Leicester City equalled their all time top flight record with a 7th consecutive win, as they shrugged off Watford fairly comfortably. Here are some things we can take from the performance.
1. A little depth showing through
With Ben Chilwell missing, Christian Fuchs was forced into the lineup at the last minute. For most teams, a late injury to an international quality defender might be a concern, but not so for the Foxes, who still have the best backup LB in the league.
It’s been a while since he was a first team regular, but the Premier League winner proved that he absolutely still has what it takes. His positioning and defending were as a calm and assured as ever, but he also showed he can still turn and run with attackers as well.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuchs! pic.twitter.com/akGimWMrbz— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 5, 2019
There are very few people left who doubt the quality of Leicester’s first XI, but the depth is fair to look at. While 9 Foxes have played more than 1000 minutes this season, only 11 have played more than 355. That compares to 16 and 17 from Liverpool and Manchester City, although they have been forced by injury into some of that rotation.
As the fixtures pick up, Rodgers has had to use his depth a little more and they’ve all come through well. James Justin impressed a lot in his short appearance, while Dennis Praet, Kelechi Iheanacho and others have chipped in usefully.
2. A physical test passed
Very understandably, Watford weren’t interest in getting the ball on the ground and trying to outplay us technically, but instead opted for a much more direct plan, aimed at some physically imposing forwards (and Deulofeu).
Despite facing a very different challenge to that posed by the likes of Arsenal and Brighton in recent weeks, the defence came through dominantly. Watford tested Schmeichel just once, with a very tame 94th minute effort. They probably wouldn’t have scored in twice as long.
Early on, there were a couple of signs where it might have been a different challenge for Çağlar Söyüncü. He had one on him, but Watford petered out a bit in an attacking sense. As is always the case, Jonny Evans looked so unflustered – he really is a smooth operator - former Foxes captain Matt Elliott on Matchday Live
It wasn’t just the defence, who were challenged by the Hornets’ “physicality”. They were more than willing to break up attacks through whatever means necessary and the ref was happy to let it go.
Although some fatigue seemed to be left over from Sunday, the team kept up their intensity and once again wore down an opposition to the point that could dominate later on. The Foxes are up to an aggregate 25-2 lead in the 2nd half this season.
3. Ricardo Pereira does what he wants
This probably wasn’t the RB’s best day. Also, he had 93 touches (2nd on either team), 5 combined tackles and interceptions (2nd), 5 successful dribbles (1st) and 1 key pass - the 2nd best chance of the game according to xG.
He was the Foxes’ primary outlet down the right (despite being dragged to the ground on nearly every break) and ran at defenders brilliantly, despite neither Tielemans nor Perez having great games.
Thanks to the fans for the support + 3 points #LCLC #PremierLeague pic.twitter.com/dRbnzkVaLD— Ricardo Pereira (@ricbpereira) December 5, 2019
He also provided some excellent defensive moments, including a perfectly timed tackle to deny a dangerous break inside the penalty area. At either end of the pitch, with or without the ball, he does what he wants.
I’ll never get over how odd it feels to say this about a current Leicester City player, but here goes: his contributions at both end of the pitch give Ricardo Pereira a great argument that he’s currently the best player in the world at his position.