Leicester City dropped all three points to Everton by a score of 2-1 at the King Power on Sunday morning. All the scoring occurred in the first half as the Toffees got goals from Vitaliy Mykolenko and Mason Holgate on either side of a Patson Daka strike. The Foxes laid siege to the visitor’s goal in the second period but couldn’t get anything past keeper Jordan Pickford.
xG map for Leicester - Everton— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) May 8, 2022
the Toffees were not exactly good, but they were good enough to benefit from a few bounces pic.twitter.com/Mkuu3bubpZ
I stand by my prediction of a 2-2 draw even after the fact.
With the season all but over, manager Brendan Rodgers had the opportunity to rest his regulars with an eye toward next season, or perhaps field his strongest XI in an attempt to build some momentum and confidence. Instead, he did a very Brendan Rodgers thing and tried a new shape with some familiar faces: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Daniel Amartey, Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, Nampalys Mendy, Youri Tielemans, Ayoze Perez, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Patson Daka, and Kelechi Iheanacho. If you read that as a 3-1-4-2, then well spotted!
I literally can’t type quickly enough to keep track of how fast the match started. Inside the first three minutes, Iheanacho found Daka’s diagonal run into the box. The Zambia man clipped the ball over Everton keeper Jordan Pickford but Yerry Mina did ever so well slide in and clear the goal-bound effort.
With the Foxes rampant, it was only normal that they would fall behind in spectacular fashion. In their first foray into the City half, the Toffees won a throw deep on the left flank. Alex Iwobi received the ball and found Vitaliy Mykolenko lurking outside the box on the opposite side. The Ukrainian took the looping cross on the volley and could not have hit it more sweetly, lashing it across Schmeichel and into the back of the net.
It should have been two just minutes later, but instead, the Foxes found themselves level. Schmeichel brilliantly saved a close-range Abdoulaye Doucouré effort and started the counter. A hopeful long ball forward from Iheanacho could have been dealt with by Mino or Seamus Coleman but they took each other out instead. The ball fell to Daka, who was one-on-one with England’s #1. There could be only one winner of that duel and Leicester were on even terms.
Parity last exactly as long as it took Everton to win their first corner, as is tradition. Gray swung it into the mixer and Richarlison who had a free run and no marker in sight. Schmeichel made the initial save, but could only parry it as far as Mason Holgate, who nodded home from close range.
The rest of the half was busy, but not especially productive. It was one of the most entertaining periods of football we’ve seen at the King Power in some time, featuring nine shots, seven of which were on target. The match had everything but a favourable scoreline, but for the first time in a long time, we were creating chances and you could see where goals could come from.
Rodgers made one change at the break, introducing Harvey Barnes for Ayoze. There was a little more menace in the tackles right from the whistle, with Mendy of all people seeing (and deserving) an early yellow card and several other tackles leaving opponents on the deck.
Mendy came within millimetres of opening his Premier League scoring account on the hour mark. Receiving the ball from Barnes on the left flank, he decided to emulate his teammate and drift inside and curl it towards the far post. Pickford had to make a sprawling save to concede the corner, which, against this Leicester side, is like winning a goal kick but with extra steps.
That was the Senegal man’s last contribution as Jamie Vardy came on in his stead. City were well on top at this point and Pickford again had to come to Everton’s rescue. A cross found Daka unmarked at the back post. He knocked it down for Barnes, who made good contact and looked for all the world to have scored, but the England man got down well and conceded the corner.
With ten minutes to play and things starting to look a bit laboured, Rodgers made his final change, withdrawing the impressive Daka and throwing Ademola Lookman on. Barnes went just wide with a free header from a Castagne cross as the Foxes. Castagne had his own header saved from a KDH cross. It just wasn’t happening for us today.
I am deeply disappointed by the reactions on social media this morning after this match. The effort was solid and with a little luck (or a less in-form goalkeeper), we score three or four goals or, at the very least, walk away with a draw. We created more good chances we have in any match since Brighton in January. The result was poor, but to blame it on a lack of desire is equally poor.
Schmeichel has come over to the corner to applaud the fans to be met by a chorus of boos.— Jamie Thorpe (@thorpie54) May 8, 2022
Poor all round that. #lcfc
The defeat leaves us 14th on the table with 42 points from 34 matches. The one silver lining is that, with Leeds losing to Arsenal today, we are now officially safe from relegation. Yay? We host relegated Norwich City on Wednesday and then travel to relegated Watford one week from today.