This week has offered little break in the schedule for Leicester City, as the Foxes have been busy with matches in the Premier League and the English Football League Cup. The squad found great success on Saturday in the 3-0 win over Burnley, which featured a two goal performance by Islam Slimani. If one match wasn’t enough, we were provided another opportunity to watch the Foxes on the pitch, as they clashed with Chelsea in the League Cup. Unfortunately, for the Foxes, it ended in a 4-2 loss that was decided in extra time and ended their run in this competition.
It was a week that had some great moments that brought pure elation, but it was also a week that left you scratching your head with a bit of frustration. Let’s start with some positives.
Big nights for Slimani and Okazaki
It has been a busy seven days for Slimani. He made his debut for their club in the Foxes’ debut moment in the Champions League, working to help Leicester to collect a 3-0 victory over Club Brugge. He then followed this up by making his Premier League debut in the King Power Stadium last Saturday, scoring two goals for the Foxes in their 3-0 win against Burnley.
He made some great contributions in his energy, the pace, connection to the style of play and ability to hold up the ball against Club Brugge. He was fantastic. On Saturday, he showed his effectiveness in getting the ball in the back of the net. In particular - the beauty of the second goal should not be ignored – a great pass by Rhiyad Mahrez to Vardy, who gave a great back heel flick into the air, which was placed beautifully for Slimani to head the ball into the back of the net. It was an incredible sequence, and one that we can only hope to see much more of. Thus far, Slimani looks to be exactly what you would expect of the record signing that he is.
Fast forward to Tuesday, and it was a special night for another striker for the Foxes. Who you ask? Here is a clue:
While the result may not have been what was hoped for, Okazaki had quite a performance as he scored the two goals of the night for Leicester City. We’ve discussed what makes the Japanese forward special – never giving up on the play and bringing great energy. His goals last night were an embodiment of this, as both goals came from tight angles on the right side of the goal. Was it the result that we hoped for? No. However, what he did last night should not be forgotten. He gave a brilliant performance.
Interesting squad selection
Before we get to the point here, let me just say this: I am not a Premier League winning manager (well, unless you count on FIFA 16). I will never profess to ever be one, and I am just one person that is passionate about a side. With that said, some things in last night’s match have stuck with me since the final whistle with the squad selected.
First, we saw Danny Drinkwater, Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson play the full 120 minutes. Normally, this may not be a massive problem, but with a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United looming on Saturday, it risks them having some very tired legs. Ultimately, whether or not this has a massive impact on them when they face off on Saturday remains to be seen. However, it does cause a bit of concern with such a big match coming on the weekend. That is a big match, that many fans and players will have circled. The Foxes will want to try have their best squad on the pitch to make that happen, and that could be with less than rested players.
Second, was the option to leave Marcin Wasilewski on when he earned that yellow card. We all love Wasilewski. He's a veteran, and he leaves it all out there. He is also an aggressive player, which at times plays out very well. However, against Chelsea, it did not, resulting in his sending off after a foul on Diego Costa in the 89th minute. With the Polish defender being the type of player, it should have at least crossed Ranieri's mind that it might be best to bring him off. Leaving him on shows hope and trust that he would not put the side in a difficult situation. Unfortunately, it did not play out that way. As much as we all love Wasilewski, that may have been a moment to remove that potential risk with the final substitution at that time.
The bottom line
In Claudio we trust - that is the mantra that I plan to go by, and have been since his arrival. None the less, some of what transpired yesterday made for some interesting food for thought moving forward with squad selection while having manage squad selection with the Champions League as a part of the schedule (a good problem to have).
It's been quite a week - some good, and some not so much. None the less, the Foxes are doing what they do best - giving everything they do their all, and with that same energy we all know and love. That is a good thing because there are two clubs waiting for them in their next two matches that provide a great opportunity continually remind them just how special they are. Cannot wait for Saturday to get here.
Up Next - The Foxes travel to Old Trafford to showdown with Zlatan Ibrahimović and Manchester United on Saturday before Leicester City host FC Porto in the first ever Champions League match in the KP Stadium.