Leicester City controlled the flow for most of this weekend’s game against Sheffield United, coming away with all three points. They did allow the Blades back into it though, and it took a great goal from Harvey Barnes to break the tie. Here’s what we can take away from that.
1. Vardy is firing
Jamie Vardy’s scoring can be a bit streaky, with his impressive numbers sometimes countered by goalless runs. In all fairness to the man, it was impossible to judge his form before this game because no one would give him the ball.
Against United he still had just 17 touches and two shots on goal, but the difference was that those two shots came from the edge of the 6 yard box. Vardy stuck one of them away and is up and running on the year.
I think the Foxes’ midfield needs to get a little more aggressive in feeding him. I understand the desire for a more patient approach, but they’re not all at the best right now and are struggling to produce those chances.
When you play with Jamie Vardy, hitting that first time ball past the defence should always be on your mind.
2. Perez finding other ways to contribute
Ayoze Perez has been a little disappointing on the ball so far, especially after the promising signs we saw in preseason. He’s lost the ball or broken down the build up play a few times, and isn’t balancing that with goals or assists.
It’s not the contribution you’d hope from a £30m signing, but I think Brendan Rodgers should persevere and hope that he will fit into this team once he’s taken a little bit of time. Fortunately, he is finding other ways to show his value on the pitch, particularly with his defensive contribution.
Perez covers a lot of ground pressing the opposition defenders, and occasionally covering for Ricardo Pereira. He’s not always successful with them, but the Spaniard has attempted the 4th most tackles on the team so far.
The importance of that was shown most clearly with the Foxes’ first goal on Saturday; Perez chased down a defender, won the ball high up the pitch and set the team away in a dangerous position. If he keeps that up, we don’t really need the assists.
3. More Barnes, please
Harvey Barnes came on and won the game with a wonder strike. You could argue his ability to do that is reason enough to get him on the pitch as much as possible, though Rodgers might want some evidence it’s repeatable first.
What is clear, and has been repeated through the first three games, is that the Foxes are desperate for width down the left. Bringing in Praet to play on the left-ish allowed Maddison to control the game from the middle, culminating in an assist from the dead centre of the pitch, but I think more needs to be done.
To go back to Perez for a minute, he can play that position, but he’s not an out and out winger. I don’t think that would be a problem for him, or the team, if they were balanced a wide forward like Barnes on the left.
Perez prefers to drift inside, but right now he knows that if the team wants any width at all, he has to hug the right touchline. Hopefully Chilwell’s return will help there, but I’d like to see Barnes given a run and, you know, playing the system that worked so well last year.