Leicester City finished off their season’s preparations on Friday night with a strong display in a 2-1 win over Atalanta. It was a nice result, a good performance and it answered a few lingering questions.
1. Maguire’s successor
Harry Maguire looks like he’ll be moving on to Manchester United by the end of the week. He’s a good player and we’ll miss him but, as we mentioned pre-game, it was key to take yesterday’s opportunity to get his replacement up to speed with Jonny Evans and the first XI.
Brendan Rodgers has options at centre-back, even without Harry Maguire. Caglar Soyuncu, Filip Benkovic, Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans. Still, from what we've heard from Brendan this summer, City will look for a replacement. Dunk, Tarkowski and Djene all linked. #lcfc— Jamie Kemble (@JamieKemble) August 2, 2019
Çağlar Söyüncü was the man given the chance and you’d have to expect that will continue on Sunday. The Turkish international had a pretty quiet game, with no real standout moments.
For some that would be a concern, but not Söyüncü. He’s shown great talent since arriving last summer, but has often been his own worst enemy with crucial mistakes. If he can keep them away as he did yesterday, he has the skillset to replace Maguire very well.
Evans meanwhile took his own chance to step up as the team’s best defender and put in an excellent display.
2. Patience for Perez
It was a rollercoaster introduction to the KP for new man Ayoze Perez. He worked hard defensively through the first half and got himself into some promising attacking positions, but he also gave the ball away a lot and wasted a few good chances.
Patience. Though he’s been here long enough that he already feels part of the furniture, this was just his 2nd appearance for more than 45 minutes and he clearly grew into the game.
Nice to meet you King Power Stadium! I think we are going to have fun together #lcfc pic.twitter.com/vptKUlJfLx— Ayoze Perez (@AyozePG) August 3, 2019
His opening goal was a fantastic piece of individual skill. He has the talent that we paid for, and he will make things happen for us, so let’s let it happen.
Unrelated to Perez really, but it was also great to see Vardy grab a goal too. There were promising signs as the team got both players on the ball in the box.
3. It’s a hard team to break into
Wilfred Ndidi will be rejoining the team in training in the coming days and will be available to face Wolves. The question is, does he jump straight back into the team? Hamza Choudhury has looked an excellent fit for this style and hasn't put a foot wrong.
If Wilf were to stay on the bench, he’ll likely be alongside several who’ve played well and pushed for a place that just isn’t available. Harvey Barnes has been excellent, but looks to behind Marc Albrighton in Rodgers’ view, and the ever-reliable 29 year old hasn't put a foot wrong.
It was a very unusual system, it’s something we’re not used to, but I think we adapted to it well in the second half and towards the back end of the first half. They are a very good side. They’ll be in the Champions League next year, but I think we definitely matched them and it’s a good learning curve for us - Hamza talked to lcfc.com after the game as was pleased with the performance
Kelehci Iheanacho seemed to put some of his woes behind him with three goals in his last two games, but couldn’t even get on as a substitute, so looks very unlikely to upset the current order. So too for Demarai Gray, Christian Fuchs and Adrien Silva, who all looked good but have next to no chance at a starting spot.
Unless a big change comes in via the transfer market, I wouldn’t expect too see many, if any, changes from that side to face Wolves on Sunday.