Leicester City broke down a stubborn Stoke City side to run out 2-0 winners at the King Power on Saturday afternoon. A slick move saw Kelechi Iheanacho give the Foxes the lead midway through the first half. Substitute Jamie Vardy’s late strike put the match out of reach for the visitors, who tallied only a single shot on target.
There were long periods of play consisting of little more than the Leicester back line knocking the ball around in the Stoke half. How is this different from Puel ball or whatever Brendan was doing? There’s a sense of inevitability and belief in what the Foxes are doing. They believe in the patient approach, and it’s paid dividends. Will that belief survive a few defeats on the trot? We’ll see, although it may be a good long while.
It was one of those matches were almost every player was good and none of them were great. I would like to give a shout-out to Hamza Choudhury. He’s not the prototypical left-back, but he did a fine job there today. I’d be remiss if I didn’t note how Ndidi changed and dominated the game when he was introduced. SMDH.
The victory gives us 10 wins from 11 matches. That’s 30 points. Even I can figure that one out. We remain top of the table going into the international break, 10 points clear of 3rd placed Preston. Championship football resumes in two weeks when we travel to south Wales to face Swansea City. The following Wednesday, we play host to high-flying Sunderland.
Leicester City: Mads Hermansen, Ricardo Pereira (C), Harry Souttar, Jannik Vestergaard, Hamza Choudhury, Cesare Casadei, Harry Winks, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Yunus Akgun, Abdul Fatawu, Kelechi Iheanacho
Stoke City: Mark Travers, Jordan Thompson, Luke McNally, Ben Pearson, Junior Tchamadeu, Wouter Burger, Bae Jun-Ho, Daniel Johnson, Josh Laurent, Nathan Lowe, Mehdi Leris
Key Moments and Notes
2’- If you liked the first half of the Preston match, you’re probably going to like this one. Stoke are down several key players and they’re setting as deep as any side I’ve seen.
17’- The keepers are spectators right now. The Leicester backline is comfortably knocking it around in the final third which should be scarier than it is.
20’- Yunus and Casadei occupy the same space on the right when a pass comes in. The Turkey international wins out against his teammate and picks out Iheanacho’s run into the box. It’s a glorious cross, but the Seniorman glances wide from close range. It wouldn’t have counted as the flag is up for offside.
24’- GOAL! That’s how you break down a low block. KDH plays a square ball across the top of the box to Ricardo. He shapes to shoot, drawing the defence, and then slips it to Iheanacho. His first touch takes him to the left side of the six-yard box but there’s magic in that left boot. He just passes it inside the near post to give the Foxes the lead.
27’- Stoke make a rare foray into the Leicester half. Lowe is off to the races and it’s a race you’d expect him to win. Vestergaard does exactly what you’d expect and takes a yellow for the team. He’s just back from suspension and working on the next one. Good lad.
40’- The visitors win their first corner after a scrappy bit of play on the Leicester. It’s a clever routine that finds Thompson on the right in space, but he gets his header all wrong and it goes out for a goal kick.
45’- The half ends as it started, which doesn’t give yours truly a great deal to write about. 77% of the possession resulted in 3 shots, 2 of which were on target and 1 which found the back of the net. Stoke defended well but failed to take a single shot. Expect that to change after the break.
HALF TIME: Leicester City 1 - 0 Stoke City
46’- No changes in terms of personnel to start the second half, but the Foxes switch off directly from the kickoff. Tchamadeu has acres of space to run down the Leicester left. He crosses for Lowe, who has a free header from close range. He puts it over when he really should have scored.
52’- Yunus cuts inside from the right and, after having passed on a couple of shooting opportunities, tries to sneak a low shot inside the near post. Travers gets down well and pushes it wide. The ensuing corner goes directly to the keeper.
59’- It’s getting a bit scrappy. There’s a lack of crispness to the Foxes’ passing and Maresca isn’t impressed.
62’- Yunus comes off for Stephy Mavididi. This means Fatawu shifts over to the right. His first act is to try to dribble out of his area and it doesn’t come off. Leicester got away with it, but let’s not see any more of that.
71’- Stoke have started to press the Foxes which means has livened things up. A brilliant Leicester counter sees the ball fall to Fatawu inside the area. He shifts it to his left foot, makes space, and blasts it just wide.
75’- Close! Iheanacho shows terrific control in midfield, turning his man and slipping the ball to Dewsbury-Hall. He’s (barely) behind the defence and one-on-one with Travers. The keeper wins this one, anticipating the chip and making a smart save.
77’- Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi come on for Cesare and Iheanacho. That seems unfair.
79’- GOAL! Dewsbury-Hall plays a square ball to Fatawu in space on the right. He taps it first time to find Ndidi’s run into the area. He squares it for Vardy who gets the simplest of tap-ins.
WHAT A GOAL ⚽— Leicester City Xtra. (@XtraLeicester) October 7, 2023
ONE TOUCH PASSING, AND THE TO FINISH IT
ENZO BALL pic.twitter.com/ONU5xY3wZU
85’- Conor Coady and Marc Albrighton come on for Souttar and Fatawu. This system doesn’t play to the big Aussie’s strengths, but he’s put in a fine shift.
87’- Close! Leicester work a good throw-in move. Mavididi gets away from his man and lofts a ball into the box for Ndidi to chase. He out muscles his defender and shoots across the keeper, but Travers does well to turn it out for a corner. The cross comes to the Nigerian, but his header is just wide with the keeper beaten.
90+2’- A ball over the top finds the run of...yes, it’s Ndidi again. He’s one-on-one with Travers, but he blasts over the bar.
FULL TIME: Leicester City 2 - 0 Stoke City
Signing off for the international break with three more points pic.twitter.com/r0QYnGqkI8— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 7, 2023
Makes note: “Winning is fun. It’s way more fun than the other thing. You know. The opposite of winning.”