With other results going our way, Leicester City have bounced back up to 3rd place with a home win against a hard to beat Burnley side. The Foxes were really made to work for their points, and here’s what we can take from the game.
1. There’s a star man, he plays in blue and white
Youri Tielemans got out the blocks a bit slowly after his big money summer transfer, at least compared to his lightning fast start to last season’s loan. He seems to have put that behind him, and definitely stepped up as the team’s star man on Saturday.
The Belgian’s distribution stood out all game. He only completed 75% of his passes, but sometimes it’s not about that. Burnley’s defensive style puts the impetus on our midfield to be more aggressive, knowing that lost possession is less likely to hurt us, and also that more ambitious play is needed to break through.
Youri did just that, but even more importantly managed to cap off the performance with a display of his greatest trait: unwavering patience. When Gray’s cross fell to his feet, Tielemans had so much time to get the ball away, and he took every bit of it before lashing his shot into the top corner.
He thinks he'd blow our minds ⚡️— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 19, 2019
Youri's match-winner this afternoon... pic.twitter.com/p2PuYn7xMo
That kind of calmness under pressure is something the Foxes have often lacked, but that Tielemans has in spades. Maddison may create and score more goals in the end, but Youri could develop into a Cambiasso-like influence.
2. End product is coming
Harvey Barnes is a very exciting young player with pace, power and a love for cutting inside to shoot juuuust wide. Demarai Gray is 18 months older, but also excites with his speed, acceleration and love for cutting inside to shoot juuuust wide.
As fun as it’s been to watch them nearly score, or nearly create chances, it was even better to see both actually achieve it against Burnley, whipping in good crosses to create the two goals.
I think that was an important game for us today. It wasn’t an easy one, as you saw, but to come out with the three points in the end is massive - Barnes talked to lcfc.com after the game
The wing has been a problem area and one cross each is not enough to change that. Barnes still looked lost and lacking any connection to his teammates at times. The word “Schlupp” has been thrown around. It’s made all the more frustrating as Marc Albrighton languishes, unwanted, on the bench.
Still, there’s good reason for optimism, particularly for Barnes who has still played less than a full season at this level. Even after more than 100 appearances for the Foxes, Gray has shown a big step up in his game recently with his improved defensive work. Both are still a work in progress, but we are seeing progress.
3. Finding ways to win
There’s no doubting that Leicester weren’t at their best this time. The Foxes dominated the game, but created less than one expected goal. At the other end they only conceded one, but struggled to deal with a powerful striker.
When we look back at this game in the future, I think all we’ll remember is that they found a way to take all three points.
Jamie Vardy has now scored 86 Premier League goals, that’s more than:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 19, 2019
Fernando Torres (85)
Eden Hazard (85)
Cristiano Ronaldo (84)
Carlos Tevez (84)
Just 1 behind Dennis Bergkamp. pic.twitter.com/qFlfWEtUnz
Of course, finding ways to win a game is much easier when you’ve got Jamie Vardy on your side. His first time in on goal, the former England man took one too many touches and couldn’t put it away from a tight angle. His second would be his last against a strong and organised defence, but he never needs many.
Vardy is up to 4th in the league with 6 goals, but has been provided fewer and lower quality chances than all of the others on the list. As long as he's here, there will be a way to win games, but maybe we should focus less on half chances for Maddison from 25 yards, and start getting the ball into a genuine world class goalscorer.