Leicester City fell to Aston Villa by a score of 1-0 at the King Power on Sunday evening. The match appeared to be headed to a richly-deserved nil-nil final score, but Ross Barkley’s long-range strike in injury time gave the Villains the three points.
Leicester City currently have an injury crisis, compounded by a baffling number of defenders on loan crisis with a little “players who have fallen out of favor” crisis thrown in as well. Which is to say, anyone who correctly predicted Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI is either psychic or Brendan Rodgers. Kasper Schmeichel, the slayer of Mason Mount, got the nod in goal behind a back four of Timothy Castagne, Jonny Evans, debutante Wesley Fofana, and James Justin. Nampalys Mendy anchored the midfield between Youri Tielemans and the newly-fit Dennis Praet. Rodgers opted for an attacking three with Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes flanking Kelechi Iheanacho. James Maddison was deemed fit enough to make the bench, but the most notable addition to the matchday squad was surely the return of Islam Slimani.
If you didn’t already know I was going to link this, you just don’t know me at all.
The opening quarter hour was devoid of notable highlights, but it was not without pockets of interest. Praet and Evans lined up on the left side of their central positions, with Fofana and Tielemans on the right. The Villains attack was almost completely nullified by Leicester’s defense, with Castagne marking Grealish out of the game and Mendy breaking up everything in the midfield. The Foxes weren’t finding much more joy, but attacks down the right were getting behind the defense on occasion but failed to find the final ball.
It was an extremely tactical match with two well-matched sides cancelling each other out. Grealish switched sides to try to get away from Castagne and fashioned Villa’s first decent attack from a free kick. In response, Leicester launched another attack down the right and Iheanacho fired in a curling shot that had plenty of pace but was comfortably saved by Martinez.
The match started to open up a little after the half hour mark, with John McGinn and Ayoze getting yellow cards for dragging down their men from behind. If Leicester just edged the opening quarter of the match, Villa were perhaps slightly on top for the second as Grealish was starting to see more of the ball by staying as far as he could from Castagne. Matty Cash was next into the book for trying to remove Barnes’ shorts after the England man was past him, and Tielemans saw yellow for a late challenge in the Villa half.
The first half ended 0-0 and that was just about right. The Foxes had three shots on target to Villa’s none, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to the commentators who were apparently being paid by how many positive comments they made about Jack Grealish. He’s a fine player and all, albeit with a violent, petulant streak, but he was, according to whoscored.com, the 13th best player on the pitch in the first half.
The second half started with the sides and, unfortunately, the commentary team unchanged. The Foxes started more brightly, winning an early corner but failing to make anything of it. The Villains then picked up the pace while the Leicester defense started resorting to long balls over the top to...well, no one really. Villa won a succession of corners but Fofana and Evans dealt with them with relative ease.
There wasn’t a great deal at this point to differentiate the action in the second half from that in first. If I were a lazy(er) man, I’d just suggest re-reading the recap from the first half. Leicester made some forays down the wings and won a dubious free kick just outside the area but Tielemans’ shot was easily held by Martinez. Villa won some more corners but didn’t do anything interesting with them. The visitors did finally get a shot on target when Douglas Luiz had a free look from outside the area, but it was directly at Schmeichel.
Rodgers withdrew Praet for James Maddison. Madders’ first action was to win a free kick on the edge of the area. A second quick change was made, with Islam Slimani replacing Iheanacho. The free kick came to nothing, and Villa were off on the attack. Castagne won the ball cleaning off of Grealish, who fell to the ground in anticipation of contact. The Villa man then swung an elbow at the Belgium international. The referee quickly produced a yellow card...for Castagne for some reason.
Islam Slimani comes on for Leicester... never thought I'd ever type that again.— Jason Bourne (@JasonBourne1986) October 18, 2020
This can mean only one thing: Ahmed Musa incoming in 3...2...
Rodgers made his final change, sending Hamza Choudhury on for Mendy. The Foxes were on top, or at least, possessing of slightly more elevation, than the visitors. Neither team looked especially like scoring as the clock wound...up? In the U.S., the clock winds down, but that doesn’t seem right here. Anyway, in injury time, out of absolutely nothing Ross Barkley got free twenty five yards out and beat Schmeichel at the far post.
Well, that was awful. That game had 0-0 written all over it, which, given the injuries, would have been a decent result for the Foxes. We were slightly the better side through 90 minutes, but not by nearly enough to deserve the three points. It was a tight, tactical match and it’s hugely disappointing not to get a point from it.
I still don't understand why Rodgers continues to trust and use Ayoze Perez. #LeiAvl— Canadian Foxes (@LCFC_Canada) October 18, 2020
I get this, but Ayoze was really good defensively today and after what Grealish did to Liverpool, I can understand his thinking.
The refereeing was genuinely awful, as one would expect of Jon Moss, but strangely enough, it didn’t really affect the result. On the other hand, the commentators were the worst I think I’ve ever experienced. It’s not just that they were entranced with all things Villa and spoke endlessly about how they were the team creating chances in spite of the them having half the shots and literally none on target at the time. It was their deep, abiding love of Jack Grealish. Grealish is good, no doubt, but you’d never know there were any other Villa players listening to them. Truly dreadful stuff, and if you had to pay to listen to them, then my condolences.
The defeat leaves the Foxes with 9 points from 5 matches, good enough for 4th on the table. Next up, Europe comes to the King Power as we host Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League on Thursday. Premier League action resumes in one week when we travel to north London to face Arsenal at the Emirates.