Leicester City saw off Leeds United in early Saturday action at the King Power. Neither side could find a breakthrough in an action-packed first half. Harvey Barnes slotted home midway through the second period to give the Foxes three points and their second clean sheet on the trot.
Absolutely massive three points and another clean sheet.— Canadian Foxes (@Canadian_Foxes) March 5, 2022
May not have been the prettiest of victories but three points is three points. #lcfc
Are you sure about that? I hear the jury’s still out on math.
When everyone is healthy, Brendan Rodgers may have more quality right-backs to choose from than any manager in Europe. That’s kind of like saying “south Texas is beautiful when it snows” or “Piers Morgan is terribly clever when he keeps his mouth shut.” The starting XI: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Hamza Choudhury, Daniel Amartey, Çağlar Söyüncü, Luke Thomas, Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Marc Albrighton, Harvey Barnes, and Jamie Vardy.
The match started at a breathless pace as both sides tore down the pitch at pace whenever the ball fell their way. If you’re not too fussed about goals, it was entertaining stuff. The Foxes saw a lot of the ball, but the visitors were carving out the most chances, keeping Schmeichel busy without requiring anything particularly special of him.
For City, all good things were coming down the left as Barnes was making life miserable for Stuart Dallas. Vardy was making himself available with diagonal runs which allowed him to get on the ball albeit in relatively safe positions. The Foxes were restricted to a few efforts from Barnes that stung the shins of Leeds defenders rather than the palms of Illan Meslier.
The Whites had a spell of pressure on 40’, winning several corners and getting several shots off in dangerous areas. This would have been a bigger problem had Söyüncü not been in beast mode, blocking shot after shot and winning everything in the air. Leeds took nine shots in the opening period, but only two of them required Schmeichel’s intervention.
Leicester had a chance to take the lead before the break. An injury-time corner found an unmarked Ndidi ten yards out. He directed his header on target in the sense that the Leeds keeper qualified as a “target.” The half ended nil-nil, just as one would have expected given the defensive records of the sides involved.
Neither manager made any changes at the half at least in terms of personnel. Defensively, we looked to have dropped into a 4-5-1 to try to slow down the Leeds attack. It will not go down as one of the greatest tactical tweaks of all time as Leeds were doing all of the attacking. Junior Firpo found some space in the left channel and teed up Rafinha from close range. Schmeichel was equal to it, but Rodgers had seen enough.
Ademola Lookman and Kelechi Iheanacho came on for Choudhury and Vardy, with Albrighton slotting in at right-back. After a few nervy moments, the Foxes took the lead against the run of play in the simplest of fashions. A cross-field pass found Barnes on the left. He played a neat one-two with Iheancho and passed it inside the far post to give the Foxes the lead.
The lead seemed to settle the Leicester nerves as the Foxes began to string a few passes together in midfield. As has been amply demonstrated time and again this year, we simply cannot have nice things. Ndidi pulled up holding his knee and Rodgers was forced to give Nampalys Mendy his first Premier League action of the season.
Things were getting scrappy as Leeds pressed for an equaliser. Substitute Tyler Roberts came off worse challenging Amartey at the edge of the area. Having used all three of their substitutions, he was forced to stay on, effectively reducing the visitors to ten men for the last ten minutes of the match.
Four minutes of time were added on as the Foxes tried to hang on to their slim lead. They weren’t a comfortable four minutes, but they were comfortable by Leicester standards. Referee David Coote, who was notable for his invisibility over the course of the match, blew the whistle and Foxes were home and dry.
If all wins are works of art, this one is probably not going to hang in the main gallery. The visitors dominated for long periods of time and Kasper Schmeichel had to pull off some splendid saves but we weathered the storm and did just enough to get the win. We haven’t won many in that fashion this season, so kudos to the defence for holding firm and getting something from a match we probably don’t win a month ago.
Leicester (0.35) 1-0 (2.14) Leeds— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) March 5, 2022
The win gives us 33 points from 25 matches, returning us to the top half of the table if only just so. On Thursday, we make history by playing our first-ever Europa Conference League Round of 16 match when we host Rennes in the first leg of the tie. We return to Premier League action next Sunday when we travel to London to face the Arsenal.