Leicester City were overwhelmed by Brighton and Hove Albion by a margin of five goals to two Sunday morning at the Amex. It was level at the half as goals by Kelechi Iheanacho and Patson Daka were cancelled by a Luke Thomas own goal and a Moises Caicedo strike. It was all Seagulls in the second half as Leandro Trossard gave Brighton the lead and Alexis Mac Allister scored through a penalty and a free kick.
When it isn’t working, you change it up and it certainly isn’t working for Leicester so far this season. Manager Brendan Rodgers changed it up, dropping Jamie Vardy and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. The starting XI: Danny Ward, James Justin, Wilfred Ndidi, Jonny Evans (C), Luke Thomas, Youri Tielemans, Boubakary Soumare, James Maddison, Kelechi Iheancho, Harvey Barnes, Patson Daka.
It took less than a minute for the changes to be vindicated. Tielemans won a ball deep in the Brighton half with a strong shoulder barge. He touched it Barnes, who reversed it to Daka on the left. His low cross just evaded the keeper and fell to an unmarked Iheanacho who couldn’t miss from six yards.
The hosts equalised before the ten-minute mark in the simplest of fashion. The Foxes’ defence was entirely too narrow as Leandro Trossard received the ball unmarked on the City right. He had all the time in the world to pick out a cross to the back post. Solly March rose highest to head back across the box, but Thomas got in the way and turned into the net for an own goal.
The early lead was turned to a deficit just five minutes later. Madders gave the ball away in the midfield allowing Brighton to break. It was 3-on-2 as the City defence were slow to get back into shape. Enock Mwepu carried the ball into the area before picking out Moises Caicedo on the right. The Ecuadoran fired a shot across Ward that rippled the back of the net and put the Seagulls on top.
It was very nearly three on the half hour. Ward’s first touch from a Ndidi backpass was too heavy. Danny Welbeck took it off him, but the striker’s attempted lob found the roof of the net. Wilf had words with Ward afterwards, followed by gestures, followed by even more words. They did not appear to be words of encouragement.
Way to endear yourself even further to me Wilf, lovely stuff— Helen Nutter (@helsy33) September 4, 2022
A Fosse Posse alumnus weighs in, and she’s not wrong.
The Foxes were level just minutes later. Tielemans spotted some Daka’s run and launched an inch-perfect ball over the top. The pass dropped just over Lewis Dunk and the Zambia striker’s first touch was velcro, leaving him one-on-one with Robert Sanchez. The keeper charged out, but Daka kept his nerve and cooly slotted home from the edge of the area.
Come for the ball by Tielemans, stay for Daka's backflip.— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 4, 2022
Youri Tielemans finds Patson Daka with a PERFECT ball over the top and the match is level once again! #LCFC
: @USA_Network & @TelemundoSports #MyPLMorning | #BHALEI pic.twitter.com/rpXbrax1cF
I get serious Vardy-in-2015/16 vibes when he has the ball in front of the net.
That was quite the half.
City were incredibly dangerous when they got the ball to the strikers, but with no one to win the ball in midfield and a shaky defence, those opportunities were few and far between. Brighton offered more threat throughout the half, but a little clinical finishing goes a long way, doesn’t it?
Rodgers made one change at the break, removing Barnes and introducing Timothy Castagne. The shape shifted from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 or a 5-3-2 or something. Castagne and Thomas were both on the left if that helps.
Those slackers from the south coast took almost twice as long as the Foxes did to get the ball in the back of the net in the first. Mwepu whiffed on Pascal Groß’s free-kick, which was cleared as far as Alexis Mac Allister just outside the area. The Argentine could not have struck it better, rifling a shot that nearly tore the side netting off. An absurdly lengthy delay saw it chalked off for Mwepu having been offside.
The next time there would be no reprieve. A simple through ball found Trossard get in behind the defence. He drew Ward in and then lashed the ball inside to the far post. VAR gave it a look, but he timed his run perfectly and the goal stood.
It got worse on 70’ when Ndidi found himself isolated against Trossard on the right wing. The Nigeria man tried to shepherd the ball out of play but Trossard got around him and the midfielder-cum-defender brought him down in the box. Mac Allister took it and blasted down the middle with Ward diving to his right.
Rodgers made a triple substitution, sending Daniel Amartey, Dewsbury-Hall, and Vardy into the fray for Soumare, Iheanacho, and Tielemans. Presumably, this also coincided with a change to the shape but any attempt to divine a formation from the amorphous mass of bodies on the pitch would be an exercise in folly.
Brighton were in complete control now as the Foxes couldn’t get out of their own half. The commentators spend the last quarter hour reminding us that Rogers wasn’t happy and how the two-goal margin flattered Leicester. The infuriating thing was that they were right; City were beaten and just trying to hang on.
Mac Allister got another one from a free kick deep in injury time. It seemed inevitable to be honest.
GOAL 5-2 Brighton. Mac Allister with a superb free kick into the top corner that gives Ward no chance and seals a miserable day on the south coast for #LCFC. Beaten by a considerably better team. Big problems for Rodgers and City. This has to be rock bottom.— Rob Tanner (@RobTannerLCFC) September 4, 2022
I would have thought last week was “rock bottom,” yet here we are...
As nice as it was to see both strikers get goals, you got the sense it would be a long day when we lined up with a midfielder in the back four and no defensive midfielder. Even though the amplitude of the scoreline was different, we saw the same problems we displayed against Chelsea. The players don’t believe in each other, or the system, or much of anything these days.
The loss leaves us on one point from six matches. If you’re not mathematically inclined, that puts us on a pace for six points for the season. We remain bottom of the table. There’s no sugar-coating that fact as, on form, that is where we belong. Next up, we host Aston Villa next Saturday. After that, we return to London to face Tottenham Hotspur