Leicester City defeated Burnley by a score of 2-1 at the King Power Stadium on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the East Midlands. Former Fox Chris Wood put Burnley ahead, but goals by Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans on either side of half-time secured the three points for the Foxes. Burnley thought they had scored a late equaliser, but VAR ruled it out for a trip on Jonny Evans.
Kasper Schmeichel got the nod in goal behind the regular back line of Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Çağlar Söyüncü, and Ben Chilwell. Wilfred Ndidi lined up behind a midfield of Harvey Barnes on the left, Ayoze Perez on the right, and James Maddison partnered with Youri Tielemans in the centre. Jamie Vardy once again spearheaded the attack as the lone striker. The biggest change on today’s team sheet was that manager Brendan Rodgers has apparently been reading the Fosse Posse (and, to be fair, every other publication on the planet) and decided to play Leicester’s most creative player in a central position.
A beautiful minute’s silence has just taken place at King Power Stadium as we remember Khun Vichai and the four others who lost their lives last year.— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 19, 2019
There was a perfectly-observed period of silence prior to the start of the match to remember Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha to honour the anniversary of his death and that of four others at the King Power. It was followed by a very quiet opening quarter hour with Leicester dominating possession without ever actually looking like scoring.
The visitors had the first real opportunity on 17’. A long ball over the top found Jay Rodriguez one-on-one with Evans. The former West Brom....wait, they’re both former West Brom men....the Northern Ireland international did well for force Rodriguez wide, but Burnley got forward well, working the ball around the area. A deflected shot almost fell to former Fox Chris Wood, but he couldn’t react in time and Schmeichel was able to collect it.
This seemed to wake up the Leicester attack as the Foxes created several opportunities in quick succession. A Maddison corner was met firmly by the head of Çağlar Söyüncü, but the Turkey international couldn’t quite get it on frame. A brilliant run down the right by Ricardo saw a pull back fall to Barnes, whose shot was blocked. The rebound fell to Madders, but the former Norwich man put his close-ranged effort wide when you’d have bet the house on him to score.
The Foxes paid for their failure to finish almost immediately. Wood won a ball in the air and sprayed it out wide to Dwight McNeil. The winger was given far too much time to pick out his cross, which split Leicester’s centre-halfs and found Wood’s leap. The New Zealand international’s header was perfectly place and gave Schmeichel no chance of keeping it out of the back of the net.
On the half hour mark, the hosts forced Nick Pope into his first save of the match with a neatly-worked short corner routine. Madders played the ball to Ricardo, who found Tielemans in a central location. The Belgium man hit it from outside the box and forced a diving save from Pope.
I really hate the short goal kick routines, but Leicester made clever use of one on 38’ and nearly got a goal out of it. With three Foxes lined up around the box awaiting the start of play, Schmeichel faked a short pass and launched it long to Maddison. A clever touch from Madders sent Vardy off to the races with only the keeper to beat. The former England man took perhaps one touch too many, leaving himself a tight shooting angle and he could only contrive to fire it into the side netting.
As this is Jamie Vardy’s world, it was only a matter of time before he made up for the miss. A tidy move down the left allowed Chilwell to find Barnes, who beat his man and whipped in an inviting cross. Vardy rose above former Fox Ben Mee and planted his header past the stranded Pope and leveling the scoreline going in to the half-time break.
I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that Leicester held the ball for the entire first twenty minutes of the second half. Burnley defended deep and restricted the Foxes to several long range efforts which invariably flew well over the bar. A Madders free kick on the hour Mark found the wall, and turnover deep in the visitor’s area saw Ayoze blaze well over from fifteen yards out. The rest of the action was primarily knocking the ball around without creating many chances.
On 65’, Rodgers made his first throw of the dice by withdrawing Ayoze and introducing Demarai Gray in a attempt to inject some pace into the affair. The run of play remained roughly the same. Gray was just inches offside from a slick passing move which saw Leicester make four passes after the flag went up and eventually “scoring” with the Burnley players just sort of watching since, you know, the flag had gone up.
Dennis Praet was introduced for the tiring Maddison on 69’, but it was the other substitute who played a big role in the next Leicester goal. After a patient move down the right, Gray played a one-two with Ricardo and pulled back a low cross. Harvey Barnes, perhaps intentionally, played a dummy that put Tielemans in acres of space on the left side of the box. The Belgium man rifled an unstoppable shot into the top of the net, giving the Foxes a well-deserved lead going into the last ten minutes.
The hard work was nearly undone immediately. The Clarets went route one, with James Tarkowski flicking the ball on for Wood, who couldn’t possibly have miscued it any worse and screwed his shot wide with the goalmouth gaping. Rodgers sent Wes Morgan into the fray for his 300th Leicester appearance in an effort to tighten up the defense, sacrificing Harvey Barnes from the attack.
For people wondering why Morgan was bought on, it was to deal with Wood. He was causing us problems 2nd half. #lcfc— Marky Mark (@mnorman1985) October 19, 2019
You don’t say? I thought it was because he’s my mum’s favourite.
Burnley had the ball in the back of the net on 81’. Another cross from the left found Wood alone in front of goal. His control let him down and the ball caromed off of him into Schmeichel, back into Wood, into Evans, and into the back of the net. Evans attempt to retrieve the ball was cut short by a very slight trip by Wood. Referee Jon Moss gave the goal, but VAR took a look and determined that Evans would have been able to prevent the goal had he not been tripped, so the goal wasn’t given.
We got very, very lucky there.
I presume that Leicester have practiced this three-at-the-back formation, but you wouldn’t know it from watching the last ten minutes. There was a sense of panic every time Burnley came forward, and as we gifted the ball back every time we won it, they came forward frequently. Jon Moss produced a yellow card for Matt Lowton for no apparent reason because he’s Jon Moss and that’s the sort of thing that Jon Moss does.
Things just sort of fizzled at the end, but fizzling was very much what we wanted and the match ended with Leicester taking all three points.
First things first: I am not at all certain that VAR made the right call in ruling out the Burnley goal. I am sure that I would be furious had a Leicester equaliser been ruled out for a similar infraction. I’m happy to get the three points, but that was a very, very close call and if I were a Burnley supporter, I’d feel hard done by the decision.
With that out of the way, that was a great reaction from Leicester. We lost a tight one to Liverpool two weeks ago and there was some drama over the international break, but the team were able to put all of that behind them and dig out three points against one of the best-organized defensive units in the top flight.
Both goalscorers had fine matches, particularly Tielemans, whose passing was on-point this afternoon. For me, though, the standout player had to be Ricardo. This is a Leicester side that has struggled to break down determined defenses in the past, but we looked more patient and more confident today and much of that was down to Ricardo’s work on the right.
The win brings us up to second on the table with 17 points from 9 matches which is pretty good. How good? It’s “better than the year we won the league” good. Our next match is on Friday, away to Southampton. It’s the only match that won’t be played during NBC’s visit to your humble writer’s home town of Austin, Texas, and I am not bitter at all about this. After that, we face Burton Albion in the League Cup at the Pirelli Stadium on Tuesday the 25th.