Five Things We Learned from Leicester City’s Win Over Brighton

Five Things We Learned from Leicester City’s Win Over Brighton
Aug 21, 2017

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Leicester City got their campaign started in earnest with a solid, if unspectacular, win over Brighton which gives them their first points on the board. As always, we have a look at the key talking points from the opening home match and how the performance bodes moving forwards.

Harry Maguire’s Already Providing The Goods

It felt slightly wrong to praise the performance of a defender in a game in which your team concede four goals, but Maguire was excellent against Arsenal – commanding, composed and classy. Against Brighton, these traits were very much evident once again as the former Hull City man dealt with everything thrown at him with consummate ease. With his huge, hulking frame and a face like a building, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Maguire’s style would be no-nonsense, but he possesses genuine ability on the ball, driving into midfield and even pinging some delicious 50-yard cross field passes. Whilst it may be too early to be discussing England call-ups, there is no doubt that in their £12m man Leicester have a player with a huge potential.

Shinji Okazaki Proves His Worth

Okazaki’s goal record has not exactly been standout during his time at the Foxes; in his 73 appearances prior to this season he notched 9 goals and this lack of prolificacy was one of the criticisms leveled at the Japanese international and is probably why Leicester have spent such a huge sum of money to try to replace him. However, Okazaki has now scored back to back goals for the first time in his City career and his all-round play has been excellent; he looks sharp both on and off the ball and even seems to be spending less time on the floor. With £25m Iheanacho expected to return to the squad imminently, can Okazaki really be dropped? I would suggest not.

The James-Ndidi Axis Is Encouraging

When our mini injury crisis abates, Leicester will have a veritable plethora of midfield options with both Vincente Iborra and (hopefully) Danny Drinkwater coming back into the squad, but, based upon early performances they may well struggle to get back into the side. The partnership that Matty James is forging with Wilfred Ndidi looks very promising, showcasing a classic “ball winner-distributor” balance. For example, against Brighton Ndidi won the ball back 3 times, won 5 headers and had a pass success rate of 67%; James did not recover the ball but maintained a pass success rate of 87% with 1 key pass whilst covering a huge amount of ground. Our depth in this position suddenly looks a whole lot better.

Riyad Mahrez Deserves Huge Credit

There is no secret about Riyad Mahrez’s intentions, he quite clearly feels he can play at a higher level and wants the opportunity to do so, fair enough, we have seen this a hundred times in the Premier League. However, where Mahrez differs is his attitude in the interim. Some other big-name players who are after transfers away have not featured for their clubs, citing injuries or an unsettled mental state due to the transfer speculation. Mahrez, on the other hand, has displayed an exemplary attitude, giving his all in training and finally showing the sort of performances we all know he is capable of. Until a club comes in with a suitable offer Mahrez remains a Leicester player, and with his ability and attitude, this is no bad thing at all.

Brighton Could Struggle

In most of Leicester’s games their opposition dominate the passing statistics, and this was the case once again with a 45%-55% split in possession and City averaging 73% pass success compared to 83% by Brighton. However, in terms of cutting-edge, Brighton were severely outdone. Leicester mustered 14 shots compared to their 5 and from significantly better positions; the away team only managed an xG of 0.16 compared to the City’s 2.36 and whilst this is clearly early days, Brighton will need to adjust to the Premier League quickly or they face a long and arduous season.

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