Sunday, 9 January 2011

Leicester 2 - 2 City

  • Not the win that we wanted, not the defeat that we arguably deserved, but one of the best cup ties we've been involved in for years. Roberto Mancini treated his return to Leicester City as he does Europa League games, resting the mainstays of the team (Carlos Tévez excepted), and attempting a more expansive 4-2-4. It performed terribly, but we still went in ahead at half-time. It was that sort of game; a game of phases, phases demarcated by moments. A score draw feels fair enough, and with the squad we have we cannot complain about the replay.
  • It did not start well. Leicester went ahead after less than one minute, as Sol Bamba turned in a corner. I understand the need for rotation but today Mancini rested his two lieutenants, Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong, and we missed them both terribly. Without the aerial presence and leadership of Kompany we were vulnerable to crosses and set-pieces all afternoon, and were taught the hard way with that early goal. Unfortunately, there was no noticeable improvement all afternoon. Our two-man midfield was Patrick Vieira and James Milner, but they were out-numbered and out-moved. Without the bite and intelligence of Nigel de Jong we were fighting a losing midfield battle.
  • But, we managed to keep the score at 1-0 and gradually grow into the game. James Milner's thrusting dynamism was influential (with Jô and Wright-Phillips in the team someone had to do something), and he equalised with an impressive run and shot from deep. As happens in the best cup games, momentum instantly switched sides, with no real interest in desert or what had gone before. We started to build attacks - nothing fancy, just balls into the channels and help from the full-backs. There was a goal on its way, if only it could be delivered before the break. Fortunately, Tévez flicked in Milner's cross just before the break and we went in, somehow, at 2-1.
  • Anyone who has watched City this year knows we're a different team when ahead, so Mancini naturally tried to replicate our recent away wins: Nigel de Jong was brought on for SWP and we went to a more conventional 4-2-3-1. Possession football, with de Jong at the hub, is how we turn leads into wins and so it made perfect sense. For 19 minutes it worked perfectly, we looked as serene as a team can do on a poor pitch in a cold January cup-tie. But, City fans angered the football gods by 'Olé-ing' on 63 minutes and Leicester soon equalised; King bundling in after Joe Hart dropped a cross.
  • As a team set up to hold a lead, rather than to fashion one, we were limited from this point on, and Leicester were once again the better team. They had most of the play and the chances. De Jong went through once - it would have beesuspectin a perfect time to score his first for City - but could only shoot at the goalkeeper. I imagine Mancini was happier at the final whistle, because of how well Leicester finished, and that he now knows that without de Jong and Kompany, and with Jô, serious FA Cup progress might be beyond us.

2 comments:

Withingtonian said...

What is it with Macini and Jo? The latter was ineffectual as usual and I fear he will be at City for a while yet. I'd be far happier to see one of the youth/EDS forwards given a run out in games such as this. Surely they couldn't do any worse.

richard said...

Dzeko will replace Jo, simple as that. Hopefully Jo will go back to Everton forever.