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Match Report: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 - 4 Leicester City

Foxes exit the relegation zone while asking “What’s xG?”

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Leicester City dismantled Wolverhampton Wanderers by a score of 4-0 at Molineaux on Sunday Morning. First-half goals from Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes gave the Foxes a comfortable lead at the half. James Maddison and Jamie Vardy doubled the tally in the second period, seeing City climb out of the relegation zone.

Manager Brendan Rodgers made only two changes to the lineup that beat Leeds United 2-0 on Thursday. James Maddison returned from suspension to reclaim the “central midfielder forced into service on the right” role from the impressive Dennis Praet, and Patson Daka led the line in favour of Jamie Vardy: Danny Ward, Timothy Castagne, Daniel Amartey, Wout Faes, James Justin, Youri Tielemans (C), Boubakary Soumare, Maddison, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Harvey Barnes, Daka.

It’s difficult to imagine a more dominant start for Wolves. The hosts had approximately 100% of the possession and got off nine shots in the opening quarter hour. It was, then, very much against the run of play when the Foxes took the lead with their first shot of the match. Madders floated in a free kick that was easily dealt with by the defence. They only cleared it as far as Tielemans on the right edge of the area. The Belgian took it on the half-volley and hit it as sweetly as anything he’ll ever hit (and yes, I am aware of just how high that bar is). It rocketed in off the far post.

Bookmark this one. You’ll never see its like again.

The hosts responded with a furious flurry, forcing Ward to make a couple of decent saves and doing everything except score. City, on the other hand, were doing little except for scoring. They doubled their lead through the tidiest of moves. Madders worked the ball out to Barnes on the wing. He checked it back to KDH, who found Barnes’ run with a return ball. The winger held his nerve and slotted cleanly past Jose Sa.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leicester City - Premier League
Waiting to hear from Southgate, presumably.
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

Wolves were starting to look nervous, which, fair enough, was an appropriate reaction. Daka nearly charged down Sa when he dawdled on the ball, and Tielemans just missed getting on the end of a low cross from KDH. The commentators brought up the “famous 4-3 matches between these two clubs” which, if you remember those matches, was a very mean thing for them to mention.

The pace dropped over the last ten minutes as both managers reminded their clubs that “giving the ball away cheaply is bad” and “midfielders exist.” The run of play continued to favour Wolves as Diego Costa and Daniel Podence both spurned golden opportunities, but the imperious Ward was up to the challenge. When the whistle blew, City had two goals from only two shots while Wolves had failed to score from thirteen attempts. Funny old game, innit?

Neither manager made any changes after the break, so things picked up where they left off. Wolves laid siege to the Leicester goal from the restart and kept up the pressure for the opening quarter hour. City were restricted to counterattacks which looked promising but ultimately came to nought.

Rodgers seems to have fallen in love with the “changes on the hour” and made a triple substitution this time around. Dewsbury-Hall, Soumare, and Daka all came off in favour of Dennis Praet, Nampalys Mendy, and Jamie Vardy. Tactically, this meant that Madders took up a central position with Praet moving to the right.

The move suited Maddison, as he extended the lead almost immediately. Vardy picked up a loose ball deep in the Wolves half and found Madders in the middle. The former Norwich City man drove into the right side of the area while Vardy’s run pulled the defenders away. This allowed Maddison to find an inch of space and a postage stamp-sized gap to slot past Sa. Three shots and three goals for the Foxes.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leicester City - Premier League
EDIT: I’ll let Madders explain the celebration: Hide & Seek @stormzy Been on repeat all week so rude not to celebrate with it Brilliant from the boys today. Much more like it
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Marc Albrighton came on for the final quarter-hour, replacing Harvey Barnes on the wing. As was the case before, this was Leicester’s cue to add to their tally. Praet won the ball in the Wolves’ half and found Castagne’s run in the right channel. His low, curling cross evaded the hosts’ defence and found Vardy just three yards out, who blasted home for his 134th Premier League goal and his 100th since his 30th birthday.

16 to go.

Luke Thomas came on for Justin with just a few minutes of normal time remaining. Would there be a fifth? No. No there would not, but four is more than enough isn’t it? In addition, Albrighton had a header that apparently counted as a shot we finally had an attempt that didn’t find the back of the net. We got the three points. That’s all that mattered.

Scoring four times from the first four shots is a lot of fun. It’s probably not sustainable, but I’ll take “three points” over “sustainable performance” every single time. It was a deeply strange match. Wolves had 21 shots, 61% of the possession, and 9 corners but couldn’t find the back of the net. A more ruthless side would have posed a serious problem, but Wolverhampton possess no ruth at all.

Speaking of “statistics accumulated against questionable opponents,” I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Amartey/Faes partnership did it again: Three matches, three clean sheets. This with the increasingly-impressive Danny Ward in goal and Boubakary Soumare as the ostensible holding midfielder. Palace, Leeds, and Wolves have only combined for four more goals than Manchester City, but you have to give credit where it’s due.

The win gives the Foxes 11 points from 12 matches, which lifts us to 16th on the table. Next on the docket is the aforementioned Manchester City who will provide a somewhat different challenge for our newly-imperious defensive partnership on Saturday. The following week, we travel to the blue side of Liverpool to face Everton at Goodison Park.