Leicester City

Leicester win over Newcastle was vital with tough January fixtures to come

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Tielemans grabbed what turned out to the winner in the second half
Tielemans grabbed what turned out to the winner in the second half / Michael Regan/Getty Images
facebooktwitterreddit

It was never going to be a classic - Newcastle's involvement ended any notion of that - but Leicester's trip to St James' Park on Sunday was an important one.

It represented the Foxes' best chance of securing three points for some time. Over the next month their fixture list makes for grim reading. After taking on a resurgent Stoke City in the FA Cup, Leicester face Southampton, Chelsea and Everton, before finally ending a tough January with a trip to Elland Road to face Leeds.

At least the omens going into the Newcastle game couldn't have been much better. The Foxes had brought three points home during each of their last four trips to the Magpies, and their away record this season is the best in the Premier League.

Leicester knew the importance of getting a win over Newcastle
Leicester knew the importance of getting a win over Newcastle / Stu Forster/Getty Images

Developments this season also suggested that Leicester had no reason to fear Newcastle's infamous low block. Once their Achilles' heel, wins over Burnley and Sheffield United, as well as their near spotless record in the Europa League, suggests that the Foxes are slowly becoming more comfortable grinding out wins against teams who like to defend deep.

Despite all these reasons to be optimistic, Leicester's first-half display was lacking invention and guile. After James Maddison fired a shot wide in the opening exchanges, Leicester ample possession bore few chances.

Jamie Vardy fired a few warning shots, putting the ball in the back of the net at one stage, but even he was struggling, mistiming his runs and being flagged offside twice. Maddison's three corners also led to nothing, extending his side's remarkable record of not scoring from a single set play this season.

As the first half ended, despite recording 60% possession, Leicester looked some way off breaking Newcastle down.

At the break, the Foxes seemed to receive a much needed shot in the arm. Whether it was due to one of Vardy's devilish, alcopop-based creations being passed around the dressing room, or whether the player were simply reminded of their tricky forthcoming fixture list, Rodgers' charges were much improved after the break.

Creating more overloads in wide areas than they had in the first half and also moving the ball positively in midfield, it took just 10 minutes for them to get their reward. The move began with Harvey Barnes driving the ball forward ferociously in transition. He eventually offloaded to Vardy who cut into box skilfully, before laying the ball back to the advancing Maddison. He then produced a powerful strike, which was also accurate enough to just about warrant his bullseye celebration.

Leicester continued to press home their advantage in the second half, doubling their lead twenty minutes from time. The second goal was also converted mere seconds after a Newcastle turnover, again demonstrating the Foxes' world class counter attacking ability.

This time, Youri Tielemans was at the centre of things, completing the tackle that started the move and then finishing it off in scintillating fashion. Meeting Marc Albrighton's cutback without breaking stride, Tielemans fired a curling strike past Karl Darlow.

Andy Carroll's late goal - again scored from a set piece, which is fast becoming a worrying trend for Leicester - made for a nervy final few minutes, but the 17-minute, second-half double salvo would ultimately be enough.

This result could be pivotal in Leicester's season. With such a tough run of games ahead, their top four credentials will be heavily scrutinised in January. Getting things off to a good start at St James' Park will make Rodgers a very happy man.


facebooktwitterreddit