Leicester City had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Brentford at the King Power in the 2022/23 season opener on Sunday. The Foxes led 2-0 through a first-half goal from Timothy Castagne and a second-half strike by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. Ivan Toney drew one back for the visitors on the hour mark and Josh Dasilva levelled it just before injury time to earn a point for the visitors.
The sun was out, the stadium was full, Robbie Williams was on the Tannoy...football was back at the King Power!
With club legend Kasper Schmeichel off to France, the big question was “Who would Rodgers select as his starting goalkeeper?” The answer was “The guy they gave the number 1 shirt to, obviously: Danny Ward.” The starting XI for the first match of the 2022/23 campaign: Ward, Timothy Castagne, Daniel Amartey, Jonny Evans (C), Wesley Fofana, James Justin, Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, James Maddison, Jamie Vardy.
In case it wasn’t clear from the teamsheet (and I can assure you, it wasn’t clear), the Foxes lined up in a...5-3-1-1? I’m pretty sure that’s one of Jack Lee’s Three True Formations. Whatever you called the shape, it was one that produced a great deal of possession and a solid base in defence at the cost of a somewhat plodding attack.
Which is to say, there wasn’t a great deal to discuss in the opening half hour.
On 33’, the Foxes opened the scoring in exactly the fashion one would have anticipated: A corner from Maddison found Castagne’s near-post run. The Belgium wingback glanced it past Raya to give the Foxes a deserved lead. Leicester had been the more threatening side, but that wasn’t the highest bar to clear as the Bees struggled to get out of their own half.
Just before the half-time whistle, Tielemans nearly doubled the lead for City. His long-range effort evaded Raya but came back off the upright. Leicester continued to apply the pressure, albeit gently, but couldn’t find a second goal to close out the first half.
They could, however, find a goal to open the second half. With less than 30 seconds gone from the clock, Vardy teed up Dewsbury-Hall from distance. The Shepshed Pirlo unleashed an unstoppable drive into the corner of the net to double the City advantage.
Things were ever so comfortable for Leicester for the first quarter-hour of the second half when, out of nothing, Brentford got one back. Rico Henry’s pinpoint cross found Ivan Toney six yards from goal on Amartey’s shoulder. The striker brought it down well, turned, and blasted home from short range.
Rodgers responded by withdrawing Dewsbury-Hall and introducing Patson Daka. This made the shape a, well...it was a shape. That’s enough. Let’s leave it at that. If the intent was to slow the match down and prevent Brentford from getting back into the match, it didn’t work. Amartey failed to close down Josh Dasilva on the edge of the area, allowing the substitute to curl a shot past the stranded Ward and secure the draw for the visitors.
For a full hour, the Foxes looked like they would coast to an easy victory. The Bees’ Thomas Frank made some astute substitutions and Brendan Rodgers...didn’t. While one has to appreciate the aggressive intent in hauling off a midfielder for a striker when defending a one-goal lead, one also has to question the wisdom of the move. Leicester were unable to clear the ball out of defence with the midfield being overrun and wound up paying the price.
I hate to start the season with such negativity, but let’s be honest: When you lose a 2-0 lead in 30 minutes, it’s kind of hard to be positive.
The draw puts us 10th on the table as though that means anything at this point in the season. We travel to London to face Arsenal at the Emirates next Saturday and square off against Southampton at the King Power in two weeks.