The team line up looked more balanced and cohesive from the outset, both on paper and also in practice for large parts of the game. We looked to have a greater threat going forward and, although ultimately still well below where we need to be, seemed better than in previous games in defence.
We have allowed far poorer teams than Leicester a greater freedom of our penalty box. The best way I could describe it is that we were “in” that game for large parts of it. It felt the type of game that could have swung in our favour at certain points if we could have landed the first blow. There were some promising performances in Ozil, Bellerin and Aubameyeng.
Quite simply we lost another 3 points. We are now 9 points adrift of Leicester and Chelsea who don’t boast, in my opinion, as many good players as we do. Despite looking “in” the game for large parts of it there was always the feeling that we could capitulate at any moment if they landed the first blow…… That we would surrender control of the game and retreat deep for some Alamo style defending (and rely solely on quick counter-attacks) if the game started to turn against us……This all came to pass.
There were some players who didn’t look up to it. Sadly one of them was Guendouzi. He has been lauded as a future great but he also shows on many occasions that he is still very much a rough diamond. Right now he is not on the level of Maddison. If Douzi is to fulfil his potential, and not go the way of pretty much every promising youngster we have had over the last 6 years, then he needs the right environment and coaching.
Tactically Leicester seemed to have all the freedom in the world in the wide areas to play in a number of (unchallenged) dangerous balls across the face of our goal, particularly down our left. Conversely we seemed to have to work a lot harder to get the better of their full-backs, and always looked challenged in that area. Is this where you see the back 4 trump the back 3 or was it some other coaching issue?
More the “Ugly Truth” of it really, that we were once again bettered by a club that on paper (individual player for individual player) doesn’t have the same quality level as us. A club that doesn’t have the same pulling power or resources as us, but a club that looks significantly (not slightly) better than us. …not just in this individual game but across all games this season.
If some feel that Leicester are stronger on paper then a sobering thought should be that every one of their players would have been attainable for us. There are no £180m Kyllian Mbappes in there. Even in Maddison, their young crown jewel, you are looking at a player that is likely no more than we paid for Pepe.
Quite simply, Rogers looks to be a manager operating at a far superior level to Emery. I hear arguments about it is too early to judge Emery because he has only had a season and a half. Well Rogers has in a fraction of the time shown what you can do if you develop the team in the right direction with good coaching. Can we really say, at this stage, that we haven’t clicked because Emery’s development of the team is specifically time related and it hasn’t had long enough to come to fruition?
It is that more than anything that bothers me, that we don’t seem to be developing a style or identity as Rogers seems to be doing in far less time with Leicester. That said though, arguably we are developing a style and identity, but just the wrong one.
In the end Leicester just looked to have more confidence in their own ability. They looked slicker and had a greater belief in what they could do. That comes from progressive coaching and you can see that they are on an upward trajectory. Lampard seems to be doing similar at Chelsea.
Each Leicester player, and the team as a whole, are being improved. Our players individually are at best standing still, but in many cases regressing. The team as a whole certainly looks regressive in the last 6 months.
I am not really your man for individual ratings so you can use someone else’s. I will give a couple of alternative ratings as follows:
Team strength individually on paper:
Team strength collectively in real play (in this game alone):
Manager ratings this season:
Many prior games would have seen me mark our real play as a 5/10 so this is where I felt there was more about us in this game for large parts of it.
I would like to ask that we all play nicely today and have a healthy debate. There will be increasingly strong opinions at this juncture with our club, but we must respect each others views. More than that, the contrasting views and arguments are what makes this site the most interesting, so lets embrace that.
Finally I would like to put up an FGG comment from yesterday which very accurately reflects where I feel we are right now and have been in recent years:
He’s just not qualified for this job. Nothing personal, nothing about him as an individual, but the best he’s done in a job is EL football and we are striving for CL football in a very difficult league. Time to move on and fine someone who can do what we ask. The players look lost, the tactics are confusing, and the results are poor. We wasted years waiting for Wenger to re-find his old magic, let’s not make the same mistake with someone who’s never had that magic to begin with.