Between a tough win over Brighton & Hove Albion and a deserved loss to Newcastle United, the Foxes have endured a disappointing stretch at a crucial point in the season. Buried in these poor performances, however, were a few standout displays from Leicester City’s less prominent players:
Ben Chilwell: The young left-back may be hitting his stride. The game Chilwell played against Brighton may have been his best of the season. He was productive in attack and provided the game-winning assist, but more impressive was his dominant defending. He followed that performance up with a slightly less tidy offensive game against Newcastle, but his defending was once again a positive. This is the sort of momentum that could carry Chilwell towards reaching his vast potential.
Hamza Choudhury: Another young Fox stepped up when he was needed. Choudhury was thrust into a volatile situation when Vicente Iborra went down with an injury in the first half of the Newcastle match. His response to this was promising; he defended very well and made a few monumental last-ditch challenges. With the injuries and absences piling up in the midfield it looks like Choudhury will be an important piece for the Foxes moving forward.
Adrien Silva: The Portuguese midfielder was given a chance against the Magpies thanks to Wilfred Ndidi’s red card against Brighton. In my opinion, he put in a Man of the Match level effort. He showed all the qualities that make him a regular senior international and was one of the only Foxes to shine in that dismal affair. He won possession several times and seemed much more comfortable with it than he has in previous appearances. Much like with Choudhury, a current lack of midfield depth will likely make him an invaluable piece of the squad as the season comes to a close.
Demarai Gray: This season has been one of many ups and downs for Demarai Gray. In recent weeks he has once again found himself on the periphery, with his last start coming in early March against West Brom. Much is expected of the English winger, but it is easy to forget how young he still is. He joined the Foxes in January of 2016 and has been a semi-regular contributor since then, yet he is just 21-years-old as of the writing of this article. In very limited minutes as a late sub against the Seagulls he provided a pinpoint assist to Jamie Vardy. Gray followed that up with a similar level of efficiency against Newcastle; he was a 75th minute sub and did the heavy-lifting in the creation of Leicester’s only goal. These bursts of productivity are what make him such a tantalizing prospect.
Squad Health: The sky is falling.
Leicester City once seemed to have remarkable depth across the board (save for the right-back position). The deepest position, however, may have been central midfield. Wilfred Ndidi, Vicente Iborra, Adrien Silva, Matty James, and Andy King were all Premier League level talents at City’s disposal which created an issue of having too many options. Now, Ndidi will miss the next match through suspension, Vicente Iborra’s season may be over, Matty James’ season is definitely over, and Andy King is out on loan with Swansea (and possibly never coming back). Even backup right-back Daniel Amartey - who was originally a midfielder - is injured.
European Ambition: The Foxes have been in a fight for seventh place and the Europa League qualification that comes with it for some time now. It was all seemingly heading for a fate-deciding explosive clash with Burnley this coming weekend, as City trailed them by just three points in the table. Unfortunately, losing to Newcastle put the Foxes a full six points adrift. In addition to that, one of Leicester’s most important pieces - Wilfred Ndidi - will be missing from the match. It looks like the season may end with a thud rather than the bang we were all hoping for.
Marc Albrighton: Just recently Marc Albrighton was having a remarkable run of form and raising questions as to why he has never been given a senior international appearance for the Three Lions. While he is certainly still worthy of such discussion, his last two appearances in a Leicester shirt have not been up to such standards. He is perhaps City’s hardest worker on the pitch in games, yet he was surprisingly uninvolved against Brighton and Newcastle. He did little defensive work (usually a strength of his) in both games, and was wasteful in attack against Newcastle and completely uninvolved in attack against Brighton. Regardless, these are mere smudges on what has been a wonderful campaign for Albrighton.