Good morning ++++ers,
And a fine one it is.
If last Sunday morning’s blank screen presented me with something akin to rolling large rock up a steep hill yesterday’s events in Leicester offer not even a vaguely similar challenge. I have had to search deep in my superlative drawer however to do the game justice.
An exceptionally enjoyable game of football played by two sides who set out to play fast and inventive football and maintained that approach to the 93rd minute. They treated each other with respect, no diving, hard challenges but no malice, and who gave referee Pawson very little to whistle about. The final score could have been 7-12. Even at 1-4 the home side were hurling themselves at Cech’s goal as if their lives depended on it. 22 shots for us from inside the box, 4 from outside – 92% on target – ridiculous !
Our lot ?
The headlines go to the goal scorers and to Alexis’ return to net stretching proficiency. If the Chilean has not been back to 100% efficiency then the Foxes offered him the stage to show what he does best. An extra half yard of space or split second allowed him to shine. His second and third goals were super strikes. I say the second was the standout, made by the perfect chip from Ozil, but Sanchez’s leap above the tall defender was masterful.
Theo made further progress, more confident, a little sharper and proactive in his movement than where six weeks ago he was not there. His craft is coming, incrementally, a game and a goal at a time. Next Sunday will be an important test to see if he can spring what is, surprisingly, quite an efficient ManYoo defence.
The relatively unsung heroes of the afternoon I would pick three; Cech and Kosc for withstanding an opening 15 minute battering with just a one goal deficit. And third Hector Bellerin who I thought again had outstanding game. Young Hector was pressed hard by Danny Drinkwater in the opening but gradually tamed the brute. His flank play going forward was brilliant yesterday. That young man is going to be HUGE.
That Jamie Vardy did not earn the game’s second hat trick is a bit of a mystery. The goal frame was badly bruised. He is about as far from the “world class” goal scorer model as I can imagine. His touch is a bit scruffy, his movement and running is untidy, he is all ‘rough edges’ including his haircut, but what he has got he uses to the nth degree. Playing non league until he was 25 and joined Leicester so his chance in the top flight came late on. I hope that Leicester are able to hold on to him as anyone who scores goals these days is prone to be lured for big money. Stay where you are son. They love you.
Robert Hoof and Wes Morgan deserve an honourable mention in despatches. I doubted either would last on a hot afternoon and chasing Sanchez and Theo up and down. At the end I suspect both were on their proverbial knees but they kept throwing themselves about.
One mild shadow on an otherwise perfect afternoon was the injury to Flamini – after weeks of waiting quietly he steps up to his triumph at the Lane, followed by a second chance to perform against a side who I think would suit Matty’s style. Then his hamstring pops 20 minutes in. How unlucky is that ?
Onward to Olympiakos on Tuesday evening and a little more pressure for a good result than is ideal. And unlike yesterday Tuesday is about the result, not the quality.
Enjoy your Day of Rest.
* And thank you to Claudio Ranieri for the Italian term for yesterday’s contribution from Alexis