FIVE Things We Learned From Leicester City’s Defeat To Arsenal

FIVE Things We Learned From Leicester City’s Defeat To Arsenal
Aug 14, 2017

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Initially a bitter pill to swallow for many Leicester City fans, the opening day loss to Arsenal has thrown up some positive talking points in amongst the obvious negatives. Leicester looked restored to the Premier League winning side we witnessed under Claudio Ranieri, with Jamie Vardy frightening Arsenal’s defence at every moment.

However, Leicester’s defensive woes cost them yet again, losing in the final minutes thanks to a decisive Olivier Giroud header. There are positives for Leicester to take away, though. Here are five things we learned from the seven-goal thriller.

1. Jamie Vardy: The Talisman

There is absolutely no question that Vardy has benefitted from a well-deserved rest and a full pre-season; the England man was absolutely outstanding and remains a talismanic figure within the Leicester ranks. He was full of energy and running and Arsenal’s back-line struggled to cope with the sheer directness of his play. Vardy’s ruthless streak was definitely evident, with just two shots on goal he netted twice; if he can stay fit and receives the sort of quality service provided on Friday, he will be nigh unplayable at times.

2. Shinji Okazaki Proves His Worth

There has never been any doubt over Okazaki’s commitment to the cause, his work rate is consistently relentless and City fans love him for it. However, his contribution in other areas can sometimes be brought into question – not on this occasion. The Japanese international was a menace both on and off the ball, harassing defenders and demonstrating a wonderful understanding with Vardy, in my opinion, he has done enough to warrant starting against Brighton.

3. Defensive Woes Still Present

After boasting one of the league’s most stoic defences in 2015-16, City’s record last season was decidedly mixed, with some fairly basic errors committed during many of their games. Rather strangely City managed to showcase both sides of their ability against Arsenal, looking remarkably solid for large portions of the game just to be undone by a series of brain fades. First up: Simpson & Morgan combine to lose a £48m rated lone striker in Alexandre Lacazette. Then a poorly executed offside trap leaves Welbeck with a tap in before Ramsey was left completely unmarked to equalise late on. Arsenal have a wealth of attacking talent, but it is disappointing to concede in such a manner, especially when it undoes some excellent work in the final third.

4. The Return Of Matty James

James had endured a torrid 825 days since his last start for City’s senior side, and he will be delighted with his individual performance. Before the knee injury that would rule him out for over two years, James was the energetic half of City’s midfield, providing dynamism and tenacity in partnership with the more cultured Esteban Cambiasso. On this showing, it seems that the injury has not proved to be the damaging setback many would expect, as James put in an impressive performance in the centre. Despite being outnumbered, the four men in midfield worked exceptionally hard and James epitomised this; with Drinkwater and Iborra returning from injuries in the next couple of weeks, he offers stern competition for the midfield places.

5. Shakespeare’s Rights And Wrongs

You have to give Shakespeare credit for Leicester’s overall performance on Friday, which was more positive than the result implies. When Leicester were given the opportunity to counter they were direct, fast and absolutely ruthless; Vardy’s first a perfect example of this. His first substitution was spot on, Daniel Amartey replaced Okazaki to create a five-man midfield and for ten minutes this certainly dampened Arsenal’s attacks. However, when James tired (understandably so) Shakespeare opted to give Iheanacho his debut, reverting us back to 4-4-2. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but this opened the floodgates and left the back four much too exposed, and Arsenal created 4 top quality chances. I’m sure Shakespeare had his reasons, but there were more defensive minded players in King or Chilwell on the bench and this decision arguably lost us the game.

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