1) Wins like this aren’t the memorable ones but they’re some of the most important
This was a game that a previous version of us (maybe even during the restart) probably would have lost, or at least drawn. Which makes it all the more pleasing that we shut Wolves out of it. They’ll feel unlucky not to get a point but for the Foxes, this is three of the biggest yet this campaign.
It’s still early in the season, but there is a tougher edge to this team. A unity again in the squad that’s a throwback to 2015/16. That’s not to suggest a repeat of that campaign is incoming, but it bodes well for the tough months ahead. The real test on this squad will be around the busy Christmas period and if we can avoid a February slump.
Brendan Rodgers though deserves credit for the way he set up the Foxes today. Harvey Barnes not starting raised a few eyebrows, but it was a tactical ploy. James Maddison preferred over him, and both are not an option if you want Dennis Praet involved. Watching how well the Foxes began, Rodgers nailed the tactics yet again. Wolves are known for their defensive resilience and being hard to break down yet Rodgers’ side had them pinned in their own box for periods of the first half.
2) This may be a welcome international break for Brendan Rodgers
The timing of a win like this feels very satisfying. An injured squad turning around key Premier League games straight after Europa League games. With Jonny Evans visibly still having back issues, and Fuchs also taking a knock near the end, perhaps this is the first international break we won’t complain about.
Providing the travel and matches some of our side will play for the national teams doesn’t result in new injuries, we should come out the other side with a fresher looking squad and a couple of names back in the fit list. Timothy Castagne being one of them and possibly Ricardo Pereira too. It should give our defenders a much needed break and healing time for the older units in there. Christian Fuchs in particular, who’s been enjoying his recent run but would benefit from a rest.
Providing well planned, equally effective tactics and formations for consecutive games will cement you as one of the top coaches. Perhaps Rodgers deserves even more of a nod then for doing this while having to make some concessions to ideal personnel. It’ll be fascinating to see how he handles the challenge of having more choice as we move towards the end of 2020.
3) Whoever said Kasper Schmeichel isn’t still at the top of his game was wrong
For reasons that confuse me, Kasper Schmeichel always seems to have one or two pockets of Leicester fans seeking his replacement. Clearly it’s something we’ll have to address eventually, I don’t believe Danny Ward is the solution, but for now, our big Dane is just as reliable between the sticks providing you can allow him the usual one goal-kick in a game that is slightly wild.
Wolves didn’t create the amount of pressure on Schmeichel’s goal as they’d have liked but it didn’t mean our captain had nothing to do. He had to make one or two fairly comfortable saves in the first half but was only really tested when the away side started to get on top in the second half.
When he was called to action, the biggest save he had to produce was superb. It looked great on a first replay, but if you can find the angle directly looking at the goal, it looks even better. He denied Ruben Neves from equalling the game at a crucial point and deserved to finish the game with a consecutive clean sheet thereafter. One of the few good points of no fans is how often you can hear Kasper barking out his commands and generally just yelling encouragement. What we might lose from Wes Morgan moving into a more executive role next season will be safe in the hands of Schmeichel.
4) I know it feels like we say this every game but Wesley Fofana is so, so good
Wesley Fofana at #lcfc one of the signings of the season so far. Only 19 but a huge talent. Ridiculous that he’s only made 29 starts. The £30m fee looking a bargain already— John Percy (@JPercyTelegraph) November 8, 2020
Perhaps by now, this is cheating to even call out as a lesson, but before it just becomes the expected thing for him to look so good, it feels worth saying it again. He’s nineteen for crying out loud. You can see why Claude Puel tried every trick in the book to keep him. It’s looking like we ripped Saint Etienne off by paying them under £60 million.
It’s not even how many times he’s exactly where you need him to be, two crucial interceptions and tackles that never looked at risk of conceding a penalty against Wolves, it’s his fearless attitude. It looked apparent on his debut, but he’s so confident and calm. His surging runs forward today with the ball showed another side to his game. On Instagram this week, Wes Morgan declared him a young King and it feels fair. It’s scary for our opposition to consider he’ll only improve and hasn’t played yet as part of our full-strength back-line.
Of course, there is a downside to how great he’s looked. He won’t be the only one, it’s already well underway with Harvey Barnes and even with Rodgers, but he will start to get linked to big clubs and talk of ‘that next big step’ which continues to frustrate Foxes fans.
5) The defence may get the plaudits, but our midfield yet again delivered as Mendy hits a milestone
It’s not exclusively a trait for our midfield, see James Justin, but almost all of them have had to play a role this season that’s not entirely in their comfort zone. Wifred Ndidi started the season in centre-back and actually didn’t look too out of place, Youri Tielemans has needed to play deeper, Hamza Choudhury needed to learn to play a less physical game and Dennis Praet has been out on the wing. They’re an adaptable bunch and maybe none more so than Nampalys Mendy.
I'm pretty certain Nampalys Mendy is just prime Kanté in disguise. #LEIWOL— Spursleif (@spursleif) November 8, 2020
Wolves marked Mendy’s 50th Premier League game. Considering my revelation of realising he played in the 5-0 loss to Porto back in 2016, it’s amazing he’s only just got there. But he has more than filled in for Wilfred Ndidi in the defensive midfield role, getting forward where appropriate but primarily leaving that to our Belgians. What Mendy does isn’t the glamorous parts and it’s why he’ll get some credit but maybe not as much as he deserves. It’s hard to say what has finally clicked into place for Mendy. Possibly another one Rodgers deserves credit for, because he could so easily have left and things might have been a lot tougher for us.
A word again for both of our Belgians too because boy, they did a lot of running. Bringing off Praet seemed sensible given the amount of end to end running he did but he was superb again. In the first half he linked up well down the right flank with James Justin and looked dangerous when putting in the crosses. He’ll be grateful for the somewhat lucky, but rule-adhering handball having been on the receiving end of one going against him last season.
This gif reaction perfectly sums up Praet in our last few games.
Bonus Learn: Not sure if all viewers got a glimpse into the tunnel pre-match outside of Sky Sports’ UK coverage, but it was interesting to see James Maddison taking a very vocal role. Deep in conversation with Praet and with Vardy, talking tactics, plays and moves. In an interview released ahead of the game, he talked of his love for all things Leicester City and watching him like this really cements that. Future Captain material.