatawu and possibly Yunus Akgun on the wings as Fatawu does look good on the left, where Akgun does show explosive pace and creativity if less penetrative and more progressive than McAteer.