Leicester City dropped all three points at Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon. Two second-half goals from Brennan Johnson doomed Leicester to their fourth Premier League defeat on the trot as the Foxes struggled to create chances.
I know this is missing the point of the tweet, but he wouldn’t be a bad replacement...
Manager Brendan Rodgers’ selections were a textbook example of “making do with what you’ve got.” The starting XI: Danny Ward, Timothy Castagne, Daniel Amartey, Wout Faes, Luke Thomas, Youri Tielemans, Nampalys Mendy, Wilfred Ndidi, Marc Albrighton (C), Harvey Barnes, and Jamie Vardy.
The first quarter hour was a showcase of the sort of sporadic quality you’d expect of two teams with fewer points than matches played. Both sides were able to move the ball briskly up the pitch as suspect defences offered little resistance, but neither attack had the ability to make them pay.
Leicester’s first big chance fell to Barnes on the quarter hour. The commentators noted that Albrighton’s crosses were dangerous, but that the Foxes needed another runner in the area to take advantage. The winger, who probably wasn’t listening to the broadcast but you never knew, flew into the centre behind Vardy and met the cross in space just ten yards from the goal. He got it all kinds of wrong, putting it wide, but if the Foxes could continue to create chances like that, a goal would surely be the reward.
Forest reacted to this by rudely hogging the ball for the next twenty minutes. Forest being Forest, they did remarkably little with it, but it prevented City from getting anything going. The Foxes found themselves doing a lot of defending, something they’ve had a good deal of experience doing this year. The quality was also reasonably good, which hasn’t always been the case.
The whistle blew with the score 0-0 and that was absolutely a fair reflection of the run of play. It wasn’t a terrible half of football, but it was much more of a “League Championship playoff contenders” sort of match than what you’d expect of Premier League sides. Here’s hoping that’s merely an apt analogy and not sinister foreshadowing.
Rodgers kept the faith with his starting XI to start the second period. The Foxes struggled to get the ball out -of their own half, giving the ball away to the hosts time after time. It was a bit of a surprise that the first big chance of the half fell to City. Tielemans won the ball in midfield with runners on either side of him. He picked out -Barnes on the left but the winger put his first-time effort just wide with the keeper beaten.
Leicester were made to pay almost immediately in genuinely farcical fashion. A through ball found Brennan Johnson behind the defence. He rounded Ward and tapped the ball home as the flag went up as he appeared to be well offside and he seemed to know it. Thus, no one was more surprised that the goal-scorer when VAR overruled the referee and gave the goal.
Rodgers’ reaction was as immediate as it was decisive: Off came Thomas, Mendy, and Albrighton as Kelechi Iheanacho, Dennis Praet, and Lewis Brunt. This presumably resulted in some sort of “formation,” although I’m not going to pretend to be sure as to what it was. Anyway, it was starting to resemble a proper derby now as tempers were rising on both sides. Referee Paul Tierney was struggling mightily, letting some shoves go while others received whistles or even cautions.
There was no controversy over Forest’s second. Yet another break with Leicester having players pushed forward. Ndidi did well to slow the attack in midfield, but a perfect pass put Johnson through again and he did well to beat Ward with an angled drive from the right side of the box.
With five minutes to play, Forest keeper Dean Henderson went down with a leg injury. I mention this because he received eight full minutes of treatment before the match resumed. While he was down, five minutes went up on the board. For some reason, the final whistle blew on 96’, a time for which there is literally no possible mathematic justification. Don’t get me wrong: The only thing it did was prevent Forest from getting a third, but it was still very strange from Tierney.
There’s no defending that. People will point at Barnes’ misses and say they’re why we lost, but let’s be honest: Those were the only two chances of note we created. I get that having Mendy, Amartey, and Ndidi on the pitch at the same time isn’t going to do anything for your attack (not anything good, at least), but this was Forest. Forest weren’t good and a side of mid-table quality would have put them to the sword. This is a relegation scrap.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it Pamela?
The defeat leaves us on 17 points from 19 matches. I will use my advanced calculating skills to determine that we’re on a pace for 34 points for the season, and 34 isn’t a good number at all. 34 would make Claudio sad. Next up, we host Brighton and Hove Albion next Saturday, then we travel to the West Midlands to face Walsall in the FA Cup.