1) Foxes didn’t need Jamie Vardy to score four goals*
*Ok, not strictly true given the off the ball work that Jamie Vardy did for Leicester against Burnley. Not to mention that the Erik Pieters own goal should have been an easy finish on a plate for Vardy. However, it is refreshing that on a night where he didn’t net one, we didn’t struggle for goals. Far too often at the end of last season, if we were unable to get Vardy involved in the play, you couldn’t see where a goal would come from.
The goals came from three different areas of the pitch this time too. Our pre-season campaign didn’t generate many goals and it was a concern for many fans coming into this season. Two games in, seven goals scored! Having somebody like Timothy Castagne (from goal-crazy Atalanta) has certainly helped. Against Burnley, it felt like a case of when we’d score rather than if. Had we been slightly more clinical, we probably should have scored more than four too.
The last time Leicester City scored 6 goals in their first two matches to start the season, they won the league.— Canadian Foxes (@LCFC_Canada) September 21, 2020
Just to make note of that. #lcfc
Even Ayoze Perez, arguably the player who struggled the most last night (I’m still going to defend him, just FYI), managed to turn provider for our third goal, James Justin there to capitalise on the loose ball from Perez’s blocked attempt at setting up Harvey Barnes again.
2) Harvey Barnes stock keeps on rising
Barnes was arguably the biggest talking point of the night. Garnering praise from his team mates, manager (Brendan Rodgers used the word outstanding) and the media. He deserved every bit of it too. He regularly had Burnley defenders trailing in his wake as he took them on and left them behind. It’s wonderful to see him in the one-on-one situations and using his speed to take the ball goal-bound.
His goal, to level the score at 1-1 was well taken after a lot of unselfish teamwork. Jamie Vardy caused the Burnley centre-backs to fall over one another, freeing himself up to slot it to Castagne who I expected to shoot but had seen Barnes’ run into the box.
Barnes was unlucky to end the night with just one goal, though picking up the Man of the Match award would have softened the blow. His best chance to grab a second was denied by Nick Pope. It’s clear already that Barnes is this season’s Ben Chillwell in terms of the one the media will focus on and ask when that next step is coming. Buckle in Leicester fans!
Consistency remains something for Barnes to overcome. This performance from him was more of a standout than against West Brom, but if he does want to get an inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Euros, he’s going to need to repeat this performance a lot more. There’s nothing to suggest that with the attacking threat we pose at the moment, that he won’t be able to do that either.
3) The Foxes have an abundance of pace and Cengiz Ünder is yet to come
Leicester fans will likely have to wait until the Manchester City game to get a first look at our new signing. Cengiz Ünder will hopefully be with the club (presuming Caglar Söyüncü was able to find him at the airport) ahead of the Carabao Cup game against Arsenal, but it’ll be a surprise if he makes the squad. The 23-year-old winger brings a lot of pace that he put to good use at A.S. Roma. Based on the display against Burnley, Sean Dyche will have been glad we didn’t have Ünder as another option to cause them a headache.
I will wait you at the airport. what should I write to the paper for you to recognize me? @cengizunder— Çağlar Söyüncü (@Syncaglar) September 20, 2020
One of the key attributes of our many attacking opportunities against Dyche’s side was the pace involved in them. Vardy, Barnes, Justin all left a defender in the dust at least once. Any doubts that Vardy’s pace is diminishing can be dismissed following some of his turns last night; but even if he does have to save those runs for the right ball these days, we have plenty of other options ready to charge forward.
Slotting Ünder in, with James Maddison almost back to full fitness, is a welcome headache for Rodgers. Our bench is probably the area where we lack some pace currently, especially if Demarai Gray is out of the frame, so that could be a role for Ünder while he settles in. Somebody to come on and provide fresh legs.
4) James Justin’s attacking outlet on the left was an unexpected bonus (and yes there’s some defensive learning to be done)
Before we talk about James Justin’s first Premier League goal and general attacking threat, there has to be a mention of his defensive duty. Yes, at times against Burnley, he looked outmuscled and naive but let’s not forget that this was only the second time he’d been asked to play at left-back in the Premier League. Plus Justin is still just twenty-two. It’s a surprise that he’s emerged as the scapegoat for some Leicester fans...or is it, given they annihilated Chilwell in that position last season? It feels particularly unfair though when on the flip side, Justin’s attacking performance was a huge positive.
Every time Leicester got forward against Burnley, it felt like there was a potential goal incoming. Justin played an important part in that. As mentioned above, there were times where Burnley just did not know how to deal with the pace of Vardy, Barnes, Castagne and Justin all at the same time. Particularly with Barnes and Justin both coming down the left. His goal was tribute to excellent, pressing positional play and a fault on Burnely’s part for leaving him so wide open.
In hindsight, asking Justin to mark and cover the tall, strong Chris Wood may not have been our best idea. It’s a battle you wouldn’t bet on Justin to win, though it is something he can hopefully work on. How long his tenure at left-back will last isn’t clear. I expected there might be some defensive frailties there, but it was pleasing just how effective he was on the attack.
5) The Tielemans, Praet and Mendy midfield trio is a dominant force
Am I surprised by how good a duo of Youri Tielemans and Dennis Praet has looked in the last two games? No. Am I absolutely loving it? Yes! It’s no secret that I would have Praet in most starting line-ups and it’s about time we found a way to unleash his creative potential. So far this has meant Youri playing a little deeper, but clearly to no detriment as he impressed again. His inch perfect through ball to Castagne (for the second goal) was an absolute joy to watch. He and Praet are adept in interchanging their roles if one has gone forward or gone back to cover defensively.
It’s hard not to focus on Dennis Praet again though, when he scored the goal of the game. Sure, Burnley allowed somebody with an eye for a pass and a good shot far too much time on the ball, but his goal was a thing of powerful beauty. It’s the reward his performances so far this season have merited. So often he was trying to be the provider and on a couple of occasions, it felt like a shot was on the cards for him. His first goal of the season, yet another from one of the Belgian contingent, and following on from his assist last time out, should fill him with confidence.
6 out of 6 happy with the team performance and with my first goal of the season! pic.twitter.com/jNyBuZWKee— Dennis Praet (@dennispraet) September 20, 2020
There’s a third member of midfield who deserves praise. It’s unfortunate for Nampalys Mendy that he’ll probably lose his spot, certainly in the Premier League anyway, as soon as Johnny Evans is back. Wilfred Ndidi has been a fine replacement at centre-back so far but Rodgers will want him back where he belongs once we’re over suspensions and injuries. Mendy was quietly effective again last night. His holding midfield performances don’t stand out on the surface in the way that Ndidi’s always do, but he’s efficient and didn’t really put a foot wrong against Burnley. Though he did look a little tired by the end.
And the bonus Learn: Set pieces still a pain point
Not to be negative after a good win but we still haven’t solved our corner issue have we? One day...right?!