After a dominant 2 – 1 win in a midweek fixture versus Spurs, Leicester City remained at the King Power for a visit from a surprisingly strong Burnley club that entered the match sitting in sixth place in the table. Before their visit to Leicester, Burnley allowed only 11 goals all season, good enough for third best in the league. The Foxes potent attack quickly put a dent in the Clarets’ goal differential.
There were two pre-match changes to the team since the victory over Tottenham. One by Riyad Mahrez:
The second came from manager Claude Puel, who replaced Shinji Okazaki in the starting lineup with Demarai Gray. Prematch, Puel explained the reason for the change:
CP: “Okazaki played very well in midweek, but I wanted to see Gray because he has worked well in training. Sometimes it’s good to change things between difficult games.” #LeiBur— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 2, 2017
It only took six minutes for the manager’s lineup adjustment to pay dividends. After Nick Pope slapped away a cross from Mahrez, a hard-charging Gray drove the rebound home giving the Foxes a 1 – 0 lead. Unfortunately, Gray was so focused on scoring that he hit the frame of the goal after the ball hit the back of the net.
Luckily Gray was not injured, and was able to continue in the match.
Burnley had a great chance to equalize in the 12th minute as a Wilfred Ndidi clearance attempt deflected right to a wide-open Chris Wood. But a fast-thinking Kasper Schmeichel was quicker to the ball than Wood, and the keeper’s touch allowed Danny Simpson to clear the danger. Burnley remained on the front foot determined to equalize, but an injury to Robbie Brady in the 26th minute took some drive out of the Clarets’ attack. Prior to Brady’s injury Burnley had managed to earn five corner kicks in the first 23 minutes of the match. The Clarets were not able to earn another corner until the 62nd minute, and only earned two more corners overall.
The second half was as entertaining and wide open as the first, with each side constantly driving deep into the opposing side of the pitch. Leicester was able to win three corners in the first 12 minutes of the half, but was unable to add to their lead off these opportunities. Burnley was also able to get forward early and often, but Jeff Hendrick was called offside twice in the span of four minutes deep in Leicester territory in the beginning of the half, stopping those Clarets attacks.
Leicester had three great chances to score in the second half, but were not able to convert on any. The first came in the 58th minute when Mahrez found Jamie Vardy on a deep ball, but a sliding tackle from Burnley’s defense was able to thwart Vardy’s effort at his 50th Premier League goal.
Another opportunity presented itself for the Foxes in the 72nd minute and it was again created by Mahrez, who drove into the opposition’s penalty area and found a wide-open Gray. The forward’s first-time shot was out of Pope’s range, but struck the far post hard enough to make the home crowd gasp.
Finally, in the 80th minute a brilliant Ben Chilwell cross found Vardy right in front of goal. The striker tried to flick the ball past Pope for what looked like a sure score, but Pope was able to deflect the shot away.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson had Burnley’s best chance in the half after breaking free from Wes Morgan and finding himself one on one with Schmeichel. Unlike Wood earlier, Gudmundsson managed to get off a shot, but Schmeichel was able to stick out a leg and make the save. The ensuing corner was unsuccessful for the Clarets.
In the end, Gray’s early strike proved to be enough for Leicester City to earn three points, and for the Foxes to win back-to-back matches at the KP for the first time this campaign. The win also extended Leicester’s fine form in accumulating points, as the Foxes earned at least one point for the seventh time in the last eight matches. Regardless of what happens the rest of the weekend, Leicester City will remain in ninth place in the Premier League table.
The Foxes next match is Saturday 9 December at St. James Park versus Newcastle United.