Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year Conclusions from the KC Stadium

Hull City0-1Leicester
(HT 0-1)

Vassell 11

  • We can start with a spark. A new year, a new start, as they say. Certainly this was the mentality with which Sven Goran Eriksson's men approached the first game of 2011 as they pushed and harried Nigel Pearson's Hull side throughout the first twenty minutes. Darius Vassell's sharp volley to follow-up Richie Wellen's looping shot as it hit the crossbar was a lovely thing to see after Vassell has for too long been accused of not being sharp enough for this level. His reaction here was class and echoed beautifully Leicester's super start to this game and to 2011.
  • We can grind-out a result. We scored in only the eleventh minute and went over an hour without conceding. Against a Nigel Pearson side, it must be to our credit that we were able to out-grind them to that extent.
  • What a win! A first away win in what seems like forever (four matches without), a first clean sheet in five matches, and end to a barren spell and against former manager Nigel Pearson to boot. Yes, there is the hideous cloud that is the injury to Greg Cunningham, but for Leicester fans the new year has started beautifully and we are just three points off the play-offs.

Darius Vassell
Started brightly and hit-back at his critics with a super reaction when he volleyed home to give the Foxes an early lead. Faded afterwards, but put in a solid performance.

Volley: Vassell fires home to give the Foxes three points

Yuki Abe
Unbeatable early on, the diminutive Japanese was winning every ball and jumping for every header. Perhaps he was showing the Japan national team what they're missing at the Asian Cup. He did put a pass astray to destroy a promising move when the advancing Foxes were three on one in the dying minutes, but Leicester fans should nonetheless be grateful that Abe is here as we enter what is bound to be a tricky January and try to build on a positive start to the year.

Michael Morrison and Jack Hobbs
After a blip against Millwall, Morrison's stock has risen again after he led the back-line with aplomb this afternoon. His partnership with Jack Hobbs rekindled after both players have been left in the dark of late, Eriksson kept faith with this all-English pairing who tidily and efficiently kept a first clean sheet in five. The likes of Vitor, Davies and the incoming Ben Mee are under pressure to perform if they are to challenge for a place in the Swede's starting eleven.

Richie Wellens
Yet again proved why any opposition fan will cite the midfielder as the player they fear the most. Once again Wellens pulled out everything to show-up his former boss and took command of the midfield. Top drawer.

Lloyd Dyer
The quick winger had a great game and was able to break apart the Hull defence with sheer pace. However, his inability to place the ball past Tigers' keeper Brad Guzan after he was one-on-one with the American put pressure on the rest of the team to perform as we remained just one goal clear. Dyer's place in the team is assured thanks to his determination and speed, but his failure to deliver the killer ball or convert his chances time and time again could eventually cost the team.

Injured: Yuki Abe and Darius Vassell watch over Greg Cunningham as he
receives treatment on the pitch for his broken leg

Greg Cunningham
For such a promising, shining star of Leicester City's renaissance under Eriksson to be laid-out on the pitch surrounded by the fluorescent jackets of the St John and the Yorkshire Ambulance services is a truly worrying sight. The challenge that has broken the leg of the Manchester City loanee was clumsy but by no means the worst - or most intended - on a Leicester player this season, although Liam Rosenior was rightly shown a red card for his off-the-floor lunge. It is a bad injury for Cunningham, one that will severely disrupt his loan spell at the Walkers Stadium - if it is not immediately terminated by Man City - and the only consolation is that we do have a top-class replacement in Bruno Berner as cover.
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