West Brom 1-2 Leicester: 3 key things learned

With the foxes stuttering in recent weeks and taking only one win from four, a trip to the Hawthorns to see in-form West Bromwich Albion was not greeted with massive confidence. But Leicester City wins in the blue and white half of 'The Black Country' are pretty frequent in recent years and this was no different, although rarely comfortable what were the 3 key things learned from this latest victory?
Leicester City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Leicester City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall is coming of age

It has taken some high-profile departures and let's be honest, a relegation for the Shepshed boy to be given an extended run in the team. Be that as it may, there are lots of options for manager Enzo Maresca to choose from so for 'KDH' to now be seen as one of the first names on the teamsheet shows how far his game has advanced. Playing in an advanced number eight position does give him licence to roam forward and be creative and at The Hawthorns he was constantly in the mix. His energy levels were high throughout as he sprayed the passes forward into his wingers and made runs of his own to create spaces for his teammates.

He is a selfless player who is all about doing what he can to make the team better and ultimately get results. He had a goal ruled out in the first half for a correct offside decision. His late run into the box in the 72nd minute to head home a teasing Wilfred Ndidi cross, epitomised his desire to get into dangerous areas and make a difference in this promotion charge. His passionate celebration showed an even more emotional side of what this club means to him.

He would have been as annoyed as anyone when they let an away lead slip late on for the second time in three days as Josh Maja stabbed the ball into the net. The foxes could be forgiven for taking the point and running as the Baggies piled on the pressure with long throws into the penalty area, but as the foxes cleared one last push by the home side, Kelechi Iheanacho got the ball under control and released the charging 'KDH' through on goal. He had the fitness, composure and unselfishness to wait and square it for Harry Winks to gleefully poke the ball into the empty net and take the three points home. It capped off a man-of-the-match display for a player who surely needs to be wearing the captain's armband in the future. He is Leicester City's most important player right now with seven assists and a joint top goalscorer of six. If Leicester are to achieve their aim this season, he will be crucial.

The striker paradox

That the top goalscorer has only six goals almost halfway through the season is somewhat of a surprise and more than a concern for many Leicester City fans eager to see them blow their opponents away with buckets of goals. But the number 9 in Enzo Maesca's system isn't used in the same way we are all used to. Normally he will drop in deep to not only link the play but to drag an opposing defender out of position for either the wingers or either of the number eights to exploit the space in behind. This requires some strong hold-up play and cleverness from the strikers to be able to devise patterns of play.

Kelechi iheanacho was given the nod at West Bromwich Albion with mixed results. His link up play tended to be slightly sloppy in key areas or he was behind the play too far and not attacking the key central areas. On two separate occasions, wide-men pulled crosses along the six-yard box crying out for a poacher to tap home, but the Nigerian number nine was lurking nearer the penalty spot. He lazily strayed offside in the first half for what ended up being a chalked-off goal from Dewsbury-Hall and he dragged a shot wide in a central position that should have hit the target at the very least. He did however make a telling contribution releasing KDH to create the winner but it seems like Iheanacho is suffering an identity crisis. Is he a creator? A false 9? Whatever he is, nearly halfway through a Championship season with only five goals to his name is not quite what he would have hoped for.

Also, special mention for Jamie Vardy who would have thought some minutes at a ground he constantly scores at would have been a guarantee but Maresca did not think so. Managing minutes has taken priority in recent games with Iheanacho completing the full 90 here before Vardy did likewise at Hillsborough in midweek. Is it working? Leicester are still getting results with seven points from nine since returning from the international break. But strikers not on form in a winning team is taking a lot of getting used to. It's worth noting for context that the team one point below is having a similar story. Ipswich Town's top league scorer is only on seven and ex-foxes striker George Hirst only has five goals to his name as well, but he also has five assists to Iheanacho and Vardy's one. Numbers and performances need to improve sharply for Leicester City's strikers to make victories more comfortable and less in the balance.

The chasing pack are relentless

A great result against a top-six rival to keep them further away was a much-needed tonic after the dropped points at Hillsborough. But it was even more important by 3:11pm with all of Ipswich, Leeds United and Southampton winning games they went on to win. Leicester City are still on course for a brilliant season having won 15 of their 19 league games this season, but that makes it even more remarkable that the three chasing teams sit not too far away with Southampton and Leeds form hitting new strides this season. They will be key to watch as the two other relegated Premier League sides from last season look to make an instant return.

But it is the Tractor Boys who are having the most remarkable season as they look to bounce back to the Premier League for the first time in 20 years. To be only one point behind this Foxes team in December is incredible and richly deserved. The two teams will face each other twice in the space of three weeks across December and January with any dropped points being keen to be capitalised on by those rivals. It's going to be a long and exciting season.