Three talking points as managerless Leicester battled to three points at Swansea
Leicester City began life after Craig Shakespeare with a welcome win as they proved to have too much for Swansea City and condemned Paul Clement’s side to a fourth home defeat of the season.
Shakespeare was given his marching orders following Leicester’s drab 1-1 draw with West Brom on Monday night but they showed no signs of mourning as they thoroughly outplayed their Welsh opponents.
Swansea were indebted to Lukasz Fabianski for keeping Leicester out early on, making a string of critical saves from Shinji Okazaki, Marc Albrighton and Jamie Vardy. However, his solo resolve came to a somewhat inevitable end before the break when Federico Fernandez inadvertently headed into his own net.
The visitors then doubled their lead four minutes into the second-half, turning their dominance into a second when Okazaki finished off a Leicester counter-attack with a close-range effort beyond Fabianksi.
Alfie Mawson pulled one back for the Swans when he hooked in but the hosts never looked like threatening Leicester’s lead further, and the Foxes held on for just their second win of the season.
Lightning strikes twice for managerless Leicester
It may be coming up to Halloween, but there is an eerie sense of déjà vu around Leicester City as, almost eight months after Craig Shakespeare started his reign as caretaker manager with a desperately needed win over Liverpool, Michael Appleton began his turn in the caretaker role with three points.
The dismissal of Claudio Ranieri sparked a drastic turnaround in Leicester’s fortunes back in late February, with the Foxes embarking on a run of five successive wins in Shakespeare’s opening five games in charge.
Appleton couldn’t have got off to a better start on Saturday, with the ex-Oxford United boss leading his side to an impressive three points with a performance that was a far cry from Monday’s stalemate.
On that occasion, the Foxes were dull, toothless and largely uninspiring. However, against Swansea, they seemed a livelier outfit and had a better tempo to their play, able to carve the hosts apart with regularity.
With struggling Everton and Stoke City to come over the next two Premier League matches there is a genuine chance that Appleton can start his caretaker role with a rousing run reminiscent of his predecessor – even if he remains coy on the prospect of being Leicester’s next manager.
Swansea home form causing concern
Paul Clement would have seen Saturday as a very winnable fixture prior to kick-off, with Leicester arriving on the back of a tough week behind the scenes and devoid of confidence after a poor start to the new season.
But it transpired into an all-too-familiar afternoon at the Liberty Stadium as they fell to a fourth home league defeat this season, leaving them above the relegation spots by virtue of goal difference alone.
Their home form has been the source of much frustration this year, already falling to defeat to Manchester United, Newcastle, Watford, and now Leicester, with the latter three games being ones that boss Clement would have seen as a potential three points had his side applied themselves right.
The worrying thing for Swansea is that they never looked like getting anything from the game against Leicester – you can argue that the score-line flattered the home side too – and if they had managed to steal a result then there would have been a huge sense of injustice after a poor team display.
Last season it was Swansea’s home form that salvaged their Premier League status, claiming 27 of their 41 points at the Liberty, and they need to re-find this level of form if the Swans want to stay out of trouble.
Riyad Mahrez starting to pick up form once again
It is no secret that when Riyad Mahrez plays well, Leicester play well.
He was the main architect of their title triumph and, since then, Leicester’s best results have come when their Algerian has been pulling the strings – although this has been too sparse in recent times.
Yet, after popping up with a critical equaliser – and his first Premier League goal of the season – on Monday against West Brom, he was at his scintillating best against Swansea as he ran them ragged.
He was given plenty of the ball by his teammates and he thrived on it, looking to run directly at a retreating Swansea defence time and time again, and it is no surprise he created both of their goals.
It was clear to see that the confidence was coursing through his veins again, and there was one vintage Mahrez moment during the second-half where he brought down a high-ball with the deftest of touches before, in the same motion, he turned a Swansea City defender and left him flat on the floor.
It is these sort of audacious moments that the 26-year-old should be producing week-in, week-out such is his raw potential, and Leicester will hope that Saturday was just the beginning of his revival.