1) Brendan doesn’t love the Carabao Cup
To be fair, do any of us? This year in particular, the whole affair just feels a little pointless. Cup competitions thrive on fans and the promise of a potential day out at Wembley. Without that, it’s just paying £10 to watch a stream of two largely changed Premier League elevens. Disappointing and somewhat unnecessary.
Brendan Rodgers sent out an entirely changed eleven for Leicester City. Not a surprise at all. We’re somewhat thin on the ground this season in most positions so no chances needed to be taken with any key players. Especially when we’ve just lost Wilfred Ndidi for up to twelve weeks. Owch. 2020 continues to deliver.
This should have been a chance for fringe players to prove a point, or just get some match time in. Sadly, the somewhat uninspiring performance probably means the majority of them won’t be getting too many more chances for a little while, injury cover aside.
2) The gulf in the team's age difference showed
Wes Morgan and Christian Fuchs have a combined age of 70. They’re both coming to the end of their impressive careers. In contrast, Luke Thomas and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall are the possible future of Leicester City, both only just breaking into the Foxes’ first team. Our changed eleven had a big gulf in age and experience and at times, it showed.
It’s great to see more of Dewsbury-Hall. So much is talked about of his promise and future. His chances may be fewer without a cup run, but he should still have opportunities. It’s difficult to judge his performance too harshly. As a side we didn’t inspire a letter but he had a couple of promising moments.
Be thankful that this back-line is not one we have to play against Manchester City at the weekend. Even if they have a striker crisis. It looked frail and a little off the pace. Some of that comes from a lack of playing time or experience, Thomas is still learning and being asked to play a wing-back role is a little different.
On the opposite side, Daniel Amartey was drafted in to form a back three alongside Fuchs and Morgan. Something that didn’t really do him any favours. It’s great just to see him back on the pitch though after such a long absence through injury. If nothing else, tonight was valuable minutes in his legs, and for the recovering James Maddison too.
Daniel Amartey made his first appearance for Leicester City in 23-months after breaking his ankle in October 2018.— Goal Africa (@GoalAfrica) September 24, 2020
Welcome back, Dan.
Show him some ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/QVSCxDyXyd
3) We all knew we needed a centre-back but...we really need a centre-back
The best of the back three against Arsenal was Morgan. The Captain’s brilliant goal-line clearance may have only held Arsenal back from the inevitable a little longer but it gave the Foxes some hope. His pace remains a concern though and against the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, you’d worry about the pressure it would leave on Caglar Söyüncü. The Turkish international had to do his fair share of cover for Wilfred Ndidi in that role already. Tonight’s defensive display and the Ndidi news only made the need for a centre-back that much more pressing.
Everybody knows that the Foxes need a centre-back though. It’s not a secret that we have to be more conservative with our spending too. Which is making it a little tougher to land somebody that fits our model. Add in that the centre-back we really want, Wesley Fofana, is being managed by one Claude Puel who may not have many generous feelings left toward us and it’s not looking so positive.
Although Jonny Evans has served his suspension, an injury may keep him out another week. With Ndidi, now out too, it looks like the Foxes will only have two fit actual centre-backs. With the transfer window closing soon, it’s going to be a nervous wait. We’d all take a loan of pretty much anybody proven at this point.
4) Demarai Gray isn’t going to be the player we want him to be
I think we’ve known this for a while. It was somewhat of a typical performance for Gray in this Leicester team. A bright enough start that peeters out and dissolves into too many wild shots where a pass would have been the better decision. Gray may argue that he’s rarely given enough chances, or allowed enough minutes, to show what he can do, but it’s getting harder to back that line of thought.
Rodgers has shown him quite a bit of faith and it’s gone largely unrewarded. The rumour mill suggests that Gray may be on the way out in search of regular starts. Against Arsenal, he had the chance to show why Rodgers might want to keep him. Unfortunately, it was another frustrating night for him. It’s hard to understand why so much potential hasn’t been realised with the winger.
It’s got to a stage where it feels hard to defend Gray, or to argue for him to be given more chances. With Ünder coming in, and Gray already having failed to make the matchday squad in the Premier League this season, his time at the club feels like it’s running out. Fan patience with him has all but run out already.
5) James Maddison provided a much needed spark
There weren’t a lot of positives to take away from the general performance against Arsenal but having a fully fit looking James Maddison was one of them. As a team, far too much of our passing and forward movement lacked inspiration but it wasn’t for a lack of effort on Maddison’s part.
We missed a lot of players after the restart, but we definitely missed the creative spark that Maddison brings. His audacious chipped effort was unlucky not to open the scoring against Arsenal, denied only by the post after some clever play between Thomas and Dewsbury-Hall. Tonight was largely about getting Maddison’s fitness back but there were glimpses of the attacking outlet that we need.
First moment of proper class as James Maddison opened up his body and curled a shot which Leno waved goodbye, comes back off the post and into the German's gloves.— Mark Mann-Bryans (@MarkyMBryans) September 23, 2020
Bonus Learn: 2020 Lockdown has seen a lot of us growing out our hair, shaving it off entirely or generally relaxing how much we care about our appearance given how crazy the world is. In Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s case, he appears to have perfected the pornstar moustache look! Bold.