Goal! Leicester 1-2 Leeds (Bamford, 70)
Leeds press the ball out from Leicester, great ball from Raphina, even better finish from Bamford with his left foot. Schmeichel had no chance. It dips over and Bielsa celebrates. Angrily.
68 min: Perez ploughing a lone furrow. He doesn’t have the speed of Vardy or the telepathic link with Barnes or Maddison. Vardy is distinctly better at unsettling opposition defenders too.
66 min: Both teams staying pretty rigid tactically. And intriguingly.
64 min: Leeds penned back, nowhere to go. Brendan will be enjoying out-tacticing El Loco, as he undoubtedly calls Bielsa, having read all those Jonathan Wilson books and that.
62 min: Tielemans has a dig from distance when a ball to Barnes might have been the more expedient option.
60 min: Justin Kavanagh now: “The Peacocks have been displaying their finery to good effect, but such fancydanery is always dangerous with the Foxes sniffing around. Speaking of nicknames, shouldn’t Leeds really update to “the Librarians,” what with all those man buns?”
59 min: Paulo gets in touch: “I see Marc Albrighton is playing. Are there any other footballers who has a rival team’s name in their surname? Is there, somewhere, a Luke McBlackburn for example?”
There was Gary Leeds, though he was actually a member of the Walker Brothers rather than a footballer.
58 min: Ricardo fancies a run, turns on himself and gets a shot in. Brendan’s tactical tweak has opened up space for Leicester and stopped Leeds swarming all over them.
56 min: Leicester going longer, and sitting off Leeds a little? Dallas is stuck like a limpet to Maddison, who has been negligible in this game.
55 min: Bielsa is doing a lot of shouting from his squat position. Looks like he left his bucket back at Thorp Arch. He will be stiff in the morning.
54 min: Leicester free-kick, from the right, but Maddison can only knock the ball off the head of Bamford.
53 min: Leicester pushing on harder this half. Meslier has to come out to stop Perez in his tracks. Ayling, bandaged up, comes back on.
51 min: Luke Ayling requires treatment on a head wound. His hair has come out of his top knot and that could be painful.
49 min: VAR alert. Cooper and Fafana in the Leeds box were all over each other. So no penalty for Leicester as they were both attempting to disrobe their opponent. Mike Dean, who is the virtual assistant robot today, says no.
48 min: Leicester fashion a chance. Tielemans plays in Justin but the wing-back – his new position this half – cannot direct the ball past Cooper, who comes across to block.
47 min: Brendan has gloves on. It must be cold. Did Bill Shankly or Jock Stein wear gloves?
46 min: A bit of in-game management there as they get back underway in the second half.
A Leicester change: Soyuncu is on, and Albrighton is on, suggesting that Brendan is going to a back three to combat the Leeds wave of pressing, perhaps flood the midfield.
Mary Waltz has been in touch. “Leeds is always on the razor’s edge of giving up multiple goals only to instantly flip to chances for their own scoring chances. Unpredictable yet so thrilling.”
Half-time: Leicester 1-1 Leeds
There was a quick exchange of goals but Leeds will be happier. Leicester and particularly Maddison have struggled to cope with their opponents’ pressing. There’s been a couple of moments where Kasper Schmeichel has been called into action and been forced to make excellent saves. Harvey Barnes, the Leicester scorer, has been dangerous.
45 min: Tielemans makes a hell of a yowl when he is tackled in the corner. Alioski’s tackle goes unpunished and the Belgian is OK to continue. Perhaps the yelp got the endorphins flowing.
43 min: Leeds chaos, and the ball comes out to Albrighton who plays the ball into a position of maximum opportunity only for Meslier to claw the ball into his grasp. Perez was lurking. But he ain’t no Jamie Vardy.
42 min: Leeds corner conceded by James Justin. That’s unconvincing too from Leeds.
40 min: Maddison whips in a corner. It’s cleared but Evans, still up for Leicester, holds it up there. Maddison whacks the ball off the post but there had been an infringement. Leeds unconvincing at set pieces.
38 min: First booking, Ayling’s topknot slows his down as he chases after Justin and he is forced to do a bit of shirt pulling.
36 min: Leicester sub, on comes Pereira for Castagne, who has a groin problem, like Leeds’ Rodrigo. The heavy workload is taking its toll on players.
35 min: Weaving run by Albrighton, and a link with Barnes sets up a shot for Albrighton, who can only shoot straight at Meslier. Leeds have let Leicester players run significant distances with the ball and looked vulnerable when doing so.
33 min: A goal each, a disallowed goal each. It’s been a good half. Leeds almost get another, a real goal, when Schmeichel is forced to make a low save from Raphinha. Leeds suddenly looking very dangerous and Brendan very concerned.
31 min: Leeds have the ball in the net, but again, it’s disallowed. Bamford’s header is well saved by Schmeichel, then drops to Klich who is centimetres out. But offside.
29 min: Harrison, one of Leeds’ top-knot crew, is chased down by the touchline. Nobody is getting much time on the ball.
27 min: Schmeichel almost lost the ball in the air when it deflected off Bamford, having already deflected up off a defender.
25 min: Bielsa squatting once more. Admirable quads for a man of his advancing years. His team are enjoying plenty of possession but have not found the penetration of that Dallas goal.
23 min: Leeds attack with Bamford’s control playing in Rafinha before Leicester clear the danger. Those two goals have really opened things up.
21 min: Rodrigo collapses again. He can’t continue. And on comes Klich.
20 min: Leicester have the ball in the net. Perez seizes on a rebound, and scores. But no, an offside flag denies him a second goal of the season.
18 min: Rodrigo is down, and his mime to the bench suggests a tweaked groin. Bielsa is on his bucket, striking up a stratagem to replace Rodrigo.
16 min: There goes the curse of calling a game cagey. Two counterattacks, two excellent goals but both goals that fed off mistakes.
Goal! Leicester 1-1 Leeds (Dallas, 15)
Well well. Maddison is caught napping and then Bamford plays in Dallas, who seizes on the ball and scores.
14 min: Gareth Southgate, in one of those masks with a filter, was watching that. Barnes is a player of such imagination, and that goal showed off his talents.
Goal! Leicester 1-0 Leeds (Barnes, 13)
Barnes carries the ball for sixty yards, exchanges passes with Maddison and he cuts inside and then shoots. What a goal, what a player.
11 min: Leicester sitting off a bit here, clearly aware of the pace of Leeds attacks. And the same would appear to go for Leeds’ fear of their opponent.
9 min: Leeds attack, a quick counter but the ball to Bamford is not of a sufficient angle for a shooting chance. Dallas’s shot comes to not much. It had to negotiate a crowd.
8 min: Ayling is brought down by Barnes but instead of attempting a free-kick at goal, Leeds play it short. Ayling launches a pass at the heart of Leicester’s defence but the ball is soon headed back to Schmeichel.
6 min: This cagey, as is always a holding comment at this point, usually followed by a deluge of action. Not much happening right now though.
4 min: Leicester dominating possession and territory with Leeds players chasing after them in the usual fashion. Bielsa is stood on the sidelines, the King Power dugout is quite far back so the view from his bucket may not be the best.
2 min: Albrighton – another one who might invoke the commentator’s tic – is bundled over. Maddison takes the free-kick and hammers it over the bar. It was ambitious to say the least.
1 min: And away we go, after a moment of the players taking the knee. Leeds kick off and then hoik the ball long towards Bamford.
The teams are in the tunnel, though they enter the field separately due to Covid regs. Leeds are in 12th but only a 6-0 win would take them up to 11th. Leicester can climb to second.
Memories of Muzzy Izzet. “Izzet? It is” was something of forerunner to the “yes, Ndidi” commentator’s tic.
Two teams who have had good seasons don’t feature in this, oddly enough.
Leicester are yet to lose a league game when Ndidi has partnered Youri Tielemans in central midfield so he might be a big miss for Brendan’s boys.
Papy Mendy comes in for the injured Wilfred Ndidi in Leicester’s only change from Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at The Ev.
Just one change for Leeds too.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Castagne, Fofana, Evans, Justin, Mendy, Tielemans, Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes, Perez.
Subs: Soyuncu, Ward, Iheanacho, Amartey, Under, Choudhury, Ricardo Pereira, Fuchs, Thomas.
Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, Cooper, Struijk, Alioski, Phillips, Raphinha, Dallas, Rodrigo, Harrison, Bamford.
Subs: Poveda-Ocampo, Roberts, Casilla, Helder Costa, Hernandez, Davis, Cresswell, Klich, Shackleton.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire)
Eleven days ago, Leicester beat Frank Lampard’s Chelsea and climbed to the top of the league. They were soon overtaken by Manchester United and a draw with Everton in midweek, and that after Jordan Pickford did a Jordan Pickford, means they cannot climb to the summit this week. Manchester City look fairly unmovable there at the moment. Anyway, Brendan Rodgers’ team brims with talent but a lack of Jamie Vardy means a lack of a standard bearer. It’s fair to say Ayoze Pérez struggled to replicate Vardy’s vim, vigour and vehemence against The Ev.
Leeds Leeds Leeds, then. They beat Newcastle in the week which, until Steve Bruce’s men beat The Ev yesterday, did not look like too much of an achievement. It was a better performance when previously in 2021 Leeds had looked
lacklustre. Brendan is a big fan of Bielsa – of course he is – and paid tribute to the great man after his team won 4-1 at Elland Road in November, and classily too.
We can expect an open game, with two managers who like their teams to attack. And Kasper Schmeicehel is playing against his old club, one that binned him in 2011.
Kick-off at 2pm UK time. Join me.