Leicester City totally dominated a poor Newcastle side at the weekend, sticking five past the hapless Magpies. It was a strong performance throughout the team, and here’s what we can take away from it.
1. Wilfred Ndidi: he’ll take the ball from you
You might not be surprised to hear that the Foxes dominated possession pretty successfully, holding their opposition to just 31%. Through a full game, that makes about 28 minutes of Newcastle possession.
In that time, Wilfred Ndidi made a combined 14 tackles and interceptions. If we just look at their time on the ball (the only chance he gets to win it back) he took the ball from them once every 120 seconds. Really no wonder he won MOTM before he scored.
GOAAAAAAAAAAL IT'S NUMBER 5️⃣! pic.twitter.com/gRTCAVue0B— BBC Leicester Sport (@BBCRLSport) September 29, 2019
A standout game for Wilf, but not that far out of line with what we’ve come to expect. He leads the Premier League in tackles and assists per 90 minutes played. He’s also on the highest total for both categories, despite missing a game.
Again, this is all on a team that’s had more than a 50% share of possession this year. It may go some way to explaining the confidence they attack with. Feel free to try something positive; if you lose the ball, Wilf will just take it back.
2. What more can Albrighton do?
This isn’t intended to bash Ayoze Perez, who I thought had a decent game. He worked hard for the ball, but Albrighton, who’s effort is always equally good, had as many defensive contributions in just 33 minutes.
In that time, he also led the the team in xA, although most of that came from putting the fourth goal on an unmissable platter for Vardy. His short passing and link up might not be quite the same as Perez, but his crossing is always worth a place in the team.
The perfect cross doesn't exi-— Leicester City (@LCFC) September 30, 2019
I also can’t ignore that he’d bring a better balance to the right side of the team. One of the reasons Barnes and Chilwell can combine so well on the left is that Barnes’ tendency to cut inside towards goal meshes so well with his fullback’s desire to make overlapping runs.
Ricardo can do some damage cutting inside, as he did to open the scoring. On Sunday Perez wanted to occupy similar areas and it was often left to Praet to get wide. Albrighton’s natural game would fill that gap perfectly.
3. Breaking down defences without Maddison
With our best playmaker missing, there were some very reasonable concerns about how we’d find a way to break through their parked bus. Let’s call those concerns answered for now.
As you’d expect, Newcastle were willing to give up ground and play narrow, ceding possession to Chilwell and Pereira, who combined for 267 touches. Still, the Foxes were able to take control of the middle of the field as well.
Youri Tielemans really stepped up in the absence of his midfield partner, regularly taking the ball in the final third and making the right pass. Though he didn’t create many good chances this time, he moved the ball intelligently and put others in position to do just that.
All without Maddison too. Big creative boots to fill for Praet but thought he was unassumingly excellent. Tielemans starting to purr again too. #LCFC— James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd) September 29, 2019
He’s struggled when Maddison was pushed wide before, but it seems it’s not about a specific player. The key is to pair him with someone else comfortable getting on the front foot and his partnership with Dennis Praet was excellent throughout. Their chemistry was evident and you’d never believe it had been years since they played together.
The end result of their play was a game where Vardy had 7 touches and 4 shots inside the opposition penalty area. It might not sound like a lot, but he really doesn’t need much.
4. Ricardo Pereira
Bonus round because they were too good. Pereira was an unstoppable force going forward, calm and composed whenever required at the back. That’s not really a lesson because we already knew that, but I couldn't not mention him.