With the festive season fast approaching and the weather beginning to take a permanent chill pill, Leicester City Football Club is truly getting to the meat of their season. A late Friday night kickoff saw the Foxes welcome Leeds United to the King Power Stadium. With Leicester sitting atop the table and Leeds not far behind in third place it was poised to be a classic affair.
The match turned out to be anything but for the neutral, with Leicester City controlling the ball, but not doing much with it; Enzo Maresca’s side only managed a single shot on target in the entirety of the match. Unfortunately Leicester would fall behind to the eventual game winning goal scored by Leeds forward Georginio Rutter via a set piece. Let’s look at three players that I think really let the team down tonight.
Going in ascending order from least disappointing to most, I’ll start with Mads Hermansen. The young Danish keeper has been a revelation this season in terms of his style of play. He is especially cool under pressure when making a pass, but that coolness was almost his downfall multiple times in this game. It seemed his passes were just slightly delayed or off. Two or three different times his passes were deflected as he made them or he would pass to the incorrect option/to a man that was too well defended.
Next on my list of underwhelming performances is one I’m ashamed to even put on this list: Jamie Vardy. While he is an eternal at this club, he was noticeably absent from this game for whatever reason that may be. While I don’t attribute it all to him personally as he relies on service, he just didn’t seem to offer any of what we count on him for and it was a big miss for us. Again, he didn’t get many teammates passing into him so I don’t want to be too harsh on him.
Finally, I’m going to take a slightly risky stance here and move away from a player for my final choice. I’m going to choose the manager, Enzo Maresca as my most disappointing performer of the night. Normally I reserve nothing but praise for the Italian innovator but tonight it seemed he was out coached. I don’t know what he told the players at halftime but it wasn’t what they needed to hear. I just didn’t see that tactical advantage we usually have had against many of our other opponents this season.
In particular what really troubled me was our inability to deal with Leeds’ press when they decided they would really try to squeeze us. It worked almost every time they did it, especially early in the first half. It was almost as if the players were shocked that this could be happening to them, since really it hadn’t in prior matches. One has to credit the visiting manager Daniel Farke for his tactical set up. Although I will say, the last three or four games teams have been making it really difficult for us. Maybe we are being found out?
Putting things in perspective, Leicester City are still eleven points clear of third placed Leeds in the table. Panic stations need not be inhabited and operated; tis only a speed bump in my opinion. Of course, if the team struggles again away at Middlesborough next weekend, those stations may just start to get a spark of life in them.
Let’s all take a deep breath here; we knew we were bound to lose more. Commentary stating if LCFC won this game it would create a new club record of 10 wins straight may have already been the writing on the wall for this result. With fans so confident I’m sure it’s been difficult to temper the elation in the dressing room as well. But I trust Maresca to keep standards high and places in the team based on effort to ensure we gain promotion. Until next week, remember: Foxes never quit. Up the boys!