FAN REPORT By SCOTT DAVIES
Leicester returned to the scene of their lowest moment in their history, relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time ever in 2008. This was made even worse by the fact Stoke were promoted the very same day and have been in the Premier League ever since. There were happier times last term when City came here and won 1-0 for their first win of the season. Stoke are yet to win this season and this wasn’t going to be an easy game for either side.
City made one change from the starting line up that faced Villa with Kante coming in for Albrighton, setting up with what looked like a 5 man midfield.
City made a fairly decent start to the match, with Schlupp looking bright down the left, creating 2 low crosses which were gathered well by Butland. On 10 minutes, Mahrez had sight of goal with a 20 yard shot, but Butland gathered easily getting his body behind the ball.
Stoke responded well and began to press City. Whelan delivered a shot come cross which beat everyone including Inlers international teammate Shaqiri, and the ball fell harmlessly wide.
On 13, Stoke took the lead after some sloppy play by City. Arnautovic cut down the left, turning De Laet with ease. he cut inside and split Huth and Morgan apart with a deft pass into Bojan who finished neatly into the bottom left.
Stoke doubled their lead on 20 against a City team who looked like they’d never played together before. A long ball upfield which Huth should have attacked, but left to bounce, fell to Morgan who only had to clear his lines. Instead he tried to pass it back to Schmeichel, making little connection allowing the alleged City deadline day target, Walters to finish with ease.
Kante had the best chance for City on 32 when his low drive was tipped wide by Butland. Stoke had a few chances to put the game beyond City, but thankfully it never materialised and a City went in to half time at 2-0 down with some poor performances all over the field, in particular Inler who still isn’t up to speed with the pace of the Premier League. De Laet received much criticism from a number of fans, but in his defence he was left wide open at times by Mahrez who can sometimes be lazy tracking back.
Ranieri is clearly comfortable trying new things, but what stands out is his willingness to retract his decisions and revert back to type. Albrighton came on for Inler at half time and Kante was given his role back in the centre midfield. This was a master stroke by the Tinkerman as Kante was different class in the second half, bossing the middle of the park.
5 minutes after the interval, City got a lifeline when Drinkwater was hauled down by Arnautovic in the box. Mahrez converted the penalty calmly to make it 2-1. Surely it couldn’t happen twice in a week?
The away support of almost 3000 City fans started to believe again. Blue shirts continued to push forward, sometimes leaving gaps at the back, but they held firm, getting their reward on 68 minutes. A long ball was played up to Ulloa who had replaced Okazaki only a few minutes earlier. He flicked the ball on to Vardy who still had work to do to beat a defender and the advancing Butland, and he finished nicely to make it 2-2 for his 3 consecutive goal this season.
This was still anyone’s game and Stoke bolstered their attack, bringing on Crouch and Odemwingie. Stoke came twice came close, with a header flashing just wide from Cameron and Schmeichel saving well from a Shaqiri free kick on 78 and 81 respectively. Kante was replaced by King after indicating to the bench that he needed to come off late on.
Vardy was inches away from sealing all 3 points when he unleashed a shot from 20 yards which flew to the left of Butland in the 93rd minute. The full time whistle went to chants of ‘are you Villa in disguise’. Another superb comeback from the #fearless Foxes for a well earned point against tricky opposition.
Despite the hard work, there will be no Pizza or hotdogs for the players this week.
Man of the Match – N’golo Kante