Leicester City lost their unbeaten start to the season and it probably came along with their worst performance so far, in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United. Here’s what we can take away from that.
1. Don’t change a winning formula
We’re going to have to stop saying this soon because there’s only so many different ways of repeating the same thought over and over.
This team plays better with either Wilfred Ndidi or Hamza Choudhury. Both are good players, both play a role that basically every team in the Premier League employs every week, but both are not required from the start.
Choudhury off for Perez. Playing him and Ndidi's backfired for Leicester when they could've had more of a go at United in the first-half. #mufc— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) September 14, 2019
James Maddison is pushed out wide, where he was ineffective. Youri Tielemans lost his partner, which we’ve seen hurts his build up play. Demarai Gray, who has always been more impactful as a substitute came in for Marc Albrighton, who had done nothing to lose his place and was poor throughout.
We spent the first 4 games (plus the cup) figuring out that last year’s system is still the best one. Why change that for a Manchester United side, who haven’t looked nearly worth the respect Brendan Rodgers gave them so far.
2. Vardy needs the ball to score
I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to play 45 minutes of football and get just 4 touches. I’d have taken the ball and gone home.
In the second half, Vardy was much more involved, so that’s good, right? Well not really. He was more involved because he dropped deeper and deeper looking for any chance to get on the ball. He had more touches in his own half than in the box, and 13/17 were in the middle third of the pitch.
We regroup and move on. Thanks to those of you that travelled, brilliant as always @LCFC pic.twitter.com/urgQaecXaV— Jamie Vardy (@vardy7) September 14, 2019
We already had Ndidi, Choudhury, Tielemans, Maddison, Pereira and Chilwell to get on the ball there. For all of his qualities, Vardy is not a precise passer or likely to pick apart a defence. He should be involved in build up play as late as possible.
It’s not really his fault he had to come so deep. We’d all be just as frustrated at playing alone and ignored for so long. If you expect him to stay in the areas he can impress, you have to make a much bigger effort to get him involved.
3. You can be too careful
This takeaway is as much from the Norwich vs Manchester City game as ours, but it still applies. The Canaries, a worse team than ours, set up much more positively against the much better opposition, and were rewarded for it.
xG map for Norwich City - Manchester City— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) September 14, 2019
the defense is a problem right now for City pic.twitter.com/a9aCfpad1I
Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, sent the clear message to his team that he expected them to struggle against United, taking out a useful attacking player and replacing them with Hamza Choudhury, who is strong in some areas and...less so in front of goal.
He had as many touches in the box as Vardy, one more shot, and plenty more involvement in promising attacks. Every single one of those touches could have been Harvey Barnes, or Ayoze Perez or whoever.
The result was a very frustrating game to watch. While it seems overly demanding for a team still 5th, it’s been a very frustrating season so far, and it feels like it’s time to start putting some of that on Brendan Rodgers.
His selection has been a bit odd all season, and it certainly cost us points here. With Tottenham Hotspur coming to town next weekend, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a similar formation again. Hopefully he’s learned something from this.