Connect with us

Leicester City

Leicester City 2-2 Manchester United: Three talking points from the King Power

Published

on

Photo: Reuters

Manchester United lost further ground on rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table as Harry Maguire’s dramatic injury-time strike salvaged a late point for ten-man Leicester City.

Heading into the weekend 11 points behind their city neighbours, Jose Mourinho’s side fell behind in the first-half when Jamie Vardy slotted into the corner following a blistering counter-attacking move.

The visitors pushed for an equaliser and got their reward five minutes before the break, with Juan Mata capitalising on some pinball inside the Leicester penalty area to arrow a low drive into the net.

And it was the Spaniard who turned the game around shortly before the hour mark with a sublime free-kick from the edge of the area, curling an effort just over the wall and into the roof of the goal.

It seemed like the visitors were well on their way to collecting a precious three points when substitute Daniel Amartey was shown two yellow cards in the space of 17 minutes, although both Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard missed a host of gilt-edged chances to make the advantage more comfortable.

This wastefulness in front of goal came back to bite them as, with the last kick of the game, Harry Maguire popped up unmarked to prod beyond David de Gea and send the King Power into raptures.

After Manchester City comfortably saw off Bournemouth earlier in the day the late setback sees United now fall to 13 points adrift of the league leaders, whilst Leicester City remain in eighth place.


Leicester late show dents United’s faint title hopes

Christmas Day may well soon be upon us but there certainly wasn’t a merry feeling on the red side of Manchester last night as Manchester City put one hand firmly on the Premier League title.

Never in the history of English top-flight football has a gap between first and second been as vast as 13 points on Christmas Day, and if Manchester United – or any other team for that matter – are going to stop Pep Guardiola’s men from winning the title we’re set for some second-half of the year.

It was the unlikeliest of stoppage time goals from the unlikeliest of sources, but Leicester City defender Harry Maguire was in the right place at the right time to salvage a point at the death.

In truth it was a scarcely deserved point but it goes to prove that a one-goal lead is always a precarious one, and credit should go to the hosts for piling men forward for the final ten minutes despite being a man down.

And whilst the King Power erupted the moment the ball nestled in the back of the net, the desolate look on the face of Jose Mourinho on the bench was one of a man who knows the title’s all but gone.

A run of games against the Foxes, Burnley (twice), Southampton and Everton until the latter part of January presented United with a decent chance of putting some sort of pressure on Manchester City, who have to face the prospect of Liverpool at Anfield during the same five weeks.

But his side have fallen at the first hurdle and, unless something remarkable happens, the focus should now turn to securing second spot in the league and a possible run in the Champions League.

Mata shines but Mourinho’s men left to rue missed chances

On a night where Manchester United needed to get a positive result to at least try and keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the table they were denied three points in the cruellest of ways.

However, whilst the manner of Harry Maguire’s late winner will cause anger, the main frustration should lie in the fact that a team of United’s quality and calibre couldn’t put the game to bed earlier.

Jose Mourinho labelled his side as ‘childish’ in his post-match interview, citing the fact that numerous ‘incredible chances’ were missed, and it’s hard to disagree with the Portuguese tactician’s summary of the final 25 minutes of football.

From the moment that Leicester went down to ten-men they were vulnerable in defence, pushing numbers forward in search of an equaliser yet in doing so leaving huge amounts of gaps in defence.

And United can only blame themselves for not wrapping up the three points earlier. Jesse Lingard started the ball rolling when he rounded Kasper Schmeichel only to see his effort – with an open goal at his mercy – come back off the upright, Marcus Rashford missed two glorious chances to seal proceedings for the night and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial were guilty of the same too.

There was little wrong with the performance as a whole and it could easily have finished 4-1 or even 5-1 had they not been so wasteful, but when trailing the leaders by so many points performances alone aren’t enough anymore.

One man who will most definitely be left ruing his teammates lack of composure is Juan Mata, who put in his best display in a United shirt this season and took them to the brink of three points.

The Spaniard was at his masterful and assured best throughout, exemplified by his two sumptuous goals – the second of which was a glorious curling free-kick – and he showed he still has a part to play at Old Trafford this season.

But on the day even he couldn’t lead United to victory, and it’s a long way back to City now.

Puel’s Leicester revival shows no sign of stopping

On the face of it, some may call it a fortunate draw.

But a last-gasp winner aside, Leicester City have been making remarkable improvements since Claude Puel took over at the helm and they seem to be re-finding a spark from the 2016 season.

All of a sudden they’re back playing to their counter-attacking strengths, utilising the raw pace that Riyad Mahrez, Demarai Gray and Marc Albrighton have to break out of their own half before consistently providing the dangerous Jamie Vardy with intricate passes and through balls in attack.

It was all epitomised in the Leicester opener, with Mahrez bursting forward and patiently holding the ball up knowing that Vardy was going to be steaming up the pitch alongside him.

The England striker delivered just that, stroking home a neat finish to notch his 50th Premier League goal, and in doing so he became the first Leicester player to reach that landmark in the competition.

Whilst Manchester United arguably would have deserved to win had they hung on to their lead the hosts had chances of their own, with Harry Maguire and Christian Fuchs both spurning clear-cut opportunities, and no-one will begrudge the Foxes a point that sees them move closer to the top seven and European football again.

The spirit and fight shown in the ten-men will also provide hope for upcoming fixtures against Liverpool and Chelsea, games that’ll provide a further test of how far they have come under Puel.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Leicester City

Tottenham would be the perfect move for Leicester star Demarai Gray

Published

on

Photo: Getty Images

Having failed in their bid to bring Demarai Gray to Wembley for the 2017/18 season, Tottenham could be reigniting the interest in the hope of signing the young winger ahead of their move to New White Hart Lane.

Reports originating from ESPN say that Spurs are looking to sign the England under 21 captain after Leicester City refused to do business for the former Birmingham man in the past.

Gray’s form has not been as convincing as some may have hoped for this season, with just four goals and three assists from 39 appearances in all competitions, but that has not put Daniel Levy and company off.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Demarai Gray has found his game time limited of late, despite only missing three Premier League games to date this season. Since the turn of the year, the winger has made only four starts for the Foxes and may relish an opportunity to be trusted more regularly, particularly at a club like Tottenham.

Working under Mauricio Pochettino would undoubtedly be a huge draw given his reputation for developing young players. That is believed to be key to his interest in Gray, who could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Eric Dier and Dele Alli in joining the club and going on to become regulars in the Premier League and for England.

Leicester will not be keen to part ways with one of their most exciting young talents and will command a huge price, which may put Levy off, but there are few English players in his age range with such potential and if anyone could justify such a fee, it may well be Gray.

Continue Reading

English Premier League

17 goals in 32 games: Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy better now than title-winning season

The Englishman’s fine form has gone somewhat under the radar this season.

Jake Jackman

Published

on

Photo: Getty Images

Jamie Vardy was a late developer, but he has emerged as one of the best strikers in the Premier League since Leicester City were promoted to the division.

His best season came when the Foxes sprung a surprise to win the league title during the 2015/16 campaign.

It would have been easy for the striker to trail off after that incredible year, but he has continued to work hard and is going into this summer’s World Cup as England’s form striker.

Considering Leicester are finishing the season with a stutter, the performances and consistency of Vardy have gone under the radar, but he deserves a lot of credit for his excellent goal-scoring campaign.

In 32 Premier League matches, he has scored 17 goals at a rate of one every 165.2 minutes. It is impressive for any striker to score as regularly as that and the 31-year-old will feel that he is at the peak of his powers.

Leicester have lost three of their last four matches and that has meant that the focus hasn’t been on the team. However, Vardy continues to deliver the goods in the final third, having scored in each of the Foxes’ last five matches.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

The England international currently has the record for scoring in the most consecutive Premier League matches scored. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that he has managed to hit another hot streak.

It can even be argued that Vardy has improved since Leicester’s league-winning season, especially when it comes to the mental side of the game.

He has become a more intelligent player and that is evident through his positioning and anticipation in the final third.

The 31-year-old gets a lot of chances from being in the right place in the right time, whereas during the 2015-16 campaign, the majority of his goals were carbon copies of each other. There would be a long ball over the top and his pace would give him the chance. Now, he is a much more complete player.

In addition to improving the mental side of his game, Vardy has become a more clinical finisher as shown by his sharp increase in chance conversion.

During the incredible title-winning season, the striker had a chance conversion rate of 20.9%. This campaign, it stands at a very respectable 28.8%. This is due to the striker gaining more experience and knowing how to take the chances that come his way.

Michael Owen once said that the Leicester City man wasn’t a natural finisher. That is no longer the case.

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

The stats also show a style-shift in Vardy, as he averages only 0.39 ball recoveries per ninety minutes, as opposed to the impressive 1.47 that he managed during the excellent season of two years ago.

This suggests that the striker realises that his body can no longer go as it once could and he is decreasing his overall workload due to this. As a result, he can focus on taking up dangerous positions and scoring goals.

Although Vardy is not likely to surpass his 2015/16 total of 24 goals, it can be argued that this season is just as impressive. He is playing in a mid-table side and has shown an improvement in his finishing, which was already at a high level during the title-winning campaign.

The Foxes front-man knows that he won’t get as many chances to score as he did back then, but he is making sure that he makes the most of them.

England will favour Harry Kane this summer in Russia, but the Leicester City forward will have a big role to play for the Three Lions. His form this season shouldn’t be ignored.

Continue Reading

Bournemouth

Leicester City 1-1 Bournemouth: Three talking points from the King Power

Rob Meech

Published

on

Leicester City
Photo: Getty Images

Riyad Mahrez’s stunning 97th-minute free-kick rescued a point for Leicester City against Bournemouth.

Mahrez, who had been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City in the January transfer window, curled the ball past Asmir Begovic from 30 yards to deny the Cherries victory in a grandstand finish at the King Power Stadium.

Joshua King had given Bournemouth a first-half lead when he stepped up to dispatch a spot-kick after being fouled inside the area.

The Foxes threw everything at their opponents in the second period but had to wait until deep into added-time for a dramatic equaliser.

Here are three talking points…

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Redemption for Mahrez after troubling period

The Algerian’s attempts to engineer a switch to City and subsequent failure to report to training had not been well received by Leicester supporters.

Mahrez had been a key figure in the Foxes’ phenomenal Premier League title triumph two years ago, but his reputation suffered a battering when he made it clear he saw his future away from the club.

After a difficult period for all involved, Mahrez is back in the fold and now back in the fans’ good books.

His last-minute goal against the Cherries certainly was evidence of his redemption.

Thirty yards out, the 27-year-old started the ball outside the wall and watched it bend back past Begovic’s outstretched right hand.

Leicester, who have never beaten Bournemouth in the top-flight, are winless in five Premier League matches, but they remain eighth in the table.

With Mahrez’s reintegration seemingly complete, a fruitful finish to the season could even help them push for a European place.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Howe ‘disgusted’ as Bournemouth concede so late

Bournemouth’s backs had been firmly up against the wall in the second half as they sought to hold on to their tenuous advantage.

It looked to have been a worthwhile effort until Mahrez’s moment of magic.

A share of the spoils was probably fair in the context of the game, but Cherries manager Eddie Howe admitted he felt ‘disgusted’ after watching the visitors concede so late.

Only four minutes of stoppage-time had been scheduled, but an injury to Simon Francis as well as a substitution meant referee Lee Probert played nearly double that amount.

Despite missing out on what would have been a crucial win, Bournemouth are edging towards safety.

They have lost only once since Christmas, a run that has helped them climb out of the relegation zone and amass 33 points.

Two more victories from their remaining nine fixtures should be enough to secure Premier League football for a fourth successive campaign.

(Photo by Roland Harrison/Getty Images)

Summer will be a key time for both clubs

In a league that is dominated by the so-called ‘Big Six’, the primary aim of the other 14 clubs is survival.

As mentioned above, both Leicester and Bournemouth are all but guaranteed to be playing in the top-flight next season.

The question for both in the summer will be, how can they push on?

The first job for the Foxes’ hierarchy and manager Claude Puel will be deciding the future of Mahrez.

Do they cash in on their star player and reinvest the funds into the squad, or do they try to tie him down to a new contract?

Bournemouth’s ambitions are perhaps not as high as Leicester’s, but after finishing ninth last season, another mid-table position will consolidate their status as a bona fide Premier League outfit.

On the field, there may be some significant outgoings as Howe looks to freshen his resources.

The out-of-favour Harry Arter is one player who looks likely to leave the south coast.

Off the field, the club will hope its plans for a new stadium get closer to becoming a reality.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2017 The Boot Room.