Leicester City kicked off their 2019/20 Premier League season on Sunday, with a less than inspiring 0-0 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Still there were plenty of positives to take and a few lessons to learn.
1. Soyuncu and Evans will be just fine
There’s been talk about signing a defender all summer, but the deadline passed with Maguire gone and no replacement. Good thing then that we signed two nearly £20m replacements last summer.
Soyuncu put in a man of the match defensive display and the wheels he showed off make him a great compliment for Evans - a great defender technically and mentally, but by no means a standout physically.
It wasn’t perfect - they did concede a goal that was taken back and there were still a few mistakes, but it was a great start to build on.
2. Keep Tielemans and Maddison together
Brendan Rodgers threw us all a bit of a curveball an hour before kickoff, starting both Wilfred Ndidi and Hamza Choudhury in midfield. They played well, especially Wilf, but there really wasn't enough work for the two of them to do. The bigger problem, though, was the knock on effect to the rest of the midfield.
With Youri taking the third midfield spot, James Maddison was pushed out onto the left. We’ve seen this before, and it can work, but with Ayoze Perez coming in off the right the team was starved of width until Harvey Barnes’ introduction.
Well it was a tough game, they’re a difficult team to play against, playing five at the back, so it’s pretty tough - Perez found his debut...tough
Not only was the narrower shape more easily contained by Wolves’ back line, it also disrupted the growing partnership between Maddison and Tielemans. They interact so well and so quickly that their best work always comes when the two are closer together on the field.
Even away against a side like Chelsea, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a genuine wide player brought in for Choudhury, with Youri and Madders back together in the middle.
3. You won’t score from there
With the reduced creativity in midfield, the Foxes were unable to pick holes in the defence. That meant a pretty frustrating day for Jamie Vardy, who was held to just 18 touches, and only three inside the opposition box.
Regardless of whether they can work the ball into Vardy, this team really needs to learn to stay patient. Last year only two teams took a higher proportion of their shots from outside the area, and it’s a problem that has continued into the new season.
xG map for Newcastle - Arsenal— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) August 11, 2019
the Gunners' b-team struggled to do much of anything but one chance broke for Auba and he scored it pic.twitter.com/OmVwjeeVNn
Look at all those tiny blue squares (smaller square = less chance to score). In the end Arsenal managed a better xG total and, you know, an actual goal, from half as many shots. The secret is as simple as this: don’t shoot unless it’s actually a decent chance.
Sometimes it might feel like a waste of an opportunity, but if you hold onto the ball, the chances will come. Wait for the good ones.