The Foxes captured three points this weekend in a clash with Swansea. Jamie Vardy and Wes Morgan netted a goal apiece, and although it was a win, the final ten minutes were a bit tense after Leroy Fer scored for Swansea in the 80th minute. Nonetheless, it was a well earned (and warmly welcomed) three points by squad in their first win of the season.
Here's what we can take away from the rain storm that had a football match somewhere in the middle of it:
In the 56th minute of the match we saw what makes Shinji Okazaki so important to this team. Leicester came on the break, Okazaki takes the ball off a deflection in the box, only to be fouled by Jordan Amat, leading to Leicester penalty. While the Rihyad Mahrez penalty is ultimately saved by Lukasz Fabianski for Swansea, Okazaki immediately collapses on the ball to get another shot off, which was saved as well.
Did the Foxes get a goal from the sequence? No, but the moment stands out in my mind. This is who Okazaki is - smart, quick, relentless. He has an impact on the team when he is in the side, and it is because those qualities that he is critical for the team. Not only does he add quality, but perhaps what I enjoy so much about the Japanese forward is that he may best encapsulates so much of what we enjoy about this team into one player.
I cannot say how many goals he may score this year, but I do know that Shinji Okazaki is a special player. Saturday was just a subtle reminder.
One of the biggest questions that we had coming into the season was who would fill the gap that was left by N'Golo Kanté. Nempalys Mendy and Daniel Amartey have arguably put in the best starts thus far this season. Now that we have seen them in at least one start, we have to ask - who should we turn to moving forward with the season? Saturday may have provided us a bit of an answer.
First off, let us just recognize that Claudio Ranieri is correct in saying that there is only one N'Golo Kanté. Realizing that we cannot get an exact clone of Kanté is important, and what the Foxes really need is someone that posses qualities similar to what the French ball-winner can do. That is something that I think that we (by "we", I mean "I") need to be reminded (not once, but many times) this season.
That all leads to this - Daniel Amartey had a fantastic match on Saturday. He ran back to the ball, stole possession and drove the ball up the pitch - much of which we grew used to from Kanté. With Danny Drinkwater (see below) working along side him, they looked closer to the rhythm that we experienced from the midfield last season. Mendy had a good performance against Arsenal before coming off with the ankle injury, and he adds quality to the side, but it appears that Amartey may add exactly what we are looking for in the starting eleven.
Ultimately, one match is too small a sample to make any definitive opinions, but Amartey is someone that we should all be paying attention to.
Don’t Forget Mr. Drinkwater
So much midfield discussion coming into the season has been centered around Kante's departure (see above) or if Mahrez would follow him. It was a roller coaster ride yet, we overlooked the rock in the midfield: Danny Drinkwater.
Last week, Drinkwater signed a new five-year deal, committing him to the Foxes for the long term. So, how did he respond to this new deal? Sheer brilliance. Drinkwater put in a magnificent effort in the midfield - particularly the beautiful ball over the top that led to Vardy's opening goal. It was a class outing by Drinkwater, but then again, we should know to expect nothing less.
The Big 100
This last takeaway isn't so much a takeaway, but more a moment of reflection. With the victory over the Swans this weekend, Ranieri earned his 100th victory in the Premier League. Over those 100 victories, he has gone from being labeled the Tinkerman to being heralded the leader of the greatest underdog story in sports history.
It has been quite an adventure for Ranieri in the Premier League, but I for one take this moment as an opportunity to appreciate how great last season was. More so, I look forward to all that the remainder of this season has in store for us.
Dilly Ding, Dilly Dong - Congrats, Claudio.
Up next: The Foxes have the week off with the international break - well, except for Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy, who were called up for Sam Allardyce's first England squad. When we return from the break, Leicester faces off with Liverpool at Anfield. See you on the live match thread!