Imagine we’re playing a game of two truths and one lie and I tell you that against Burnley, Leicester City registered twenty-two shots on goal, that Jamie Vardy scored three goals and the result was a 2-2 all draw; which one sounds like a lie? A draw at home drew some boos and completed a pretty weird set of results and Premier League performances for September.
1) A penny for Brendan’s thoughts on the best Leicester eleven and formation
Maybe this is playing devil’s advocate a little because it still feels like he’s trying to compensate for the choices he can’t make due to injuries or ongoing recoveries. With the available players he does have though, it’s not clear that Rodgers is confident in his best starting eleven or the best formations to deploy them in. Every Foxes fan has his/her own thoughts on how to play and who to plug in, but so far it’s been another season where we’re tinkering to find the best choice for one reason or another.
So much of this seems to stem from the decisions, or lack thereof, available in how we line up defensively. We haven’t really been in a position to line up with a back three yet, due to less than ideal fitness and injury scenarios but it was clear that’s Rodgers’ preferred defensive set-up. Even with Jonny Evans seemingly ready to return again, a back three doesn’t seem easy to achieve. The thought of Jannik Vestergaard and Evans on the pitch at the same time doesn’t sound overly convincing. Although Caglar Soyuncu has looked most confident is when he’s either got Evans alongside him or Evans as part of a back three.
The use of Boubakary Soumare continues to be interesting too if not fledgling. Despite some lovely runs and through balls, Soumare had a better first forty-five than second. It seems like a few fans believe his presence marrs the roles of both Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans. Personally, it feels like balance could be achieved and that it could be a useful trio in the right game.
If twenty-two shots told us anything though, it’s that we’re missing a little something in the final third. That is unless you’re Jamie Vardy.
34 years old and still one of the best forwards in the world pic.twitter.com/E5sgzV6ggd— MadAboutFoxes (@madaboutfoxes) September 26, 2021
2) Jamie Vardy’s imperfect perfect hat trick dominates the headlines
Here’s hoping the referee had enough of a sense of humour to offer Jamie Vardy the match-ball. On any other day scoring with his head, left foot and right foot would have been a perfect day for our talisman. However, the header going in the wrong net made it an imperfect, perfect hat trick instead. Another unique thing to tell the Grandkids at least. And yet another set of fans who really don’t understand that singing about Rebekah Vardy only ends one way.
Whichever way you look at, and there are just as many tweets saying he’s got big dumb guy energy as in praise of him, Vardy’s stats can’t be denied or ignored. He is up there with the best strikers in the world putting up equal, or better numbers. While playing for Leicester City. We love this club but let’s not kid ourselves when looking at the players he’s in competition with, it only serves to make them look all that more impressive.
As soon as Vardy headed past Schmeichel to put Burnley in front, from effectively their only move of the game thus far, it was written in the stars who’d equalise. Given the aforementioned chanting and that an equaliser would come at the away end of the King Power, the only thing more certain was his goal celebration. It won’t be the perfect hat trick he’d love but the two for the Foxes were key goals. In a game where it felt like every bounce or loose ball dropped to their men, we needed him.
Jamie Vardy scored a hattrick at the weekend but you won’t hear about it bcuz his name isn’t Lionel Messi— josh (@mufcxjosh) September 27, 2021
That and, you know, the own goal part of it.
This is the Vardy we missed last season, the energetic, making it happen when we’re struggling to get chances in. We had enough opportunities to score, but it was only Vardy who could bury them. It’s not even October yet and between these learns and Jake’s always excellent match reports, we’re running out of ways to praise him and to express our love for him. What more can you say?
3) Kelechi Iheanacho helps show that when we can make it work, we could destroy an opposition, but a lot of the destructive power is currently benched
Leicester City's subs vs Burnley contained five players (Maddison, Iheanacho, Perez, Castagne & Daka) who were all signed for fees in excess of £20m.— Mike McCarthy (@mikemccarthy) September 27, 2021
The combined fees paid for all 9 subs was approximately £137m.
Was it City's most expensive bench of all time?
Doing our best Manchester City impression with this bench. Except we didn’t have the luxury of not needing them.
Hard to argue with this Tweet, I can’t think of a time we’d have mustered together a more expensive bench, even with Islam Slimani and Ahmed Musa on it. Quite how we started a home game to Burnley with Kelechi Iheanacho on the bench is almost another matter in itself. If ever a game was crying up for two up top before kick-off, it was this one. It’s Burnley, lads. We know what to expect. Well, sort of, not sure many of us had time-wasting after twenty-five minutes on the bingo card but alas, back to the point.
Nigerian fans who love Iheanacho first and whose interest in Leicester stems from that, are frustrated that he always plays second fiddle to Vardy. Even at thirty-four, the argument for not starting Vardy just isn’t there, unless you’re talking about three-game weeks, but it’s also impossible to believe that we are a better side without Iheanacho. The striker seems to add an extra level of cohesion, support for Vardy. Plus would you want to be a defender trying to deal with those two and the pace of a Harvey Barnes? No thanks.
We may have been forced into a system change last year but it absolutely highlighted how much Iheanacho has grown in both confidence and technique under Rodgers. There’s been snippets of a lovely partnership and understanding between him and Ademola Lookman too, which I’d be keen to see a lot more of. Rodgers has all but admitted it’s a system concern rather than a personnel concern with regards to getting a second striker on but given how few of our chances we’ve converted in the last few games, it’s worth experimenting. His through ball for Vardy’s second was Tielemans’-esque.
He’s putting up some of the best average minutes for a goal scored or assisted too. With a Europa League game midweek ahead of an away trip to London, it’s about time we got to see more of him and Daka too while we’re talking about it.
4) You wanted intensity? Timothy Castagne delivered
Without wanting to go all Claude Puel on you, Leicester needed some more intensity against Burnley. It’s still unclear whether the decision to pull off Ricardo at half-time was predetermined, forced due to an injury or purely tactical, but Timothy Castagne wasn’t an expected half-time substitution. He made a pretty instant impact either way. The benefit of fresh legs, a bit of punch and aggression and a determination to charge forward, saw him creating a few chances and a lot more chaos.
Ricardo certainly had a part to play in Burnley’s second goal, and with a team like Burnley, you feel that Castagne’s combative approach is a little more effective. It’s interesting that not a lot of attention is being granted to Castagne following the match. Yes, Kelechi Iheanacho had a huge impact and is always deserving of praise, but I thought Castagne really helped us tackle the away side with a different approach. He’s always been more effective when starting on the right, a bit of an all-rounder and while we never looked overly comfortable in defense, he was one of the reasons Burnley were less of a threat in the second half.
We generally pressed and hassled Burnley a little more in the second half, so it was seemingly part of the general messaging from management at half time, but Castagne was unfortunate not to count himself among the goals, or nab an assist. With neither full-back particularly impressing in the first half, and an open spot for best left-back until James Justin is back, it might be time for a Ricardo and Castagne double again. It’s a less potent position for the Belgian but it was a rather underwhelming display from Ryan Bertand whose corners could have been a little more on point. There’s a worrying lack of link-up between him and Barnes so far.
One thing that struck me yesterday was how good we were down the right wing compared to the left. Castagne/Lookman combined well but the inability of Bertrand to cross the half way line and overlap is having a detrimental affect on Barnes' performance. This needs addressing!— Mike Siddall (@MikeSiddallLCCC) September 26, 2021
5) Booing will always divide fans, not least when it’s up for debate who and what the boos are aimed at…
Is Brendan generous or naive when he says the booing this weekend is the first time he’s heard Leicester fans booing? Either way, there’s seemingly only two viewpoints on the subject of boos (not ones aimed at the officials because quite frankly, have at it given their lack of consistency and general performances); you either think it’s ok because it’s a way of voicing discontent, or you’re vehemently against it. I’m in the latter camp and I regularly end up in disagreements on Twitter over the subject. I fail to see how it’s ever anything but counterproductive when it’s aimed at the team, a player, or in this case, a substitution.
This isn’t saying that taking off Ademola Lookman wasn’t disappointing. He was one of the creative outlets that looked like he could help us score more, but he played at Millwall in midweek and generally the decision came at a time where we needed some fresh legs and a bit more of a push. You’d also forgive people for wondering if the boos were aimed at the oncoming James Maddison given he got booed off in the last Premier League home game.
Hopefully Lookman realised pretty quickly that he was worthy of a standing ovation and that the boos were not at him. Rodgers seemed pretty relaxed when the subject came on, perhaps he’s getting used to the somewhat toxic atmosphere that our home games seem to slip into. It’s excellent to have full stadiums again, but it would be great if the attitude was a little more supportive and measured.
I’ll just don my tin foil hat now in preparation.