Rodgers and Leicester struggling, ineffective in too many ways

Sep 20, 2022

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The clamor throughout the next 90 minutes conveyed the tale of Leicester’s 6-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on a day that was remarkable for the moment of quiet before the game.

After Youri Tielemans’ retaken penalty gave Leicester the lead early on, the home crowd chanted, “How terrible must you be, we’re winning away.”

Those same fans strangely rejoiced when Leicester’s defense headed away a Tottenham corner, their team finally able to effectively defend a set piece.

Last but not least, Brendan Rodgers was the target of chants from Tottenham fans who said he would be fired the next morning.

That needs to be taken into account right now, if not in the morning than at some point in the upcoming two weeks. If Leicester’s board is considering a change, this international break will be useful. Rodgers will be familiar with the circumstance because he was fired from his position at Liverpool in 2015 at the beginning of an international break. He remarked, a little menacingly, “It’s probably come at a good time to reset everything.”

The final score of 6-2 was unfair to Leicester since Son Heung-min scored two outstanding goals before adding his third goal in the dying seconds to amplify the magnitude of the setback. Yet, despite Leicester taking the lead and leading 2-2 at the half, 6-2 seemed inevitable from the start.

Set pieces, a weakness for Leicester all of last season, were the source of their opening two goals. They nearly let up a third goal from a set piece when Wilfred Ndidi turned into his own goal, but the referee ultimately decided Danny Ward had been fouled after much deliberation.

Ndidi, who was one of the Premier League’s top defensive midfielders a few years ago, looked terrible in this match. He was expected to cover too much ground by a disorganized team, but it does not explain how easily Rodrigo Bentancur got him in possession for the third goal. To be fair, it was not quite as bad as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg utterly outrunning Boubakary Soumare for Son’s hat-trick goal.

Rodgers’ issue with Leicester is not just that they are bad, although they are, but rather that they are bad overall. They routinely have poor defensive positioning. They are unable to stop set pieces. There is not a clear attack pattern.

Their bright spots are the result of individual brilliance. As with his goal against Southampton, James Maddison scored a fantastic goal here, and his cross to Patson Daka was also extremely risky. However, Maddison seems to be an exceptional No. 10 in a terrible team, similar to Georgi Kinkladze or Juninho.

Leicester has scored eight goals in seven games this season, but in addition to two solo goals from James Maddison, there was a long-range strike from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall against Brentford, a hilarious own goal thanks to Arsenal, and this retaken penalty. Leicester aren’t really creating opportunities, to put it another way. In terms of attacking efficiency, their expected goals (xG) statistic is the second-worst in the league, after only Bournemouth. Their anticipated goals against (xGA) figure isn’t as bad as their simple goals against (GA) figure, though that can’t be viewed as much of a plus since Ward has occasionally looked helpless and has given up goals he shouldn’t have, which isn’t a huge plus.

This season, Rodgers’ inability to adequately utilize his bench has been a recurring problem. On the first day of play against Brentford, they appeared secure in their 2-0 lead. Thomas Frank then altered his appearance and altered the game. Rodgers was unable to answer, and the score was 2-2. That created the mood. No coach has used fewer substitutions per game than Rodgers this year, so it was appropriate that Antonio Conte replaced Yves Bissouma at Tottenham and changed from a 3-4-3 formation to a 3-5-2, with Bissouma immediately starting the play that resulted in Spurs’ fourth goal. Of course, Son, a replacement, scored all three of Spurs’ last goals.

In general, Rodgers is an excellent manager, and even if he leaves Leicester, it should be acknowledged that he performed admirably at Swansea, Liverpool, Celtic, and Leicester. Very few managers can mention that record.

Leicester has a strong team under manager Brendan Rodgers, and both will do just fine without the other. However, as a team, things simply aren’t clicking, and Rodgers appears to be okay with that. “The owners will do what they need to do,” he remarked, which almost felt like he was encouraging them.

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