The Foxes lost 4-0 to Manchester City on Sunday. This puts Leicester at the bottom of the table, with zero points for the season. The only other team with no points is Reading who have a game in hand. This is the first match this season where the Foxes looked like the losing side. In their first three matches they were a bit unlucky not to take a point, with the Everton late goal to break the tie a particularly hard one to take. Finishing was a problem in the prior matches, but this match saw very few chances created. There were zero shots on target, compared to Man City’s eight.
Bedford deployed a 4-2-3-1, where she had been using a 3-5-2. The only change to the starting lineup was Bott as left back, with Purfield pushing up into midfield replacing Pike. Plumptre, Howard, and Simon along with Bott were the back four. Tierney and Green were slotted into double pivots with Purfield, Whelan, and Jones comprising the rest of the midfield with O’Brien as the lone striker.
Bedford was probably trying to neutralize Hemp’s speed and prevent the Citizens from working the ball through the central part of the pitch. This system didn’t suit the Foxes. Tierney plays best in the central role, whether as a lone defensive midfielder or as the center of a center back trio. Plumptre struggled with her absence. Simon and Jones weren’t able to link up on the right, with Simon not able to make surging runs. Whelan and Green’s presence controlling and distributing in the center was noticeable. The one positive is the Bott and Purfield pairing on the left, with the Foxes finally getting some attack creation down that side.
Leicester were still in the game, when Bedford made questionable substitutions. Goodwin for Jones was unsurprising as Jones was having an off match. Pike for Purfield was baffling. Purfield was one of the better-performing players when she was subbed off. Josie Green was most likely subbed off due to injury, as she had just received medical treatment prior to coming off. Flint coming on for Green was… odd. Green provides much more defensively and in possession, and at this point in the match the score was only 1-0. McManus has recently made the bench again and would have been a more similar profile to Green. Even Scofield coming in for Green would be more understandable. It doesn’t appear to be coincidence that shortly after the substitutions were made Man City started getting more chances and the final three goals were all scored.
Next up Leicester face current league leaders, the other Manchester team at home at King Power Saturday October 22. Bedford will need to reconsider systems and fingers crossed somebody for the Foxes can start finding the back of the net.
Levell – Did well to stop the penalty, bit unfortunate there was no marking for the rebound. Had a couple of good saves to keep the score line respectable. Couldn’t do much on the Hemp header for the second goal with the sun in her eyes. 6
Plumptre – She seems a better fit on the left side of a back three. Lose marking on Shaw for the first goal. She’s one of the taller players on the pitch, so she should be battling for the ball in air. Her feet didn’t leave the ground for Shaw’s header. Had a few poor clearances, with the crossbar saving the Kelly shot resulting from one of those. 4
Tierney- Moved into a defensive midfield position for this match. She didn’t stymie much of the Citizens attack as is expected of her and didn’t contribute any to the Foxes attack. She may have been more effective in a system that didn’t use double pivot. 5
Howard – The penalty call was questionable, with Shaw not in possession and having a very soft trip over Howard’s leg. It was a risk to go down in the box, and Shaw took advantage at the lack of VAR in the WSL. She had a tough job keeping up with Hemp, who is one of the fastest in the league. Had five interceptions for the match. Could have gotten a better connection with the corner kick that was cleverly worked by Purfield and Simon. 6
Purfield – Played further up the pitch in midfield, with Bott behind her. She was able to get involved more in the attack with her and Bott linking up on the few occasions Leicester had the ball. Her set piece delivery finds their targets, with final touch still lacking. 7
Bott – We are more accustomed to seeing her play on the right, so it was a little surprising to see her in the left back position. Defensively she had to contend with Chloe Kelly and for most of the match was able to smother most opportunities down that side. Struggled keeping up with the fresh legs of Raso. With her and Purfield on the left, more of the attack came down that side. One of the best chances came in the first half off a cross from her sprint down the line. 6
Whelan –Probably could have done more on the cross from Bott. She wasn’t as involved in the attack, with very little coming through the middle of the pitch. It didn’t seem that the front four knew who should press or when, not as coordinated. 5
Green – Used in a double pivot role. Defensively she was able to break up play on her side sometimes but was absent from the attack. We’ve seen better from her in prior matches. She came off early at the 68th minute, fingers crossed she isn’t seriously injured. 5
Simon – She wasn’t as involved going forward, was able to get off one cross but nothing came of it. Was outplayed and fell to ground, allowing Hemp to connect for the second goal. Had a few key tackles and interceptions, but Hemp kept her busy most of the match. 5 (+ bonus points for being so composed after the release of the Yates report) 10
C. Jones – Wasn’t the best game from her. She didn’t get involved in much of the play. A forgettable performance, as in I can’t recall her being involved and kept forgetting she was on the pitch. 5
O’Brien – She had a few presses on Man City’s back line that resulted in turnovers, but the Foxes couldn’t capitalize on them. At times she seemed to be confused on what space to occupy. Her and Whelan didn’t appear to be on the same page on where/when to press when Man City was playing out from the back. 5
Pike – ’55 for Purfield. Surprising to see Purfield subbed off, as all of the attack that had come down the left side came to a screeching halt with Pike’s appearance. Play opened up for Man City with the Leicester subs appearance. Bott was often left dealing with Kelly (and later Raso) on her own, with Pike not tracking back. 5
Goodwin – ‘55 for Jones. She provided more energy for Leicester, and was able to get some forward momentum going. 6
Flint – ‘68 for Green. This sub was likely due to an injury to Green, and not a planned one for Bedford, as Flint was most likely to replace O’Brien. She was able to get a shot off, but it wasn’t threat of going in. Watched as Shaw ran forward and put the penalty rebound into the net instead of tracking her. 4