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Five things we learnt from Norwich City v Leicester City

Foxes awkwardly choke down Canaries

Norwich City v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

You’d forgive those Foxes fans of us with longer term memories for being a little nervous heading away to Carrow Road to a Norwich side with no points on the board and some previous gifts that we’ve wanted to hand out. So what did we learn?

1) Six points on the board when we’re struggling to shift from first to second gear is something

Reader’s discretion whether you believe that something is luck or a reassuring sign. Picking up points when you’re not at your best is a crucial part of trying to crack the Premier League top six though, like it or not. Which is essentially exactly what Leicester did at Norwich.

Wasteful would be the word of the day. A nervy finish was the product of us not taking our chances and while we could have grabbed a third into what felt like a long additional five minutes, we were equally fortunate that Norwich squandered their own chances. A little like that nervous first time driver, whose gear changes result in a crunching sound, you may well have heard this several times as Leicester tried to get going. Misplaced passes, players not spotting their teammates’ runs and a couple of wild, long-range shots should have given Brendan Rodgers plenty of notes for improvement.

While Rodgers mind was firmly at the game, you wonder if he might have been checking his phone for an update on potential comings and goings. The already drafted shopping list would have had sharp amendments post West Ham and the Norwich game certainly re-iterated those points. Sure, we can draft in the goat that is Marc Albrighton to cover the right wing, but he is literally plan A and B there with the departure of Dennis Praet and suspension of Ayoze Perez.

We’ve managed to six points from a possible nine (even if you don’t feel we’re truly earned them) early on; it’s a decent start but with some tougher games looming, it’s time to iron out some of those kinks.

2) For the Twitter guy who said ‘Leicester won’t win anything while they still play Marc Albrighton’ - ya wrong! Age is merely a number for Foxes’ key men

It’s a shame that I didn’t like the tweet at the time because now I can’t find it, but it’s the first thing I thought about when the goat slotted home what proved to be the winning goal. With a three match ban underway for Ayoze, Albrighton is pretty much the only first-team player we can call on to plug the gap on the right. People keep on writing him off and he just keeps on plugging away, proving them wrong.

It was a well taken goal too. The less said about the uncle at a wedding dancing celebration the better though. Having worked pretty tirelessly throughout, the ball was cued to the winger from Jamie Vardy, happy to turn provider having already notched his early goal. According to our biggest ever bargain, Vardy had promised to put one on a plate for him. Which may undersell what Albrighton had to do to convert the chance!

Jamie Vardy is the Mr Dependable to Albrighton’s Mr Professional, but the tags are pretty interchangeable for them both now. They are proof that you don’t need to teach old dogs new tricks so much as just look after them. It’s no coincidence that two of our oldest players were the most important. Signing Albrighton down to a new deal over the summer was important. Ok, he definitely can’t play every single game, but his off-pitch presence is key. He’s a guy you want around younger players.

Mentioning age where Vardy is concerned seems a redundant point now. He looked vulnerable in moments last season, but the more games we get into this new one, the more I’m convinced that he was just missing fans. In fact, the only place where he is potentially showing his age is on social media. Congratulating Dewsbury-Hall on his debut is a nice sentiment, but repeating it multiple times is either an in-joke (wouldn’t put it past him) or a struggle with technology.

3) Eleven minutes of Ricardo Pereira is a cruel tease as misfortune strikes again

What’s one more injured defender, hey? Oh yeah, it’s pretty much removing the fatal piece in a game of Jenga, so precariously short was our defence already. It’s especially cruel that in the eleven minutes Ricardo was on the pitch, he was excellent. We all jinxed him by celebrating him being back.

Dangerous on the break, lively and turning provider for Vardy within the first quarter, the celebration of a trademark goal for our talisman distracted us from the right-back being down and uncomfortable. A hamstring injury it seems, not too dissimilar to the one Praet picked up at Stoke in January. If anybody deserved an injury-free campaign, it was Ricardo. Having finally been selected for the Portugal squad too, it feels unfair.

Ricardo’s start to the season was akin to a new signing after much of last year was used just getting him back to match sharpness. His assist yesterday was very similar to the one against Wolves. The Portugal man was persistent, this time capitalising on some poor defending but being in the right place to pounce on the ball. His cross into the box was a striker’s dream.

Our latest full-back injury isn’t as catastrophic as losing another centre-back, but it did mean throwing Timothy Castagne into the matchday fold earlier than ideal. Castagne proved that he is a perfectly adequate cover and attacking presence, but having not played since his rough facial injury in the Euros, he looked rusty and slightly off the pace, which is to be expected.

4) Daniel Amartey looked more comfortable weathering this particular storm

Credit goes to Fosse Posse’s own Jake for the observation for which I’m running with an analogy. Çağlar Söyüncü is like a back-up singer, you can pretty much put anybody next to him and the harmony will remain, but take away the other players and leave him alone with just a microphone and it doesn’t end well. It’s not a lack of effort, perhaps it’s wanting or feeling like he has to do it all, but he looked shaky again against Norwich.

For all of the criticism he’s received, and while I still wish we didn’t expect him to play the ball as often, Daniel Amartey was the reliable half of our centre-backs at Carrow Road. While both of them tried Cruyf turns in our own box to varying success, it was Amartey whose speed and strength helped keep the likes of Pukki and the Norwich attack at bay. The Ghana international jets off on international duty this week, so fingers crossed for no hiccups there.

Amartey’s role is so often a thankless one. Dropped into whatever position we’re short at, and rarely ever next to a consistent set of colleagues. He’s more of an old school defender than our playing out from the back approach needs, but you have to acknowledge that he was pretty solid against Norwich. A couple of key challenges and clearances were on display. While the Foxes have generally been working on defensive solidity from corners, I’m pretty impressed with Amartey at them.

5) Time to give a wildcard a start: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall

We know that Rodgers has a lot of faith in James Maddison and his ability to turn it on and produce something. Most fans share that same belief, but potentially question if he’s capable of doing it over ninety minutes in every game right now. Waiting in the wings is Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, who got to make his Premier League debut at Norwich. The two players want to occupy the same role and for Maddison’s bright start to the game, his impact fizzled out a bit and didn’t really begin again until the second half. Contrast that with the impact Dewsbury-Hall made in his five minute debut and you can make an argument for at least throwing him into the mix for longer.

Injecting a bit of life into the game came with the substitution of the academy product near the end. He was nearly instrumental in a third goal too. Given his more wildcard status and his obvious hunger to make an impact, we could make a much worse decision than giving Dewsbury-Hall a start soon. Everything we’re seeing from him, and the sound bites (there’s a great feature episode with him from Championship podcast Second Tier that you should listen to), his attitude is perfect and he’s got such potential.

We’re a club who do a pretty good job of protecting our young players, even with the way we’re pulling Harvey Barnes off now while he’s still recovering. This might be part of why he’s in the squad but not being asked to do too much. That said, his confidence levels look sky high and most Premier League clubs don’t know quite what to expect from him in the same way they do with Maddison. This is going to be a long campaign for our relatively small squad (assuming we continue to operate with around 9 players out at any one time) and it would be great to see what kind of role Dewsbury-Hall can have for us.