The summer has gone very well so far for Leicester City. Their main transfer targets were sorted out and completed nice and early, with no key players lost (so far). The Foxes are unbeaten in preseason and more importantly without major injury.
With just the one game left to go before the Premier League kicks off, and against strong opposition like Atalanta, we should get a good look at how ready the team is to get off to a hot start.
1. Who starts at CB?
This one was always going to be a talking point, but we now at least know that Harry Maguire will not be taking part. The England international had featured in every game so far, including 90 minutes in the “first” team next to Jonny Evans.
It’s important that a CB pairing has time to get on the same page; with Maguire’s future at the club in doubt, Rodgers will want to test out his new first choice duo together.
Harry Maguire has been left out of Leicester's squad for Friday's friendly against Atalanta, amid #mufc transfer interest. I fear this one is going down to the wire... #lcfc https://t.co/UyyVOwAnWJ via @telefootball— John Percy (@JPercyTelegraph) August 1, 2019
Oddly enough, Wes Morgan has not played a minute on the same pitch as Evans this summer. Despite regular mixing of the teams, only Maguire and Çağlar Söyüncü have had a chance next to the former Manchester United man, who will surely retain of the the starting spots.
If Rodgers opts to stick with the Turkish international, it would be a clear indication that he’s the next up after Maguire. Meanwhile we’d all like to see that him and Evans take the opportunity to gel as a partnership.
2. Create chances for Vardy (and Perez)
Ayoze Perez got the Foxes’ preseason scoring started in the first game, with Vardy netting in the next against Cheltenham. Since then, the play has continued to be good, but neither of the players we’ll be looking to score the bulk of our goals has had many chances.
The result of the game doesn’t matter at all and nor really does Vardy’s finishing. Yes, he can be a bit streaky, but we should all trust him to score Premier League goals by now. What I really want to see from this game is the creative duo of Tielemans and Maddison in particular getting Vardy the ball, on the ground inside the penalty area as often as possible.
There’s also a bit of value in Vardy at 20/1 for the golden boot. He’s going to get the most service he’s ever had this season, and his workload will be a lot less than the main contenders in the betting, with no European fixture congestion to worry about.— Roy Bennett (@ThriveRoy) July 29, 2019
There are few better than him in that situation, but we’ve not seen it enough at times. We have the players who can do it, so let’s see it working.
3. A role for in form youngsters
Kelechi Iheanacho has suddenly found his lost confidence, and with it his form in front of goal, bagging three in the last two games. As above, I still expect to see Vardy and then Ayoze Perez as the first two options up front, but can Rodgers find a way to get the Nigerian on while he’s in the mood to score?
Level at the break. Rotherham keeper Daniel Iversen, on loan from City, has been sensational here. Foxes took the lead through Iheanacho. #NCFC loanee Carlton Morris equalised. City would be home and dry had it not been for the impressive Iversen. Harvey Barnes standing out.— Jamie Kemble (@JamieKemble) July 27, 2019
Meanwhile, it sounded like Harvey Barnes was as good, if not better than Nacho in the 2nd team game against Rotherham. Unfortunately for him, Perez looks likely to start on the right, while Marc Albrighton is the man in possession on the left and was excellent against Stoke.
Barnes’ speed and desire in pressing are a great fit for Rodgers’ system and we know he’s got goals in him. If he can’t win that starting spot for Friday, I’m interested to see how early he’s brought on and whether he has enough time to stake his claim for the Wolves game.