Let me start by saying I’m still not sure how to rate these performances. Leicester City fell to Wolves in heartbreaking fashion as a 92nd minute winner capped off a rollercoaster of a 4-3 game. There was a lot of good in this one for the Foxes, but there was also plenty of bad. Seemingly every player who did something to push the team towards victory also did something critically damaging. It was a weird one.
Kasper Schmeichel - 6.5
Started strongly with a superb diving save on a long-range effort from Rúben Neves. Couldn’t do much the rest of the day, however, as Wolves’ goals came from mostly great chances.
Danny Simpson - 5
Got a surprise start and looked completely outmatched. He was beaten at the back-post (formerly the Danny Simpson special) for Wolves’ first goal and looked slow throughout the match. He was also unable to provide anything of substance in attack.
Wes Morgan - 6.5
The captain was one of the most prominent examples of a player balancing out his impact with both good and bad moments. He was at fault for Wolves’ third goal as he couldn’t keep up with Diogo Jota, but he also scored a goal with a tremendous effort to rise above three defenders to get his head to the ball on a free kick.
Harry Maguire - 5.5
Came off injured at the start of the second half after having been beaten to a ball on a corner resulting in Wolves’ second goal. It would be harsh to blame him entirely, however, as he was tasked with marking two men in his area and one of them simply out-jumped him.
Ben Chilwell - 6.5
Attacked frequently and dangerously, including a run that was crucial to the build-up of City’s second goal. However, he also could be partially blamed for Wolves’ winner as he was caught high up the pitch and couldn’t track down Raúl Jiménez before his winning assist.
Nampalys Mendy - 5.5
It would be hard to find his impact on the match on paper. He made exactly zero defensive interventions aside from two fouls (one of them being an early yellow), and hardly did much of anything in attack. He did manage to draw five fouls, however.
Wilfred Ndidi - 6
He was credited with three tackles, one interception, one clearance, and one key pass, but none of it felt very important to the flow of the game.
Ricardo Pereira - 7.5
He was perhaps the steadiest performer of the day for the Foxes as he avoided making any crucial mistakes, though he also failed to break through the defense in a decisive manner. Still, his general influence was large on both ends of the pitch with two tackles, two interceptions, two clearances, and a game-high four key passes.
Demarai Gray - 7.5
Started with a crucial mistake by giving the ball away for what resulted in Wolves’ opening goal. He recovered well, however, and was perhaps City’s most dangerous player in attack. He registered one key pass, four successful dribbles, six shots (three of which were on target), and scored City’s first goal in impressive fashion.
GOAL Leicester! Gray drills it home. pic.twitter.com/BIw4LLraML— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 19, 2019
Harvey Barnes - 6
He was mostly poor in the first half of his first start since returning from loan, but recovered a bit in the second half and showed flashes of quality including scoring City’s second goal, though it was officially credited as an own goal. He was subbed off in the 72nd minute.
Jamie Vardy - 7.5
Though Gray did most of the work for his goal, Vardy played a good pass to him and was credited with the assist. He saw more of the ball than he usually has this season and did well with it. He finished the day with two successful dribbles and three key passes, as well as one crucial late defensive intervention when the game was still in the balance.
Jonny Evans - 6.5
Came on for Maguire in the 47th minute. In his time on the pitch he racked up two interceptions and six clearances, but he also stuck a foot out to try and intercept the pass that set Jiménez free in the build-up to the winner and couldn’t reach it.
James Maddison - 7
Came on for Barnes in the 72nd minute and made his influence felt. He did waste a golden chance when the ball came to his feet in a dangerous area in front of goal and he hit it wide, but atoned after by whipping in the free kick that assisted Morgan’s goal.
Kelechi Iheanacho - 5
Came on in the 82nd minute and hardly did much of anything. He had just five touches.
The 23rd round of Premier League matches is over and a loss dropped Leicester City to ninth in the table. The thrilling nature of the game and attacking displays may quell some anger, but the result continues a troubling stretch for the Foxes.
As mentioned at the start, rating these performances was a challenge. Several City players were responsible for both critical mistakes and successes, and the match reflected that same feeling. Should Morgan be credited for his goal, or disparaged for the goal he allowed? Should Madders be criticized for his wasted opportunity, or praised for his assist? Or Barnes’ creation of a goal versus his rusty first half? What about Gray and his giveaway versus the fact that he was the most threatening Fox in attack? And how should these performances stack up against Vardy and Pereira, who were steady positive influences who didn’t land any real haymakers?
Still, a Fosse Posse Man of the Match must be declared and to tell the truth it’s a tough decision (I still didn’t know who I would pick until the completion of this sentence). In the end Demarai Gray’s constant attacking threat was perhaps the most positively impactful aspect of the game for City, so the MOTM designation goes to him. I believe that marks his first such designation of the season.