Saturday, 12 February 2011

Conclusions from Pride Park

Derby County0-2Leicester
(HT 0-2)

Yakubu 28
King 45+3

  • A bright early spell served us well. After ten minutes Leicester City were utterly dominant, parading the ball around the pitch like a senior side against the youth. Derby's brief forays into the away side's half in the early stages failed to impress. However it was once more Leicester's inability to create - and take - chances that gave this football match it's edgy feel until Yakubu fired home to rest those nerves.
  • King's injury time second was key. Without a second goal, this could have been one of those games that easily drift away from the leading side, who then end up conceding to drop two points. King's goal was key to ensure the Foxes left their East Midlands rivals with all three points intact, not to mention the Welshman crowning a superb team display with his finish. Without this goal, Derby's second half revival might have proven costly.
  • This was a decisive game of two halves. In the first half Leicester were dominant, the Foxes a class above an ailing Derby County side. In the second forty-five, the Rams fought back but again Leicester were equal to that, dug in and claimed a vital clean sheet. This was indeed a game of two halves but Leicester were more than a match for Derby in both of them, and that is to our credit.

Andy King
Another much brighter game for the young Welshman who has once more found his groove after that brace against Barnsley a week ago. King's ability to burst forward as almost a shadow striker is part of what makes his game so effective, and he was the man on a number of occasions today who was deep inside the Rams' half, applying pressure on the edge of their penalty area to give the midfield options. This was certainly the case as he slotted-home the Foxes second goal to cap his - and the team's - excellent performance.

King-credible: Andy King slots home after a wonderful team move

Feed the Yak: Yakubu gives Leicester the lead
Kyle Naughton and Patrick van Aanholt
The defensive duo who would rather be forwards. Naughton and van Aanholt both enjoyed attacking the Derby flanks, particularly in the first half as the Rams struggled to adapt to a new 4-3-3 system implemented by Nigel Clough as an attempt to stifle Leicester's positive, attacking play. They were, twice, caught-out by Derby's wingers after forays into enemy territory, but their threat up front - not to mention their pace - more than accounted for this.

The Everton loanee was another player who was much brighter today than last week, perhaps the derby atmosphere becoming infectious amongst newer players to the club. His opening goal, anyway, was one of the highest quality in technique and skill, the manner in which he allowed the ball to almost rest on his thigh before turning to unleash an almighty volley a pleasure to watch again and again.What a way to demonstrate the Foxes' intent in front of the TV cameras.

Ben Mee
Another assured performance from the youngster, who is proving now why it is him starting at the heart of the Leicester defence.

Broadly a controlled and capable performance, but Ricardo did seem very reluctant to catch the ball: a worrying trait in a goalkeeper. He seemed keen to clear his box even when under pressure inside his own six-yard box. Furthermore, some of his distribution left much to be desired. That said, he did seem to lead the four defenders in front of him with aplomb, keen to make his voice heard - and presence felt - in the solid Foxes defence. Derby's lack of real attacking nous, however, means that Ricardo's goalkeeping capabilities are yet to be properly tested in Leicester colours.

Derby County
Only in the second half and a switch to 4-4-2 did Derby get ahead in the possession stakes. The sheer gulf in class between these two sides highlighted the plight the Rams currently find themselves in. It was mentioned a number of times during Sky's coverage of the game that Leicester passed Derby as the Foxes rose up the table, whilst the Pride Park outfit seem to be in continual free fall. If this performance is typical of the Rams - and not just an off-colour day - they are in serious trouble. As good as Leicester were - and we were indeed very, very impressive particularly in the first half - Derby were terrible. Perhaps the blue shirted fans' chants taunting Nigel Clough about his future were not so wide of the mark...
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