Yes, I said it, but I strongly believe that Leicester’s loss last night to Sevilla will get their season going, and will be safe for the rest of the season. Even though the Foxes lost 2-1 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, it’s that important away goal that will spur them on not just for the second leg at the King Power Stadium, but for the rest of the season. All they need now in that second leg, is an away goal, and my word will they be hungry for it.
Watching Leicester in that game last night was like a game of two halves. It was a complete juxtaposition. In the first half, Leicester looked lethargic, they played halfheartedly, and the chemistry wasn’t working like it did so successfully last season. You can’t put the excuses on Kante leaving anymore, you’ve had over half a season to sort it out. They conceded an early penalty, which was crucially saved by Schmeichel, however it was a poor strike from 22-year-old, Joaquin Correa. But then 25 minutes in, Sevilla opened the scoring through Pablo Sarabia’s fantastic header, which came off the post. But the reaction from the Leicester players was non-existent for the remainder of the first half.
When the ‘tinker-man’, Claudio Ranieri, changed Ahmed Musa for Demarai Gray, it was like the Foxes had a whole new lease of life. However, Sevilla doubled their lead, when Joaquin Correa scored, lifting the ball over Kasper Schmeichel. But then a perfect ball from Danny Drinkwater, set up Jamie Vardy for a tap in, which was his first Champions League goal, and of course, that crucial away goal.
Could Leicester’s away goal be the turning point for the rest of the season? Yes. Only because it was Jamie Vardy who scored it. If it was a defender or central midfielder who scored it, it wouldn’t have been as important, as Jamie Vardy was on a goal drought, and that goal will do him the world of good. They are one point from the drop, and recently got knocked out of the FA Cup by Milwall, so confidence was very low, but I believe if they put out similar performances to what they did in the second half last night, they will be fine.
Don’t worry, I’m not Gary Lineker in disguise, and will not wear over-sized Leicester City pants is they stay up, or win the Champions League. They’ll need more than a ‘brief’ run of results. Their next match is at home against unpredictable Liverpool on Monday. If they put out a performance similar to their 4-2 win over Manchester City earlier in the season, they could pick up the three points that they desperately need.
One thing that they’ll have to majorly improve is there defending, it has been poor all season. It is a stark contrast to last season where they didn’t leak as many goals. The most interesting thing is that it is the same back five (including goalkeeper) as it was last season, so how can it be so different? Both Wes Morgan and Roberth Huth are in their earlty thirties and are not the quickest of centre halves, so they’re ability to read the game has to be crucial in order to win the ball back. They’ll have some protection due to their new signing in Wilfred Ndidi.
In terms of going forward, the summer signings haven’t lived up to their billing. Islam Slimani and Ahmed Musa don’t help in terms of defending when Leicester are trying to press high up the field. To me, I think that Ranieri should start Demarai Gray in the return leg and for the rest of the season, he has been their brightest player this season. And behind Jamie Vardy, it looks to be last season’s player of the year, Riyad Mahrez, in that no.10 role.
Leicester City will be safe this season, but it will be tight. If they win one match, then surely that’ll snowball into a run of wins. It’s what got West Ham United out of danger, and it will happen to the Foxes, if they do the same.