Leicester City and Aston Villa played to a 0-0 draw at the King Power on Saturday afternoon. There were only five shots on goal between the two teams and only one that troubled the keeper. Jamie Vardy came on as a substitute but didn’t have a touch in the Villa area. It was very much one of those games.
The big news on the team sheet today? One key absence in Jonny Evans, who was being rested, and one welcome returnee in the person of Jamie Vardy on the bench today. Manager Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI: Kasper Schmeichel (C), James Justin, Wesley Fofana, Çağlar Söyüncü, Timothy Castagne, Nampalys Mendy, Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Ademola Lookman, Patson Daka.
At the risk of repeating myself...wait, no. It’s not a “risk;” I’m doing it very mindfully: Like almost every home match these days, the Foxes bossed possession, and neither side created anything. Both sides had only one shot on target and neither came close to troubling the keepers. There was a lot to watch, but very little to describe.
Vardy comes out to warm-up and gets a great ovation from the #LCFC fans.— Rob Tanner (@RobTannerLCFC) April 23, 2022
This was probably the biggest incident of the half, not that I’m complaining.
What was interesting was watching the Leicester press. Villa keeper Emi Martinez* was under constant pressure, from Lookman and Daka as the visitors struggled to play the ball out from the back. A little accuracy with the final ball would have put the match well beyond doubt, but it was still a lot of fun to watch.
*English commentators, it’s mar-TEE-nez, not MAHR-tin-ez. That accent isn’t just decorative.
Speaking of Lookman: What a tidy player he is. Now that he’s not offside ten times a match, he’s so clever at keeping the ball and moving it in close quarters. It’s a very different threat than the one offered by Barnes. Leicester have some difficult decisions to make this summer, but signing Lookman won’t be one of them: It’s an absolute no-brainer.
Anyway, that was the half. Let’s see if the second forty-five minutes offers anything to discuss!
The sides were unchanged at the break but the visitors came out with far more aggression as they looked to break through Ollie Watkins every time they picked up the ball. There were a couple of nervy moments in the City area, but Schmeichel had only one fairly routine save to make in the opening quarter-hour of the second half.
Patson Daka put in a shift, with lots of running and trying to hold the ball up, but his race was run on 70’. Jamie Vardy came on, making his first appearance since before the dawn of time (January). The intensity didn’t really change, but the referee suddenly started producing yellow cards in rapid succession. Madders, KDH, and Mendy all went into the book as well as Douglas Luiz for Villa.
With ten minutes to play, Rodgers sent Harvey Barnes on in place of Lookman. Madders won a free kick in a dangerous spot and force the first save of note from Martinez with the ensuing free kick. The Villa keeper could only parry it, but did will to do so into an area devoid of blue shirts.
With only five minutes of regular time remaining, Ayoze Perez came on for the tiring Tielemans. Those five minutes evaporated quickly (well, in exactly five minutes, but it felt faster) but there was still plenty of time for late drama as seven minutes so time were added on. There was time for it, but not the quality, and so it ended 0-0.
Stop trying to walk it into the back of net have a shot once in a while. What is wrong with trying your luck from long-range.— the foxes arms (@thefoxesarms) April 23, 2022
This was posted just moments before KDH blasted one into orbit.
So much possession, so little to show for it. For those of you who started following the Foxes after the 2014/15 campaign, this is actually a pretty normal late-season mid-table clash. With promotion/relegation and a hateful of European spots to play for, most Premier League matches are meaningful for at least one of the two sides. This wasn’t one of those, and it really showed.
The biggest positive from today’s match had to be the clean sheet from the Wes/Cags back line. This was as comfortable as any match this season for Schmeichel and, while I realize that isn’t the highest of bars to clear, it was impressive nonetheless. Even Mendy looks to be growing into the player we all hoped he could be but never really expected.
The draw gives us 42 points from 32 matches and places us 10th on the table which is a pretty fair reflection of our play this season. One hopes we were saving the fireworks for our next match, the first leg of our historic Europa Conference League semi-final against Jose Mourinho’s Roma at the King Power. Next Sunday, we square off against Tottenham Hotspur in London in the league.