Leicester City have failed in their first test as Champions of England after slumping to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of a José Mourinho led Manchester United in the F.A. Community Shield. Not too much to be worried about though, the Community Shield is viewed more as a friendly game than a top-notch title match which can draw tears to the eyes of the losers.
English premier league Champions, Leicester, would have made a strong statement if they had overcome a revitalized Manchester United under the tutelage of new Portuguese manager, Mourinho, but it was not to be. A solo run and strike from Jesse Lingard set United on their way, until an error from Marouane Fellaini allowed Jamie Vardy to bring Leicester back into the game. Zlatan Ibrahimovic then displayed a bit of class by powering in a header off the back of a stumbling Wes Morgan to add one more Community Shield to the Manchester United trophy chest (which already had 20).
From a Leicester perspective, here are four things that were noticeable from the performance:
The Foxes miss N’Golo Kante
After the exit of ‘tireless’ Kante, boss Claudio Ranieri hinted that the Frenchman would be missed when he said:
Leicester certainly missed a player (Kante) who could play as two players in one. Danny Drinkwater showed flashes of brilliance but missed the man (Kante) who was always there for him, to mop up and add that extra vigor to the midfield. Andy King? Well, he looked a bit off-pace for the entire 63 minutes he was on the pitch. The introduction of Kante’s look-alike, Nampalys Mendy, did little to stop Manchester United from dominating the midfield with the likes of Fellaini and Carrick. It’ll be interesting to see just how much Leicester misses Kante in the end, but for now, it’s quite obvious they sorely need someone better to do the mopping in midfield.
Mahrez is going to have a tougher season
Riyad Mahrez, the reigning PFA player of the Year, looked lackluster all game. He should’ve been the one to come off for Musa, instead of Okazaki. However, Ranieri left him on to his own peril. The Algerian’s poor display in the Community Shield can certainly be forgiven, considering his more than respectable performances from last season. Albeit, he should look back at this game and know it’s not a one off. Being shackled by a converted right-back (Valencia), and a left full-back (Shaw) just returning from a lengthy injury layoff should cause serious worry both to the Algerian and Ranieri. Clearly it won’t be business as usual for Mahrez this season.
Musa combines well with Vardy
The Nigerian came off the bench at half-time and within 7 minutes of his introduction had already forced an error off Fellaini, which led to Vardy’s goal thanks to his blistering pace. Although Musa’s performance trailed off after that contribution with flashes of brilliance coming few and far between, we had already seen enough of what the former CSKA Moscow winger can do. One of such was the difficulty Man United’s backline had dealing with the pace of him and Vardy coming at them. The cohesion seen in this game between those two can prove to be a real asset for Leicester this season.
Backline will leak more goals
Last season the Huth-Morgan partnership proved to be formidable. Leicester conceded 36 times in the league, just enough for the Foxes to pick up the title. If what we’ve seen in preseason from Leicester is anything to go by, then they should be getting ready to concede far and well above that miniscule number this upcoming season. Jesse Lingard practically ghosted past the said pair to score the opener, whilst Zlatan Ibrahimovic capitalized on Morgan’s early jump to score United’s second. Without rushing to early conclusions, it’s clear that the pair still look strong together, but keeping clean sheets might be a very daunting task come the new season.