Leicester City saw off Burnley by a score of 4-2 at the King Power on Sunday evening. A first half opener by Chris Wood was cancelled by Harvey Barnes’ first goal of the season. The Foxes put three past the Clarets in the second half with goals from James Justin, Dennis Praet, and an Erik Pieters own goal. Jimmy Dunne got one for the visitors but it wasn’t enough to prevent Leicester from getting their second win on the trot.
Manager Brendan Rodgers starting XI was unchanged from the side that dispatched West Bromwich Albion 3-0 last Sunday. Kasper Schmeichel started in goal behind a back four of Timothy Castagne, Wilfred Ndidi, Çağlar Söyüncü, and James Justin. Nampaly Mendy anchored the midfield between Youri Tielemans and Dennis Praet. Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes manned the wings and Jamie Vardy got the nod up top. Wes Morgan made the bench, but the match came too soon for new signing Cengiz Ünder to be in the squad.
The first ten minutes were short on action as both sides demonstrated their preferred style of play without approaching the desired result. Leicester knocked it around smartly without threatening the goal, while Burnley knocked the ball over the top to the Foxes centre-halfs rather than their own strikers. In other words, pretty much what you’d have expected of the opening exchanges.
The Clarets took the lead somewhat against the run of play on 10’ mark in highly controversial fashion. Dwight McNeil pulled it back for Charlie Taylor on the left wing. The defender wasn’t adequately pressured and he launched a cross to the far post towards former Fox Chris Wood. The New Zealand striker appeared to take the ball down with his left arm while pushing Justin aside with the other. He then lashed home from close range, giving Schmeichel no chance.
Chris Wood must be wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt— James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd) September 20, 2020
I would be a very small man indeed if I were to suggest that the goal shouldn’t have counted. But, since that’s exactly how my wife describes me...
The lead was short-lived as the Foxes equalised with their first shot on goal. A brilliant cross-field ball from Barnes found Vardy between two defenders. The former Fleetwood Town man put both Burley centre-halfs on the turf but left himself too tight an angle for the shot. He pulled it back for Castagne, who squared for Barnes. The Burnley-born winger passed the ball into the back of the net, leveling the score.
That marked the beginning of a period of complete dominance for the Foxes, albeit one which would produce no goals. City moved the ball with pace, threatening to open up the Clarets’ defense time and again, winning a succession of corners. As you may or may not be aware, corners have not been an especially fruitful source of goals for the Foxes and, with Jonny Evans suspended and James Maddison on the bench, this trend continued.
Both sides went close after the 30’ mark but both keepers were up to the task. Another Taylor cross found Robbie Brady on the edge of the area. The former Norwich City man did remarkably well to get his first-time effort on target, but it was a comfortable save for Schmeichel. At the other end, Barnes was allowed to drive into the area and sent a low, curling effort towards the far post that Pope got a hand to and allowed his defense to put out for a corner.
Tielemans got a look at the goal right before the half, receiving the ball at the top of the “D” after a nice passing move on the left. He put it on target, but that’s the best thing you can say about the effort as it had neither the power nor the placement to trouble the keeper. The sides went into the half-time break level, but with the Foxes very much on top of the proceeding.
The sides were unchanged to start the second half and the run of play was likewise the same. Leicester’s dominance paid off in only five minutes. A move down the left saw Justin center for Tielemans whose inch perfect through ball found Castagne’s run on the right. The former Atalanta man fired in a low cross for Vardy that Erik Pieters just got a foot to, but he could only managed to turn the ball into his own net. Some own goals are comical; this one was the result of a move that deserved a goal and would have resulted in one even without Pieters’ unfortunate intervention.
Both sides spurned gilt-edged opportunities in rapid succession. Leicester failed to clear their ball on the their right, allowing the Clarets to work it to Jay Rodriguez. He tapped it to an unmarked Wood, his first-time effort was tame and directly at Schmeichel. At the other end, another quick switch of play allowed Castagne to tee up Praet in the area, but his snap shot sailed over the bar when all he had to do was hit the target.
No matter, though, as the Foxes doubled their lead moments later. Ayoze took several touches surrounded by three defenders in the box. When it looked as though the chance was gone, he poked the ball across the edge of the six yard box, just eluding Barnes but falling kindly to Justin. The fullback kept his nerve and guided home from close range for his first league goal.
Just after the hour mark, Rodgers took off Ayoze and introduced Maddison. The Clarets introduced Matej Vydra in an attempt to get back into the match. It was, instead, Jimmy Dunne who would get one back for the visitors. A McNeil cross found the Ireland U-21 international, who out-muscled Justin and planted an unstoppable header past Schmeichel, cutting the Leicester lead to one.
The two-goal margin was restored just a couple of minutes later. Barnes brought the ball down the left and slid a square ball across the top of the box for Praet. The defender followed Castagne’s run, so the former Sampdoria midfielder had plenty of time to line up his shot, a fierce effort that beat Pope at the near post. That proved Praet’s last contribution as Marc Albrighton came for him, allowing Madders to move back inside (which, to be honest, he was always going to do anyway).
can we take a moment to appreciate castagne’s prem photo pic.twitter.com/eO1fPd1PdY— hànnah (@lcfchannah) September 20, 2020
Can and will, Hànnah! If he keeps playing like he did today, they’ll be selling them by the bucketload (which is a lot...I checked).
The visitors were millimetres from getting one back late. Leicester again struggled to clear their lines as the defensive lines were getting distinctly non-Euclidean. The ball fell to Vydra on the right side of the box. His picked out Wood completely unmarked in the area. His first-time drive beat Schmeichel but came off the inside of the upright, rescuing an almost-absent defense.
Rodgers introduced Wes Morgan late to tighten up said defense and to take a few ticks off the clock. The Foxes ended the match camped out in the Burnley area, so it must have worked a treat. After three minute of time added on, referee Lee Mason blew his whistle and Leicester had two wins in two matches.
In wasn’t quite as easy as the scoreline made it look, but it was still an impressive team performance for the Foxes. Burnley didn’t have many chances, but the chances they had were the kind that put big circles on the xG charts so there were more nervous moments than you’d like. But, for the most part? Everything clicked. Leicester faced a packed defense that was determined to deny the ball to Vardy and absolutely tore that defense apart.
The victory leaves Leicester at the pinnacle of the table, ahead of several other clubs on goal differential. You can’t ask for much more than that, especially when you have one recognized centre-half in the side, Madders on the bench, and Ricardo a month away from returning. The good start is important because things get a little more difficult now. We face Arsenal in the League Cup on Wednesday and then travel to the Etihad to face Manchester City next Sunday.