Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers fought to a richly-deserved 0-0 draw in the early match on Sunday morning. Wolves had the ball in the back of the net early in the second half only for it to be chalked off by VAR. Neither keeper had much to do as both sides looked energetic but sloppy in the opening match of the new season.
Good morning and welcome to the Fosse Posse’s 2019/20 match reports. It’s my honor to one again bring you the sights, the sounds, and the smells of the East Midlands as Leicester City kick off their season.
Both marquee summer signings made Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI: Ayoze Perez and Youri Tielemans were handed their home debuts although in Tielemans’ case that’s a little misleading as he spent last spring with the Foxes on loan from Monaco.
Leicester lined up in a 4-3-3 with Kasper Schmeichel in goal, a back four of Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Caglar Söyüncü, and Ben Chilwell. The three-man midfield had a defensive bent to it, with Wilfred Ndidi and Hamza Choudhury on either side of Tielemans. The attack was spearheaded by Jamie Vardy with James Maddison on the left and Perez on his right.
While there were the expected opening match jitters, misplaced passes, and errant shots, the game started in a delightfully open fashion. Wolves set up to try to win the ball in the midfield and hit Leicester on the break, a tactic which afforded the majority of the possession.
Sometimes, when teams play wildly different systems, the chances will come in abundance and other times, they will just cancel each other out. This was very much the latter as both teams struggled to get the ball through the midfield and couldn’t find the final ball on the occasions when they broke into their opponents’ area.
Most good things for Leicester started on the right through Ricardo. The Portugal international created the best chance of the half with a fine lofted ball that Chilwell attempted to volley but instead scuffed the ball to Tielemans. The former Monaco man fizzed in a low ball across the face of the goal that had too much pace for Vardy to react to and turn into the net.
This time last year, the Foxes having the majority of the possession spelled almost certain doom, but they spent the entirety of the first half knocking it around smartly and looking the more dangerous side without actually being especially dangerous as neither team managed a shot on target in the first 45’.
Wolves managed just 31% of the possession, but they really should have taken the lead right before the whistle. Diogo Jota picked up the ball on the halfway line with only Schmeichel to beat, but he dallied, allowed three defenders to catch him, and wound up falling on his face without getting a shot off.
The second period started in worrying fashion as Wolves were able to break from a turnover and put Raul Jimenez clear on goal. He dallied and was only able to shoot directly at Schmeichel, but if Leicester were comfortable in the first half, the start of the second wasn’t inspiring much confidence.
The visitors thought they’d taken the lead on 50’ minutes. A corner swung in from the right found Leander Dendoncker, who headed the ball against Willy Boly and then volleyed the rebound past Schmeichel from close range. It looked for all the world like a good goal, but VAR determined otherwise, as the initial header came back off of Boly’s outstretched arm and the goal was overturned.
Wolverhampton had yet another chance just moments later, A ball over the top took out the entire Leicester defense and sent Jota on his merry way. The former Atletico man learned his lesson about dallying on the ball, but forgot the bit about “putting an uncontested shot on target” and contrived to shoot wide with only the keeper to beat.
With the game starting to slip away, Rodgers made his first change on the hour mark. Harvey Barnes was introduced for Choudhury, changing the formation to....look, I honestly couldn’t tell you what the formation was at this point. Let’s call it a 4-1-4-1 with Ndidi as the holding midfielder. Whatever it was, it seemed to be working as the Foxes won four corners in quick succession. Nothing came of them, but you could see Madders slowly dialing in the range and got the sense that, if we got six or seven more, we might score.
I’ve been critical of Soyuncu at times but he was imperious today. Defensively perfect and really composed on the ball.— Jordan Blackwell (@JrdnBlackwell) August 11, 2019
Not often Evans is outshone by his centre-back partner... #LCFC https://t.co/YfrqhTDQY4
Let me interrupt this match report to bring you a moment of pure Jamie Vardy. An exchange of play on the right saw a ball headed to Ricardo, who was in an offside position. The Wolves’ defense deigned to let the ball roll out of play, but it was going to stop before crossing the line. No one was doing much of anything, so Vardy ran across the pitch from the penalty box and bore down on the Wolves defender and conceded the throw while wiping the opponent out. There was no point to it, but it was absolutely glorious to see.
Ayoze’s debut came to an end on 75’ as Rodgers sent Marc Albrighton into the fray. It was going to be more of the same (only more so) for the final quarter hour as Leicester laid seige to the Wolves’ penalty area while the visitors defended in numbers and tried to hit Leicester on the break.
The last quarter hour wasn’t exactly the most compelling period of football you’ll ever see, but it did have its moments. There was a Jonny Evans bicycle kick that came off precisely as you are probably imagining it right now. There was an absolutely scintillating Barnes run into the box which forced a last-ditch clearance that could easily have wound up in the back of the net. But, for the most part, it was a visiting team happy to settle for a point and defend against a side that didn’t have quite enough nous to break them down.
In the end, a draw was just about the right result. Leicester created more chances while Wolves created the better chances, and neither side showed a great deal of prowess in the final third. We had 15 attempts to their 8, but the sides only managed 3 shots on goal between them. It was an entertaining match for a 0-0 draw, but it was a 0-0 draw nonetheless.
Did anyone really stand out? Ricardo was brilliant in the first half, and Ndidi bossed the midfield in the second. We looked most dangerous when Tielemans was on the ball and surprsingly less-so when Madders or Chilwell had it.
Söyüncü and Evans both played well, although they both were caught too far up the pitch from time to time.
All in all, this really wasn’t a bad way to start the season. A home draw is always disappointing, but outside of the first ten minutes of the second half, we were well in control. The last two seasons, we’ve struggled mightily to break down packed defenses and, while we obviously didn’t score against the Wolves, you could see how we might with a couple of better-placed passes and we also didn’t concede, so there’s cause for hope.
Do I need to say that the draw leaves us on 1 point from 1 match and we’re tied with a bunch of teams in the middle of the table? I guess I do. We’re off to Stamford Bridge next Sunday to take on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea and then we visit Bramall Lane to face newly-promoted Sheffield United on the 24th.