Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Festive Conclusions from Leeds and the New Den

Boxing Day, Sunday, 26th December 2010


Leicester
2-2
Leeds United
(HT 0-1)
Gallagher (pen) 72
King 76
Gradel 19
Snodgrass 55



Tuesday, 28th December 2010

Millwall
2-0
Leicester

(HT 2-0)
Morrison 12
Puncheon 25




Firstly, to the Boxing Day clash and Leeds United, whose good form generally in the league looked to remain as they went ahead before twenty minutes with former Leicester youngster Max Gradel nodding home the opener. It got much worse after the break as Robert Snodgrass netted a spectacular second with the outside of his foot from an acute angle. The Foxes were left reeling as yet again Sven Goran Eriksson's side had failed to start well and paid the price.

Booked: Schmeichel sees only yellow
after fouling Vassell to give away a penalty
for Leicester's first
It took a bit of luck for the Foxes to get back in the game, and once more it was Paul Gallagher who thumped home a penalty to stir the game into life after the Whites' keeper Kasper Schmeichel hauled-down the advancing Darius Vassell. Controversially, Schmeichel - clearly last man - failed to be sent-off by referee Anthony Bates who came in for much derision from blue-shirted fans in the latter half of the match.

And if luck saw the Foxes grab a goal back, it was pure class that saw Andy King steal an equaliser as he half-volleyed the ball from long range to score emphatically off the underside of the crossbar. From then, Leeds doggedly pressed forwards and prompted Chris Kirkland into two excellent saves - somewhat redeeming himself after a dire d├ębut at Ipswich before Christmas.

It was not Leicester City's finest moment, but the 30,000-strong crowd could go home for a Boxing Day tea perfectly satisfied after an entertaining fixture that sees Eriksson remain unbeaten at the Walkers Stadium.

Millwall were ahead after twelve minutes after Stephen Morrison beat Greg Cunningham to fire home and after Jack Hobbs' error, Jason Puncheon made no mistake to poach a second. Those defenders' mistakes cost their team in terms of two goals, but at the other end of the pitch Roman Bednar again failed to shine, seemingly lacking dedication to his increasingly frustrated team mates. The second-half dismissal of Alan Dunne for an horrific challenge on Richie Wellens allowed the Foxes back into the game, but aside from chances for Steve Howard and Lloyd Dyer, Lions' keeper David Forde was rarely threatened and Leicester limped to their fourth successive away defeat.

What remains crystal clear after the first half of this season - a season in which the future looks so bright under Eriksson, Derek Fazackerley and new ownership - is that Leicester need to get out of the blocks faster and get results away from home. Taking chances is crucial, of course, with none of the forward players in the squad regularly scoring goals. Indeed, Gallagher's six goals are the most scored by a registered striker in the Foxes' ranks, and half of those are from penalty kicks.

Captain fantastic: King scored again against Leeds

Some could argue that at least there are a greater range of goals coming throughout the team - fourteen players have scored this season - but nobody seems to be taking a lead as a centre-forward, leaving Andy King, undoubtedly the club's brightest prospect in years, to pick-up the slack. Indeed without King's contributions, Leicester would have scored just 32 times this term.

At home, the Foxes are a classy team. Free-flowing football abounds with a swagger some Premier League teams could be proud of. At Fortress Filbert Way, Leicester City are a team that battle and fight, scrapping for the equaliser. Away from home, however, it is a different story. We start slowly, make errors to concede silly goals and do not have the finesse to claw back and claim a point. Eriksson needs to find some new ideas if we are to get into the Premier League as the owners - and more importantly the fans - desire.
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