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Leicester City 2 Watford 1 (07/11/2015) 08/11/2015

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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1- We’d been in the pub since midday.  Chewing the cud, watching the place fill up, enjoying an eighties Indie-ish playlist that hummed along gently enough for This Corrosion not to be too annoying when it made a second appearance and looking forward to the afternoon’s game.  A sizable, noisy delegation from second tier German side VfL Bochum were in evidence;  the relationship with Leicester, we are advised by one representative on the way to the ground, is based on both sides playing in blue and never winning anything.  The morning’s swirling drizzle  gave way to blue skies and sunshine twinkles on the dampness.  It’s a splendid thing to be able to enjoy a match like this…  the Stoke and West Ham results affording us a degree of breathing space.  No pressure.  It’s rare in our top flight experience, the ability to anticipate a game with neither a sense of dread or of the suspicion that this is a show that we’re not really part of.  What this feels is normal, another trip to a frequent adversary with the accompanying “away from home you grab what you can grab” feel.  It’s splendid.

 

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2- It’s not normal of course.  It’s far from normal.  Both sides have come an awfully long way in a short space of time and the fixture suddenly constitutes one of the top games of the day in terms of league position with the two clubs exceeding expectations.  The game starts with plenty of respect afforded on every quarter… Leicester are the free-scoring rabble-rousers on a fine run of form, we have proven ourselves capable of giving anyone a game, capable of reading and preparing for whatever the division has thrown at us.  So the first twenty minutes, with the low sun sitting defiantly above the curve of the stands and shovelling straight into the away end, is a sparring match.  A feeling-each-other-out exercise, both sides confident in their own way but only prepared to risk so much.  Leicester’s aggression in closing down our possession a long way up the pitch briefly made Miguel Britos and Craig Cathcart uncomfortable but we aren’t bullied onto the back foot.  Indeed, we have the best chance of the half… Odion Ighalo’s shot is low to Schmeichel’s left and inside the post and so clearly in that we’re all celebrating heartily by the time it rebounds back off the inside of the post.  There’s a good chance on the rebound too, apparently, demanding a fine stop from the keeper but in common with much of the away end I’m still trying to work out why we’re not ahead and only learn of Almen Abdi’s scooped volley on the train home.

3- The game turned on Gomes’ howler, quite obviously, but there was stuff that lead to that.  With the game very much all square at half time, Claudio Ranieri made a bold substitution in bringing on an extra attacker for a midfielder and the Foxes rattled at us at the start of the second half.  If Gomes’ mistake hadn’t happened perhaps the game would have panned out completely differently… maybe we’d have caught them on the break, maybe we’d have kept them at bay and things would have settled down again.  As it was, Ranieri gets to claim credit for executing a change in shape that Quique maybe didn’t anticipate…. history is written by the victors.  As for Gomes… what’s perhaps more alarming than the mistake itself was the penalty incident that followed, an excitable and unnecessary challenge on the relentless Vardy.  It’s beyond any dispute that the Brazilian has been a tremendous asset for the Hornets since his arrival and has earned us plenty of points, but his Tottenham career suggests a brittle confidence  in the face of mistakes.  Gomes has been magnificent, nobody else will have a problem with writing today off as just one of those things.  His haunted look later on MotD left a concern that he won’t leave it behind as easily.

4- East Midlands supporters seem to have this ongoing delusion that their clubs are something other than fodder.  Don’t get me wrong, Leicester’s one of my favourite away trips despite our modest record here…  but “Two-nil on your big day out” was slightly divorced from reality.  Leicester are third in the league on merit, but we’ve been to your a hundred times before chaps, you’re not Manchester United yet.  That said, the “Did you cry when Deeney scored?” chant was old by the end of Leicester’s first return to the Vic two years ago, and didn’t really need another airing here either… and one suspects that Leicester is unusual in these exalted heights in generating noise from all four corners of the ground against “the likes of Watford”, so any criticism needs moderation.  Quique made a couple of changes to shift things around;  Etienne Capoue didn’t reach the heights of the previous weekend’s masterclass (it’s to be hoped that his monstrous performances being peppered by vastly less effective ones isn’t an ongoing theme) and was replaced by Juan Carlos Paredes.  You’d have got long odds on Paredes being preferred as a midfield “change it up” option above Adlène Guedioura, say, at the start of the season, but his wholehearted if slightly ragged physicality did shake things up on the right.  Paredes is less careful with possession than is typical of this team, more direct, rougher edges… but that’s no bad thing when you’re trying to change the shape of things.  Leicester had only briefly been dominant but were now very much in the box seat… Paredes’ combination of muscle and direct running is the last thing a tiring opponent wants to have to cope with in the last quarter of a game, and won us a much-needed foothold by drawing a penalty from the flat-footed Kante.  Troy lined the kick up and it briefly occurred to more or less everyone in the away end that him missing this would seal the afternoon.  Instead he executed the calmest of finishes and afforded the scoreline a greater degree of respectability.

5- We never really threatened to grab the equaliser,  Leicester managing the closing quarter hour pretty effectively.  Alessandro Diamanti, looking more like a hair stylist than a footballer, came off the bench for a cameo… elegant flicks and spins and twiddles but off the pace, and too far from City’s penalty area to be effective. There’s an ongoing issue here which Quique has alluded to a few times… how do you get these guys game time with so few competitive games such that they can make an impact when needed?  It’s not just showing you can do it, it’s being sharp enough to try…  the introduction of Britos a couple of weeks ago was a bold one that has increased competition, there are other areas of the team that might benefit from having someone demonstrably ready to step in if needed.

So… Leicester played the game out, and we can claim some comfort from the respect we were offered in that regard; a goal up against a newly promoted side, Leicester opted to kill the game rather than chase another goal.  They might just about have deserved the win, but it was never a safe thing.  The final whistle went, Leicester looked a little relieved whilst the Hornets’ players and supporters’ attention were on their goalkeeper who acknowledged his ovation from the stands.  No disgrace this one, and another free punch in our next game in a fortnight.  Thereafter our fixture list looks fascinating… three pressure games that we’ll need to harvest points from before an intimidating set of opponents over Christmas.  And Chelsea.

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Comments»

1. Roger Smith - 08/11/2015

60/40 possession, but you don’t win games if you don’t convert your chances. If Diamanti was only brought on because he needed game time, that was clearly a wrong decision; you do that when you’re 3-0 up, not 2-1 down. And the error was compounded by not using our third sub, when the need was for all-out effort.

Matt Rowson - 08/11/2015

The point I was trying to make was that given that Diamanti (and others) aren’t getting any game time it’s hardly surprising that they come on and look off the pace.

2. HB84 - 08/11/2015

Leicester remains for a great day out – but I have yet to see us win … !
But the benefit of yesterday was that I just felt that if Leicester are now a strong team outside the big 4 or 5 then we showed again that were more than competitive. We really will be ok this season.
5 points from the next 4 games and we will be ok.

But one comment . Just what is the point of Diamantri. I just don’t get it. He doesn’t have enough energy to make a difference

Matt Rowson - 08/11/2015

West Ham messageboard reflection when we signed him: left foot of Liam Brady. Physique of Johnny Vegas.

Haven’t seen much of him tbh… but as above, if he’s not getting game time it’s a bit of an ask for him to get up to speed.

3. NickB - 08/11/2015

The peerless ‘This Corrosion’ to be played quietly?? How could you, Matt?

4. Harefield Hornet - 09/11/2015

This was my first visit to the KPS since I was locked out of ( I think?) their first match there after being mis-advised that X number of tickets for the away fans would still be availabe on the day!

Good social with the home fans before the game, Great Stadium and great atmosphere. I too thought we dominated the first half but we rarely troubled their keeper after the break, which in my opinion probably had as much bearing on the result as the 2 Gomes mistakes. Beaten but not disgraced – and my daughter became an expert at balancing on the seat – until Deeney scored at least! – Gutted it’s 2 weeks until our next fix!

5. Peter Marron - 09/11/2015

At least Gomes was brave enough to be interviewed on MoTD, I’m sure he could have hidden away if he’d wanted

Matt Rowson - 09/11/2015

True enough


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