Leicester City started the preseason with a convincing 4-1 win over Notts County, most of which was available to the public via an official livestream from the club (though technical difficulties rendered the first few minutes private for anybody away from the stadium). The goals came from Wes Morgan, Hamza Choudhury, Demarai Gray, and Islam Slimani.
The preseason is mostly a time for players to get back into playing shape after an extended period of time off. The results don’t count for anything, so attempting to assign value to scorelines is a futile endeavor. The general level of play is also traditionally a notch below that of the regular season, but that won’t stop me from trying to find valuable nuggets of information from players’ performances:
Who needs a Riyad Mahrez when you have a James Maddison?
Maddison was perhaps the best player on the pitch for the 45 minutes he spent on it. Of course, replacing Riyad - who made his debut for Manchester City yesterday - is no easy feat, but if 45 minutes of preseason play against Notts County is any indication (note: it’s not) “Madders” seems up for the challenge.
He was a creative presence in the final third and was aggressive with his play. The £22 million signing showed the soft touch and playmaking ability that make him such an exciting prospect.
Hello there, James Maddison.— James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd) July 21, 2018
The #LCFC newbie splits the Notts County defence to put Gray through.
Effort saved, but City's new No.10 looking bright already.
Perhaps most impressive was his quality as a set-piece taker. Maddison created several chances from corners, including one to the head of new signing Jonny Evans, and one that resulted in captain Morgan’s goal. He also crossed in a free kick that threatened the opposition and later took a direct shot from a free kick that came menacingly close to scoring. Now imagine this kind of delivery with Slabhead (Harry Maguire) in the box. Enticing.
Demarai Gray wants a spot in the XI
The young winger lives on the brink of a breakthrough. He has flashed so much potential in the last few years that it’s easy to forget he just turned 22-years-old in June.
He started this game and was tasked with being one of the points of the attack for the Foxes and displayed a calm approach for much of the first half. In the second, however, he pushed forward a bit more aggressively and ran directly at the defense.
He looked for his goal and curled one just wide after an impressive run in signature Demarai Gray fashion, but made up for it with a stunning solo goal moments later. He took on several Notts County defenders in a twisting and turning run down the left wing that ended with left-footed low shot across the keeper that found the inside of the far-post. The goal put all of Gray’s best qualities on display and reminded that no matter who City decides to spend the Mahrez money on, he will be fighting to take that spot.
Remember these guys?
A number of Leicester City afterthoughts got a chance to stake their claim for a return to the squad in this game. Nampalys “Papy” Mendy got a start in the midfield and performed admirably. He showed decent poise on the ball and made a few precise passes, but didn’t particularly standout.
After a string of substitutions in the second half there were several other “afterthoughts” on the pitch. The team’s fourth goal put this on display as it started with Bartosz Kapustka pushing the ball forward from the midfield and then playing it out wide to Daniel Amartey, who then whipped a cross past the far-post to Leo Ulloa who calmly cushioned it down for Islam Slimani to knock home. Not exactly the string of names you would expect to hear called during a Leicester City counter these days.
Most importantly (sentimentally at least), Andy King returned and once again donned the crest on his chest he belongs in.
His impact wasn’t just sentimental, either, as he did work all over the pitch in the second half. Is there a chance King, or any of the aforementioned players, could earn a their way back into the team? Many of them certainly helped their chances today.