1) White Leicester City kits and European football = synergy
Sure, I know I should start with the game but who didn’t see us walking out in that crisp, clean white kit and have Champions League flashbacks? Leicester City white kits and European football just have that kind of synergy.
It was especially fitting that Marc Albrighton started this game too. If you don’t associate him with the gorgeous pinstripe white kit, then go and do the research, now! The Foxes have enjoyed good days in white kits and this was another one. It wasn’t a vintage performance but we got the job done and Rodgers flexed his tactical muscles again to change it at the right times and keep AEK out of it.
2) Familiar faces remind us how hard they work despite reduced roles
There’s no sugar-coating it, a number of this side would not have started were it not for injuries, being terrified of more injuries and the sharp turnaround of fixtures. But it did look like a side with enough experience to get the job done. It was a lineup with a surprising amount of European experience with Youri Tielemans and the older, experienced Leicester heads of Vardy, Schmeichel, Fuchs, Morgan and Albrighton, it had ‘professional performance incoming’ stamped all over it.
Largely, the older players gave reliable performances too. Albrighton ran his socks off, as ever, and Fuchs and Morgan both had pretty solid nights for their lack of game time. It’s not a surprise from any of them. Albrighton has always been Mr dependable where effort and work ethic is concerned. We got a couple of his trademark crosses too. It’s not ideal for him to play a wing-back role, but it’s still good to have him around for games like this.
3) Just in time for Halloween, the Leicester defensive curse strikes again
Remember when Liverpool had a meltdown because Virgil Van Dijk, one player, is going to be absent for a while? Well, we’re now without five defenders after what’s been a rolling line of ‘which one is injured this time?’. Guess we didn’t get that curse lifted.
The latest injury is to Timothy Castagne. A hamstring injury will keep Timmy out until the next international break. Which wouldn’t be so bad, right? Except all of our other first choice right-backs are injured or covering another position. It was fantastic to see Ricardo travel to Athens and make the squad, but we can’t risk rushing him back either.
Considering the ramshackled approach to fielding a back-line, and trying to plan for a tough test in a few days against Leeds, it could have been worse. It wasn’t an outstanding display but it was solid enough. For the times Wes Morgan found himself outpaced, he made up for it with aerial dominance. Plus when everything else fails and AEK are allowed a good opportunity, we have Schmeichel there to cover us. His excellent save was a vital one.
4) The kids are alright (thankfully)
With a relatively young squad, we’re pretty dependent on our younger players already. Special mentions post AEK to Wesley Fofana who seems to be comfortable playing alongside anybody. This match marked his second different partnership in his first four games. This might throw off some nineteen year olds yet he seems utterly unphased by anything.
Our youngsters in defence are particularly important right now. James Justin has played almost every game and is having to cover a position that, for the Foxes anyway, is still new to him. He’s had a mixed start to the season, though a lot of that feels circumstantial rather than reflective of his efforts. Last night he had to slip into a back three at one point. He’s another one who doesn’t look for composure and confidence.
Luke Thomas was a little unlucky last night. Coming on at half-time, he deserved more than his forty-five minutes reflected. Instead of what would have been a superb assist, he was unlucky after threading through for Vardy, he ended up conceding a goal and finished with a very harsh yellow card. It’s been a little surprising that he hasn’t started more games for us, after deputising when Chilwell was injured, but he looked decent after our back-line settled into the second half.
This was a big game for another academy graduate too in Hamza Choudhury. This season feels make or break for him. At one stage we thought he might leave and, still here, it’s very much time to really step up or we might be in a similar position to how Demarai Gray is seen. Covering midfield to allow Nampalys Mendy and Dennis Praet some rest, it was a fine performance and a goal to boot! It was a well taken chance to really put Leicester in the driving seat.
5) The James Maddison, Jamie Vardy and Cengiz Ünder trio looks a fruitful partnership
Ok, so this game wasn’t hugely memorable, but it did mean a start for Cengiz Ünder at last. He’s looked very lively and keen to impress in his substitute cameos so this felt like an opportunity to make his mark. He’s used to European football like this from his time with Roma and seems to be getting to grips with the way his Foxes teammates play pretty quickly.
While not our best performance yet, some of the passing between our front three players was outstanding. This was probably the first game James Maddison looked 100% fit and it showed, he was back to his best, slipping through balls and creating chances. In theory, he even helped us score from a corner at last, yeah I know it wasn’t directly from it, but it’s still a win for us. It was Maddison who put Vardy through that resulted in the penalty.
One of the slickest pieces of football was Maddison through to Vardy and the ball sent ahead for the incoming bullet speed train that is Ünder. The Turkish winger really should have scored. It was a move that burned the AEK defence on speed and showed a promising possible partnership.
Although, deliberate or not, I’m annoyed by Ünder for the pre-match team photo. I retract the time I said every game needs this. Although props to Kasper for his enthusiasm.
Bonus Learn: There are worse officials out there than the ones we put up with in the Premier League! I’m going to be mad about one of the most pathetic bookings ever, poor Luke Thomas, for a long time. It was a game of soft free-kicks however this incident did give us one thing: Kasper Schmeichel kicking the crap out of the goal post. Shamefully nobody has made a gif of it yet.