Leicester City topped Bournemouth by a score of 3-1 at the King Power Stadium on this sunny Saturday afternoon. An early stunner by Jamie Vardy was cancelled out by a Callum Wilson strike. Youri Tielemans struck just before half-time to restore the lead, and Vardy got his second in the second period to secure the three points.
The Foxes may have come in to the match placed fourth on the table, but they hadn’t really hit their stride yet so it’s no surprise that Brendan Rodgers switched things up again. Leicester lined up in a 4-4-2 with Kasper Schmeichel in goal and a back four of Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Çağlar Söyüncü, and Ben Chilwell returning at left back. The midfield four was composed of Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi in the middle with Marc Albrighton and Harvey Barnes on the wings. James Maddison lined up on top just behind Jamie Vardy.
The game got off to an absolutely flying start with both sides getting the ball up and down the pitch with pace and intent. The first ten minutes saw turnovers leading to breakaways leading to brilliant last ditch defending and pretty much everything except a goal. That lack would be made up for in short order.
Winning the ball in his own penalty area, Chilwell had time to look up and see Vardy level with a mere two defenders. The England defender did the maths and, recognizing that two defenders would not be a serious concern for the former England striker, he lofted a beautiful pass over the top. Vardy beat both defenders to the ball and, seeing the keeper off his line, lobbed a perfect ball over from 25 yards that nestled into the far corner.
In terms of style and quality, this is somewhere between Liverpool and West Brom. You know which goals I’m talking about.
Unfortunately, the lead would be short-lived. Bournemouth’s Scotland international and all-around pest Ryan Fraser wasn’t closed down just outside the area. He was afforded far too much time to spot Callum Wilson’s diagonal run across the area. Neither defender tracked the striker, who kept his cool and placed the ball perfectly just inside the far post.
The pace dropped a bit after the equaliser, going from “ridiculous” to “merely fast.” Maddison went close with a header from an Albrighton cross. Vardy tested the keeper with a low drive that was well held by Ramsdale. That’s not to say Ramsdale looked comfortable; his next involvement was to bounce a pass directly off the onrushing Vardy and he was fortunate to collect the rebound.
By the half hour mark the traffic was very much of the one-way variety. Vardy was terrorizing the back three and won a corner through sheer force of will. The Foxes kept winning the ball back and knocking it around the Bournemouth area in a move that resulted in Çağlar Söyüncü beating a defender at the edge of the box and trying to curl a left-footed shot into the top corner.
The Leicester lead was duly, almost inevitably, restored on 41’. Vardy was once again at the center of the action, this time as the provider. The former Fleetwood Town man ran on to the ball down the right channel and crossed the ball directly off of the Cherries’ Steve Cook. This allowed Vardy to collect the ball, dart into the area and send in a low ball across the face of the goal. Tielemans didn’t know much about it, but he didn’t have to with the entire goalmouth at his mercy. His touch put the ball just inside the post and gave the Foxes a 2-1 half time lead.
The second half started at a more sedate pace than the first. Let’s call it “brisk” as Leicester still had a good opportunity in the first 5 minutes. Tielemans picked out Madders in the hole behind the strikers, and the former Norwich man had perhaps too much space to pick his shot. He picked poorly.
VAR finally made its first appearance on 55’. Tielemans challenged Callum Wilson in the Leicester half and he would struggle to get it any more wrong. He missed the ball and landed on Wilson’s ankle. The referee didn’t see it so it went to VAR. After a lengthy delay, nothing was given but if we’re being perfectly honest (and aren’t we always?) I don’t think Youri could have had any complaints if he’d seen red for that one.
The Cherries were starting to get back into the game, going close through a sweeping move that ended with a blocked Adam Smith shot going out for a corner. Neither manager was satisfied with the run of play, so both threw the dice on the hour mark. Rodgers withdrew the tiring Albrighton for Demarai Gray while Eddie Howe threw Dominic Solanke and Jordon Ibe into the fray.
It was said in jest at first, a bit of a laugh... but Söyuncu is actually better than Maguire isn’t he? #lcfc— WTFox (@WTFox1884) August 31, 2019
I’m waiting for an attacker to anticipate one of those Cruyff turns, but until then? I think he might be.
Harvey Barnes had been nigh-invisible up until this point, but he came close to doubling the Leicester lead on 65’. Receiving the ball on the left side of the box, he forced his defender to back off and sent a low screamer towards the back post that was well saved by Ramsdale. Shortly after, Ricardo won the ball in acres of space on the right. He tried to release both Vardy and Maddison with a long curling pass, but the last defender got a toe to it to keep the Cherries in the match.
Rodgers made his second change, introducing Hamza Choudhury for Barnes. Not that Hamza was involved, but the Foxes doubled their lead almost immediately after his introduction so it was obviously a brilliant switch. A sweet passing move saw Leicester get numbers into visitor’s box. Maddison briefly lost the ball, but won it back by poking it directly to Tielemans. The Belgium international’s first-time ball to Vardy was inch-perfect, giving the striker a simple finish to get his first brace of the season.
It was nearly four goals as Demarai Gray embarked on a run reminiscent of his famous effort against Everton. He tore the entire Bournemouth defense apart before pulling it back for Maddison, whose shot was well blocked. At the other end, Schmeichel made his first save of the match, driving to his left to claw out a curling effort from Solanke.
Rodgers made his final change, giving Madders the last five minutes off and bringing on Christian Fuchs, allowing Chilwell to go into midfield and Choudhury not to have to pretend to be a left winger. Seven minutes of time were added on, but either Bournemouth were out of ideas or Leicester were great at managing the game, but there was no drama to be had during injury time.
More of that, please. The 3-1 scoreline was an accurate reflection of the run of play or perhaps even slightly flattering to a flat Bournemouth side. The shape worked, the lineup changes worked, and the substitutions were effective. All of these things combined to do what Leicester needed more than anything else: Get Jamie Vardy involved. When the former Stockbridge Steels striker is on song, there are not many defenses which can contain him.
Three matches without a defeat wasn’t especially heartening because we really hadn’t put together a complete performance, but we can check that one off after this match. Who looked good today? Everyone. Who struggled? Not a soul, although you could say that Schmeichel was largely redundant. It was such a lovely affair that I’m not going to try to name the top players, and I’m not just saying that because I can’t access WhoScored.com to see the stats right now.
I’ve known Denise for decades and she’s never steered me wrong. I’ll go with her choices here.
The victory brings the Foxes up to 3rd on the table with 8 points from 4 matches. Before we get too carried away with the table, we’re just ahead of Crystal Palace and West Ham in 4th and 5th respectively. Oh, who am I kidding, get carried away. We’re 3rd on the table so let’s enjoy it as long as it lasts and long may it last.
With the international break ahead of us, our next league match won’t be until mid-September when we face Manchester United at Old Trafford on the 14th. After that, it’s back home to the East Midlands to take on Spurs.