Leicester City missed out on the chance to assert themselves at the top of the Barclays Premier League as they were held to a 1-1 draw by a spirited Aston Villa. Here are 5 talking points from the game:
1. Strikers willing to run on to loose balls
It has been a key feature of Leicester City’s play this season and is one of the reasons they’ve scored so many goals this year. Vardy and Mahrez have always made themselves available and aware to the possibility of a rebound. Against Villa however, it was Japanese workhorse Shinji Okazaki who made a brilliant effort to get onto the end of the rebound after Jamie Vardy’s spectacular lob was palmed away. When Vardy made contact with the ball, Okazaki was around 10 yards behind nearest defender Lescott, Next thing you know, Okazaki has gone past Lescott and scored.
2. Take Mahrez off penalty duties
Riyad Mahrez has been sensational for Leicester City this season. His penalties though, haven’t. He missed one last week against Bournemouth and his penalty here was woeful. No power, no elevation, it seemed so half hearted. Louis van Gaal has a good rotation system at Manchester United when it comes to penalties. Miss one, you fall down the list of penalty takers. While Ranieri doesn’t necessarily have to follow the same system, it would be more appropriate to hand over spot kick duties to someone like Jamie Vardy for now.
3. Villa throw too many bodies forward
Aston Villa did a good job of throwing men forward against Leicester. The full backs were a constant threat, putting crosses into the box and supporting the wide men as much as possible. The problem was, due to the full backs constantly bombarding forward, they left themselves open at the back which gave Leicester lots of space to attack. They got away with it as Leicester failed to take advantage of the situation, but such errors will prove costly against teams that like to counter attack.
4. Leicester’s Organization
Leicester City were brilliantly compact. They gave Aston Villa absolutely no space at all. They made sure all their players tracked back when off the ball. Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez did their defensive duties brilliantly while Danny Drinkwater and Okazaki clogged whatever space Aston Villa tried to find. Aston Villa just couldn’t find a way through and the equalizer wouldn’t have gone in, had it not been for Wes Morgan’s unfortunate deflection that left Kasper Schmeichel stranded.
5. Villa passed well, but had no real direction
Aston Villa played some terrific football in the second half. Leicester were struggling to get the ball off them. What was missing? A sense of real purpose and intent. They had absolutely no idea what to do, switching the ball from side to side searching for a way through. Bacuna and Gana kept bombing forward but they kept putting useless balls into the box hoping someone would get on the end of one of them and it never bothered Leicester one bit.