Leicester City vs West Ham Tactical Preview 04/10/20

Good artists borrow; great artists steal

At times last season, it seemed like Leicester tried to synthesise the best bits of both Liverpool (Pereira/Chilwell as the primary attacking outlets down both flanks) and Man City (Tielemans/Maddison as Silva/KDB style “free 8s”; Ndidi doing the Fernandinho job of mopping up behind to kill counters; a ‘keeper with good long distribution; veteran poacher-type upfront who contributes little in possession). For the most part, it worked out pretty well — if you’re going to copy, copy from the best.

Mendy wears the number 24 shirt
The pass that Tielemans (8) plays into Castagne for the Burnley OG is sublime

Totally un-sinister football

Prior to Christian Fuchs coming on for the last 10 mins against City last Sunday, Leicester had played almost 3 full Premier League games without fielding a naturally left-footed player.

Barnestorming runs from the left

Related to that bizarre absence of left-footers is Harvey Barnes. Barnes (84 % of passes with his right) plays on the left wing and almost always cuts inside, like a mirrored version of Arjen Robben. Much like Robben, it’s one thing knowing it’s coming and another stopping it:

Barnes (15) barely ever touches the ball with his left foot, even to control it
Justin’s (2) acceleration is a major weapon on the counter
Praet (26) doesn’t create much himself but knits Leicester’s attacks together with simple passes to keep the team moving

Justin at the back stick

For all his attacking merits, the easiest way for us to get at Leicester is through James Justin. Burnley bullied him and scored their two goals by isolating him at the far post:

Saka gets pinned and then has no way of getting off the ground to contest a header

Set Pieces

Leicester had the joint-best defensive record last season from set pieces, conceding only 6 times in 38 Premier League games and they were pretty good on the xGA front in those situations too:

Conclusion

I’ve not even mentioned premium goal goblin Jamie Vardy yet. He’s scored 5 goals in 3 games so far, 4 of which have been penalties and he seems to have a genuine knack for winning them. Vardy is basically designed to cause Ogbonna problems — he’s clumsy at the best of times, let alone when he’s got someone buzzing around him who is just waiting to buy contact. It wouldn’t be a shock if he gave away a penalty here.

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Cast Iron Tactics

Cast Iron Tactics

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I write long, boring, and increasingly deranged articles about football tactics and West Ham @CastIronTactics on Twitter