Leicester City suffered heartbreak, drawing 2-2 at the King Power against West Ham. An early Jarrod Bowen goal gave the visitors the lead, but a Youri Tielemans penalty just before the half leveled the score. Ricardo put the Foxes ahead with a second-half header, but Craig Dawson’s legal-but-still-sketchy upper-arm effort at the death forced City to settle for a single point.
Not a hand ball though??? Fucking useless officiating in the prem AGAIN pic.twitter.com/dSeNK4xrF1— Leah (@lcfcleah) February 13, 2022
After two of the worst performances of the season on the trot, manager Brendan Rodgers tried to shake things up by playing almost the entire starting XI in their natural position: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Ricardo Pereira, Daniel Amartey, Çağlar Söyüncü, James Justin, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, and Patson Daka.
With the clouds unleashing torrents of rain on the King Power, the opening exchanges were disjointed and chippy. Cags took an elbow to the face from Tomáš Souček, forcing the Turkey defender to head down the tunnel to change into some less-bloodstained shorts. Was it going to be a one of those days?
It sure looked like it. With absolutely nothing on, Issa Diop dinked the ball over the top for Jarrod Bowen to chase. With Amartey playing him onside, Bowen was free to bear down on Schmeichel. The winger shifted the ball to his left foot and tucked the ball under the Leicester captain to give the Hammers the lead on just 10’.
The Foxes looked more threatening after conceding, but in spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that they won a bunch of corners, nothing came of it. As further proof that we can’t have nice things, James Justin went to ground on the half-hour mark. His hamstring had gone, and Rodgers was forced to introduce Luke Thomas.
City upped the tempo and started to create some chances. Ricardo and Tielemans played a neat one-two that saw Youri curl the ball wide of the near post. Barnes, who was beating his defenders for fun, cut inside from the left and fired high and wide from pretty much the spot where he always shoots.
The Foxes equalised just before injury time from the spot. Leicester won a corner on the left and Aaron Cresswell stuck out an elbow to knock it away which, while effective, resulted in the easiest handball decision since Luis Suarez against Ghana. Tielemans stepped up and blasted it past Lukasz Fabianski to level the score. It was nothing less than the Foxes deserved, and it’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that.
The second half started at the same frantic pace as the first one ended. Both sides poured down the pitch, but it was the Foxes who were starting to win the loose balls and create chances. A long cross-pitch pass from Tielemans found Barnes, who beat hapless Vladimír Coufal and fired in a low cross that just evaded the onrushing Daka.
This seemed to work so well that Youri tried it again just a few minutes later. This time, with Barnes facing two defenders, he clipped in a quick cross with his right boot that found the head of Ricardo. The Portugal defender planted his header inside the post and into the side netting, giving Fabianski no chance and giving Leicester a deserved 2-1 advantage.
Since the goal, in particular, they've shown more commitment than recent games. Barnes has been running at them and it's made a big difference. This passion is what's needed. COME ON LEICESTER! #LCFC #LEIWHU pic.twitter.com/CXIJqjNBls— Maple Foxes (@Maple_Foxes) February 13, 2022
Do not tell me that these players do not care. Well, OK, you can tell me, but you’d be wrong and I’m just trying to spare you the embarrassment.
With Madders having run his socks off, Rodgers took him off in favour of Ademola Lookman. The change was especially notable as it wasn’t a case of the gaffer trying to close up shop with a quarter hour to play. There was an inevitable drop in the pace of play, but the Foxes continued to look the more likely side to get the next goal.
Going into the 90th minute and still well on top, Rodgers made his last change, sending Jannik Vestergaard into the fray for Tielemans, attempting to see the match out and going five at the back. The Hammers won a late corner and Craig Dawson evaded Amartey and shouldered the ball into the net to level the score at the death.
Well, that was disappointing. For people who count such things, this was the improved performance we wanted to see after the Forest match a week ago. The Foxes were the better team and well worth three points, even if they only got one. It’s not terribly comforting, but been a while since we led both possession and shots by comfortable margins. Maybe we’ll add “leading on goals” next week.
Side note: No John DiMaggio, no Futurama.
The draw-that-feels-like-a-defeat gives us 27 points from 22 matches, which places us 11th on the table. We make our Europa Conference League debut on Thursday against Danish side Randers, and then travel to Molineaux to face Wolves in one week.