Newcastle may not be the most exotic of destinations, but it is exceptionally restful for Leicester City. Not for the first time, the players of Brendan Rodgers left Tyneside with the renewed, positive glow usually associated with teams just back in the sun from their winter break. Even Andy Carroll’s first goal in a Newcastle shirt since joining his home club 18 months ago could not take the shine of a win that lifted Leicester to third in the Premier League, a point behind Liverpool and Manchester United. Visitors have now won their last five league games at St James’ Park with goals from James Maddison and Youri Tielemans. It would be little consolation to Steve Bruce, considering his atrocious record against Leicester, that Rodgers’ eleven are undoubtedly at their most dangerous away from home in 2020-21, winning seven of their eight away games this season. If that is a common thread, in the first half another soon became apparent: Newcastle’s knack for gifting the ball to Leicester. In particular, Wilfred Ndidi took great pride in intercepting the early moves of the home side. The power of Ndidi in defensive midfield provided the visitors with a perfect atmosphere for creatively letting Maddison run wild. One of his early passes allowed Jamie Vardy, with his first touch of the ball, to slip in behind Bruce’s back line and get around Karl Darlow before his second saw him slot the ball from an acute angle into the empty net. Fortunately, a raised flag for Newcastle indicated that Vardy was only offside, but the effort underscored the magnitude of the danger faced by Federico Fernández and his defensive colleagues.
At first, it seemed as if Bruce’s players would pay the price for constantly failing to stop Maddison and his magnificently fancy footwork, but then, in less diplomatic words, Matt Ritchie told them that it’s the hard-turn men’s when the going gets rough, and Newcastle simply got stronger. Significant touches were provided by DeAndre Yedlin, Fernández and Ciaran Clark, Vardy was less and less in possession, and a tactical stalemate ensued – frustrating Leicester was one thing, disrupting Rodgers’ side quite another.
In general, if Darlow was remarkably well covered, so was Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, as Bruce’s players squandered their attacking opportunities by playing high, optimistic passes forward, leaving the ball for far too long to drift aimlessly through the air. The good news for the home team’s coach was that his new strategy of weaning Newcastle off their low block brand and urging them to press further up the pitch thwarted the game plan of Rodgers. Half-time reports from Premier League fans. The damage reduction plan was fairly effective, but Maddison is an expert in picking all sorts of tactical locks, and it showed when Leicester countered quickly in the 55th minute. Part 2: Liverpool v WolvesRead more
Leicester countered in the 55th minute. Bruce’s midfield was caught off guard when Harvey Barnes brought the ball forward with pace and Barnes was able to lay off for Vardy, who nutmegged Fernández on the left before feeding Maddison with a perfectly weighted pass. Vardy reminded everyone that he not only scored goals, he made them himself, and Maddison blasted the ball high into the back of the net, ruining Bruce’s tactical strategy at the same time. The pain intensified as Marc Albrighton intercepted the run of Tielemans with another perfectly timed cross and at the first attempt, the Belgian flicked the ball into the corner. Carroll, who had just come off the bench, restored the lead with another fabulous volley as Bruce’s “Angel of the North” responded immediately when Ritchie’s free kick was headed into his direction.
Carroll would have to display more of the same if Newcastle doesn’t want to get entangled in the relegation fight.