Leicester City put in maybe their best 90 minutes of the season at the weekend, putting away AFC Bournemouth with a 3-1 win at the King Power stadium. Here’s what we can take away from that.
1. Form is temporary, Youri is forever
It’s been a slightly disappointing start to the season for Youri Tielemans. The big money summer signing has struggled to impose himself onto games as effectively as he did during his loan spell.
I’ve banged on and on through the early weeks of the season about playing James Maddison centrally. It isn’t just where he’s most effective, but was also key to his partnership with the young Belgian, and it certainly helped this time.
While he was still a little wasteful of good opportunities early on, Youri really came on as the game went. In particular, his ability to link up with Jamie Vardy was on full display.
Youri's first goal of the season pic.twitter.com/ZTU3yHjaA0— Leicester City (@LCFC) September 1, 2019
In the end Tielemans bagged 2 key passes and an assist, while getting onto the end of Vardy’s assist for a goal of his. That’s the Youri we paid for, and it could be what’s put us into contention for Europe.
2. Never forget Jamie Vardy
The above applies as much to defenders as it does to his own teammates. Bournemouth weren’t switched on to him early on, but Ben Chilwell was, and two touches later the ball had gone from the edge of our own box to the back of their net.
This finish by Vardy pic.twitter.com/UO4cpwShw2— Goal (@goal) September 3, 2019
It was the kind of goal that takes you back three years. Vardy’s nearly unique abilities can make a goal from anywhere at any time, and that ball should always be on the mind of his team.
Of course, he wan’t done there. The former England international was all over the final third of the pitch, getting far more involved than we’d seen previously. He hit the target with all three of his shots and came away with 2 goals and a assist, while leading both sides in xG and xA.
3. Albrighton is the new Okazaki
Shinji Okazaki came to Leicester and we immediately won the Premier League. From then on, a string of managers all tried to drop him and all came to the same conclusion eventually: he was never the best player on the pitch, but things just worked better when he played.
Marc Albrighton made his first appearance of the season against the Cherries. He did pick up two key passes (for just 0.08 xA) but otherwise didn’t stand out on the stat sheet, especially compared to those I talked about above.
It was very much a team performance, everyone fighting, running and impacting. The impact subs coming off the bench, Marc making his first start. There was a real intensity in our game, and everyone contributed - manager Brendan Rodgers talking to lcfc.com
However, he did put in the typical energetic, hard working performance you can always rely on him to provide. His final ball wasn’t quite there, but his presence brought a width to the team that they’d clearly been lacking so far.
Things just worked better when he played. Albrighton has many skills, but his best by far is just in getting the most out of those around him. For the foreseeable future, I’d play Albrighton whenever possible.