Leicester City finished their pre-season preparations this Saturday, and surely the team being played in the season opener v. West Bromwich Albion will be expected to look a bit different, with all interinationals back in contention.Embed from Getty Images
It’s time to take a good look at what has happened during pre-season and how we do see all of this going to appear when a new season is up and running. This was a short and hasty period before the campaign starts again, but we must probably look at the team in a longer perspective and judge everything from the re-start of last season.
During pre-season we haven’t really seen a clear plan, just players thrown into action in a bit of a messy atmosphere, and again seeing the manager juggling with systems and players, and not really showing any signs of improvement. The pattern is worrying and we will start wondering what is going on.Embed from Getty Images
Looking at the squad, you have a group that is a year older, and you have Timothy Castagne replacing Ben Chilwell so the numbers are equaled, but the Belgian international is a player that we have said earlier operates mostly to the right either in a back four or further up the field in a wide flank role when Atalanta played with a three men defense.
You believe that systems and roles, movement and understanding of a team would be what you train on every day and also to have a first eleven as settled as possible, would be the preferred solution for your way forward, and with the end of last season in mind, we would like to see Brendan Rodgers showing some sort of clear idea on how to play and move.
During a pre-season you can of course have a plan to just throw all bodies into a team and just play for fun, but when you are changing the backline from three to four and starts juggling players and systems you are walking a thin line of getting into problems and trouble.
If you play a superior team in quality and talent, what can see you win, is the way you field your team, how you can use the system to your advantage and really be able to upset the opponent with key movements and being able to get key players into those vital areas that can see them scoring goals.Embed from Getty Images
We did see that last season when movement between Ayoze Perez, Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy was clinical and fantastic, but why Brendan Rodgers changed this master is a riddle and everything became a mess. Kelechi Iheanacho, Marc Albrighton and Damarai Gray are all players that can be slotted in when needed, but clearly not as equipped for those roles as the three others, so please Brendan Rodgers don’t dwell on that, just look at the game away to Southampton and see how this is the way forward.
Kasper Schmeichel had a few slip ups and he clearly made horror mistakes that you should not see from such an experienced player and if he continues to do errors like those he did against Bournemouth and Manchester United, he must be replaced, but for now he is a clear and certain first choice also going into next season.Embed from Getty Images
The back four was last season as settled as you would get it, and fantastic judgement by Brendan Rodgers that stood by Caglar Soyuncu and made him secure and settled as a key player alongside Jonny Evans who are among the best experienced defenders in the Premier League. Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell were also cemented in the first team as long as they were fit to play.
You also have James Justin and now with Timothy Castagne available it shouldn’t be a problem to field a good defense, though the departure of Ben Chilwell will be there to take to notice. No other left footed full back has that ability to go forward with that type of pace as we have seen, and he will be heavily missed if not some other players just shows that same type of courage.
Filip Benkovic is not a bad player and will be close to making his breakthrough this season, and could line-up alongside Caglar Soyuncu in the season opener away to West Bromwich Albion. Jonny Evans will not be available, Wes Morgen is also probably out and Josh Knight is not yet a player that can handle Premier League action, it could see a surprise inclusion again for Daniel Amartey who is back at his best, but hopefully it will not be needed to play Wilfred Ndidi as a central defender as he did against Blackburn Rovers, he is of course one to consider, but would rather play him in midfield as he is the best there is in his position.Embed from Getty Images
James Maddison looks uncertain as well and without any games in pre-season it might be a bit early. Hamza Choudhury and Youri Tielemans looks as the obvious choices alongside Ndidi, but our admiration for Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall is there as well, he is clever and ready to step up. Nampalys Mendy and Dennis Praet are other players and also a young Sidnei Tavares can do a job, but it’s not a time to juggle again with Brendan Rodgers making messy mistakes in setting up his midfield in some of the games after the lock down. This is the most vital area and you need to have some sort of idea who to play and with a number of options it’s clearly difficult to decide, but the tinkering must stop and you need to have some sort of hierarchy to work from.
To depend heavily on Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall at this point of time is not wise as the young and promising player should be given a number of chances coming in from the bench and with a soft approach given a chance as his talent is used in the best way possible.
We just hope “for fox sake” that Brendan Rodgers goes back to the 4-3-3, which has been his best system and the winning formula, scrap totally any idea of playing with three in the back, which is a system that makes players work totally different and can be teared apart with clever attacking set up’s by the opponent, so Brendan stop flirting with your three and certainly if you go for it, don’t believe that you can change back to four and keep your momentum, then you are either stupid or have too much confidence, what you will see is a team losing points week in and week out.Embed from Getty Images
To win football games you need to have more numbers around the ball than the opposition, making a clever dribble and pass the opponent or else you have to play the ball backwards and that will never see you win, and as we have seen in the past a lot of the possession have been used to play the ball either sideways or backwards.
What we would like to see is a team that makes the switch from defending to attacking faster than last season and goes forward with five to six players, without Chilwell and Pereira that movement will be very difficult, but we hope that it will be possible or else that will not give Jamie Vardy much to work with, and then it’s vital to play Harvey Barnes who have great pace and also the skill to find Vardy with a good assist.
So to sum it up, Leicester City looks weakened going into the season, with especially key players such as James Maddison, Jonny Evans and Ricardo Pereira probably not available and back to full fitness before a few more games are played.
So it’s first of all hopefully worked hard on a settled system, trying to get all defensive movement correct as new and unproven players will be slotted into the different areas were those key players have their places.
We would like to see the team fielded in a 4-3-3 against West Bromwich Albion, and of course you can go for the idea of playing with in form unproven players, but that would not be wise as experience should be vital and also honour work rate as you consider playing your team being solid from the back.
TCF would like to see the following team on Saturday,
- GK, Kasper Schmeichel
- RB, Timothy Castagne
- LB, James Justin
- CD, Filip Benkovic
- CD, Caglar Suyuncu
- M, Wilfred Ndidi
- M, Hamza Choudhury
- M, Youri Tielemans
- F, Harvey Barnes
- F, Jamie Vardy
- F, Ayoze Perez
But TCF is afraid that we will see Brendan Rodgers lining up in 3-4-3, or even 3-5-2 and upset all movement and balance, and push Castagne up in the midfield area, and then drop Harvey Barnes and Ayoze Perez from the starting eleven using Marc Albrighton as a flank, he is not a player to use when you just have three in the back and play 3-4-3, he needs to be among the three in front, but to play with four midfielders in this system, you will be punished and you need to be superior and have running legs on the flanks with both stamina and pace.
The situation at the this time will not be solved with new signings as long as the squad is so full of players that are just seen as fringe, and it’s still a bit of messy with almost 35 men to Brendan Rodgers disposal.