Leicester City had to settle for a draw against Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday afternoon at the King Power. After a goalless first half, Patson Daka put the Foxes ahead just after the start of the second period. Substitute Danny Welbeck levelled the match with a late header to secure the draw for the visitors.
One returnee from AFCON allowed manager Brendan Rodgers to field a starting XI with fewer players out of their natural position than almost any time this year: Kasper Schmeichel (C), James Justin, Daniel Amartey, Çağlar Söyüncü, Luke Thomas, Youri Tielemans, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, James Maddison, Ademola Lookman, Harvey Barnes, and Patson Daka.
The opening exchanges saw both sides try to get forward but neither were able to produce anything beyond a few shots that would make for tiny boxes on the xG charts. Lookman had a decent opportunity from a tight angle for the Foxes and the visitors swung in some dangerous crosses from the right, but the Seagulls’ attackers couldn’t get their communication right at the far post.
The best chance of the half came when Madders forced a turnover in midfield and the ball fell to Barnes. The winger took the ball down the middle with Daka to his left and Lookman in acres of space on the right. He picked the right pass, putting Lookman in on goal at close range, but his shot was blocked by Robert Sanchez.
Leicester were bossing possession and getting into dangerous areas, but outside of Madders’ and Lookman’s efforts, never really got close to scoring. At the other end, Brighton won a corner in injury time and Schmeichel was forced into his first save of the match right before the whistle. The Foxes were the better side in the first half but couldn’t find a breakthrough and went into the tunnel level at 0-0.
If you took an extra minute getting back to your seat, you missed the best part of the match from a Leicester standpoint. The Foxes poured forward from the opening kickoff with Barnes, Madders, and Lookman all getting touches in the Seagulls’ area before the ball dropped to Daka at the far post. The Zambia man finished neatly from close range to give City the lead they probably just deserved based on the first half.
Patson Daka in the four Premier League games he started so far:— EPL Fanzine (@EplFanzine) January 23, 2022
️ vs Aston Villa
⚽️ ️ vs Newcastle
⚽️ vs Spurs
⚽️ vs Brighton
Either a goal or an assist
And of course a Trademark ™️ celebration.#LEIBHA | #LCFC pic.twitter.com/l942H4Ij7p
The trademark celebration seems to involve levitation. I wouldn’t put it past him.
With Brighton starting to gain the initiative and making attacking substitutions on the their right, Rodgers made his first change just after the hour mark. Marc Albrighton was introduced for Barnes with the former Villa man taking up a position on the right and Lookman going up top. It did nothing to change the stem the mint-green tide and you can toss that bit about players not being asked to play out of position Justin was now a centre-half in a 3-5-2,
Schmeichel came to the rescue on 70’ as the Seagulls continue to attack down the left. Tariq Lamptey got the better of Thomas and fired in a cross that found the forehead of Danny Welbeck. The ball was going to find the inside of the near post, but the Dane made a fantastic reaction save to preserve the lead.
Rodgers was unimpressed with the run of play and hauled off Lookman for Boubakary Soumare to try to see out the last ten minutes. It didn’t work, as some sloppy play on the Leicester left saw the ball fall to Neal Maupay on the right-wing. He had days to pick out his cross, and he found Welbeck at the far post. The former Arsenal man beat Justin and planted his header inside the post to level the score.
The Foxes tried to regain the initiative, but with the gaffer having made a host of defensive substitutions, there wasn’t a great deal of firepower on the pitch. It got even worse as the clock ticked over the 90’ mark as Daka went down with what looked suspiciously like a hamstring injury and wasn’t able to take part for several minutes, finally coming off for Ayoze Perez in the last minute of injury time.
The visitors were back on the front foot for the remaining moments and, in the end, the Foxes were the happier side to hear the referee’s whistle.
That was perhaps the fairest result you’ll see all season. Leicester were better in the first half, but Brighton were on top in the second and a 1-1 draw quite precisely matched the run of play. Fair play to the Seagulls for reacting to going down a goal, but you have to question Rodgers’ changes. They were the tactics of a manager who doesn’t believe his team will hold a lead and that lack of confidence became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So say us all, Mark.
The draw gives us 26 points from 20 matches as we remain 10th on the table. After the mini-break, we resume play on the 6th of February in FA Cup action against Nottingham Forest. After that, we travel to Merseyside to face Liverpool in Premier League action.