So finally a chance to watch a match ‘live’. I was working on opening day, was half comatose with jet lag for the Man City game although, given the result, that seems to have been an advantage. That loss will be no more relevant to the Canaries’ final position than the subsequent cup win against Bournemouth.
With the impressive Christos Tzolis unavailable through injury, only Kenny Mclean and Brandon Williams came into the side from the 11 that were so impressive midweek.
Leicester began pressing very high and City struggled to get the ball clear, James Maddison forcing Grant Hanley into conceding a corner early on.
As City struggled to get the ball clear, Williams seemed unaware of the onrushing player and was easily dispossessed by Ricardo. With Ben Gibson moving across to cover, Billy Gilmour was left out of position and unable to prevent Jamie Vardy stroking home.
Leicester seemed to drop off a little after that and City gradually began to look more settled. They were still weak in midfield though, Vardy able to run half the length of the pitch with the ball before being stopped by a solid challenge from Gibson.
It seemed that it wasn’t quite working for City, Milot Rashica receiving the ball in promising positions but never threatening.
Most of City’s goal threats were coming from long-range shots, Pierre Lees-Melou having several chances. City, gradually grew in confidence, while always looking vulnerable to the ball through the middle, and began to put together a spell of possession.
Max Aarons played a beautiful ball inside the full-back for Lees-Melou to run on to. He tangled with Soyuncu with the ball initially going out for a corner, but on the first VAR review it was obvious that Lees-Melou was brought down. The referee was called to the pitchside monitor and awarded the penalty.
Teemu Pukki stroked it home confidently to equalize – his and City’s first PL goal of the season.
After an initial flurry of possession by Leicester, City began to impose themselves on the second half. Just as I was beginning to wonder why Rashica was on the pitch, he made a series of penetrative runs producing threatening balls into the Leicester box. The ball came to Todd Cantwell who laid it off to Lees-Melou but he took one touch too many and his shot was well over.
Aarons then played a superb ball to Pukki who put his header straight at the keeper.
Leicester then forced two corners in quick succession, both times Maddison screwed the ball wide against his former club. He should have done better.
More City pressure but this time Rashica’s cross-field ball was intercepted. Aarons chased back tenaciously, winning the ball with a superb tackle.
Moments later, City re-cycled possession, resulting in Rashica being brought down on the corner of the box. He hit the resultant free-kick against the wall.
Leicester were still threatening on the break, Madision playing a lovely ball inside Williams but Gibson was across to clear the danger.
Farke then replaced Pukki and Lees-Melou with Josh Sargent and Lukas Rupp with the American, in particular, quickly making his presence felt.
Only moments later though, City were left trailing again.
Gilmour made a half-hearted effort to close Leicester down on the City right but the ball was long gone before he got there as Leicester moved it into the space he vacated in the middle, to the feet of Vardy. He moved it across again to Mark Albrighton who was in acres of space to fire in from the diagonal via a deflection off Williams.
Shortly after, Gilmour was replaced with Adam Idah, Sargent moving into the wide right position.
Within moments, City had a corner and Mclean rose to power a header past Kasper Schmeichel. This time VAR was not so kind, Cantwell being adjudged offside and the goal was struck off, much to the disgust of the Dereham Deco who earned a yellow card for his protests.
City pushed hard for an equalizer but it really felt like it was never going to be their day. So three games in, no points, but there was a lot to take heart from in this performance.
Outclassed against Liverpool and Man City, the fact that City pushed last season’s ifth place finishers close, albeit a side weakened by injuries, is something to take some hope from.
A few questions remain though. The midfield balance was better, but still not right. Gilmour looks talented in possession but lacks positional awareness when City don’t have the ball. There is still a Skipp-shaped hole in front of the back four, and Rashica looked dangerous at times but must be under threat from Tzolis. Williams needs more time to settle in.
Still, with Arsenal losing, City are clear of the bottom…relegation mini-league anyone?