Leicester City left west London with a hard-earned draw against Brentford on Saturday afternoon. Mathias Jensen gave the hosts a lead at the half with a deflected effort following a corner. Harvey Barnes equalised for the Foxes after the break. City were well on top, but were forced to settle for a single point even after Shandon Baptiste’s late red card for the Bees.
Manager Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the side that lost to Chelsea last Saturday, none bigger than the selection of a new goalkeeper to his starting XI: Daniel Iversen, Ricardo Pereira, Daniel Amartey, Harry Souttar, Timothy Castagne, Wilfred Ndidi, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Tete, James Maddison (C), Harvey Barnes, and Patson Daka.
The opening ten minutes saw the Foxes pinned in their own half...no, make that their own penalty area. The defence held, with Souttar showing his worth time and again by winning absolutely everything in the air. Iversen didn’t have a great deal to do, but the threat was there.
City responded well, carving out several opportunities on the break. Both Barnes and Daka had half-chances go wide and over the bar respectively with keeper David Raya struggling. At this point, it seemed as though the match had settled into a rhythm and one that favoured the Foxes. Ndidi was winning everything in the midfield and it looked as though Leicester were starting to gain the ascendancy.
All of that good work was undone by a well-worked corner routine and some dumb luck. Brentford took a corner on the Leicester left short, then to an unmarked runner outside the “D”, who then reversed it back to the Brentford right. It was quite clever, but the City defence dealt with the initial ball. The clearance fell to Mathias Jensen, whose shot may have lacked power, but it deflected off of Ricardo and KDH, wrong-footing Iversen and giving the Bees the lead on the half-hour mark.
The rest of the half just sort of “happened” with no clear chances at either end. The closest thing to an event came when Madders was wiped out in midfield and didn’t get the call. The captain, already on a yellow, gave the referee an earful which, I mean, fair enough, it was a pretty obvious foul, but when you’re on a yellow, maybe dial it back a little? He escaped without a second yellow but it seemed silly.
Nothing much is going on and I’ve been dying to use this. I’m sorry.
Anyway, if that’s what I’m talking about, that probably tells you everything you need to know about the football. The whistle went for halftime and the Foxes had...not a mountain to climb, but a lot of work to do in the last 45. Since their return to the Premier League, Brentford had not lost a match from a winning position.
The gaffer didn’t make any changes at the half and his, um, “non-moves,” paid immediate dividends. KDH did incredibly well on the left wing, beating several defenders with his quick feet, before squaring the ball to Madders. The former Norwich City midfielder split the defence to find Barnes alone against the keeper. The winger kept his cool and lifted it over Raya with the outside of his boot, giving the Foxes a precious equaliser.
Leicester were marginally on top, but Rodgers wasn’t satisfied with “marginally” and made a double substitution on 66’. Dennis Praet and Jamie Vardy came on for Daka and Tete. The Foxes dominated the next fifteen minutes, winning multiple corners and free kicks in dangerous-but-not-shooting-range areas. Nothing came of it, but at least the ball was in the Brentford half of the pitch.
Rodgers made one last throw of the dice in the 90th minute as Madders was on the receiving end of a heavy foul by Shandon Baptiste. Kelechi Iheanacho came on for the captain to try to find a winner in the five minutes of injury time. Baptiste’s next action was to go in late on KDH and pick up his second yellow in rapid succession. Leicester weren’t able to take advantage of the brief advantage, and the match ended level.
On paper, this is a good result for Leicester: A point away against a team challenging for Europe is something you’d normally be thrilled to take, but these are not normal times and a win would have been huge (and not entirely undeserved). The effort was there, but we are struggling mightily to create chances against packed defences and to move the ball quickly enough to prevent defences from getting into position.
I don't know that Daka is all that well suited for our current attacking philosophy. He'd be better on lightning counter type team. With 9 winding down and only Kel otherwise; I think we're too limited in options at ST. I hope @LCFC bring in a technically gifted ST soon.— Buffalo Superbowl Parade (@BufSuprbwlPrade) March 18, 2023
Or someone who can get the ball to said striker in dangerous positions.
I’d like to call attention to Iversen’s performance between the sticks, but in all honesty, he had very little to do. Souttar was the primary reason for this: The big Aussie swept up everything that came his way with calm efficiency. It also helped that Wilfred Ndidi looked like Wilfred Ndidi again, winning ball after ball in midfield and tracking back to fill the gaps in the defence when the Bees swarmed forward.
Souttar was MOTM for me. Closely followed by Rodgers's hand clapping. Both had a massive effect on the game! #LCFC #BRELEI pic.twitter.com/HunnGZPkBF— GlennTheFoxile (@GlennTheFoxile) March 18, 2023
I’m not saying you’re wrong about either one, Glenn...
The draw gives us 25 points from 27 matches which is...not good...but it does lift us to 16th on the table and enough to ensure we remain outside the relegation zone for another week regardless of any other results. This match brings a close to our March fixtures as the international break is up next. After that, we travel back to London to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on 1 April. We host Aston Villa the following Tuesday. Here’s hoping you like the expression “true six-pointer” because you’re going to be hearing it throughout April.