The fixtures come thick and fast over the festive period and we sent Scott Davies to watch the first game of 2016 at the KP….
Bournemouth visited the King Power for the first Premier League game of 2016. The Foxes remain unbeaten in the previous 5 fixtures against the Cherries, however, this was a potential banana skin for the Foxes as they visited in fairly good form, losing only 1 of the previous 6 games, losing 2-0 to Arsenal which is nothing to be ashamed of.
There was an air of expectation that City were going to walk this game and some of the pre match predictions were a little bit wild, some citing a 4 or 5 nil victory. Personally I was more cautious of this game than any other we’ve recently played, as Bournemouth are very much the team we were last season, tenacious, organised and somewhat fearless.
Both teams started off very evenly and on 9 minutes, Riyad Mahrez tried a spectacular overhead kick from a Marc Albrighton cross, which went narrowly over. However, some slack defensive play by City almost let Bournemouth score on 13 minutes. Junior Stanislas delivered a high ball into the box which Schmeichel should have come to collect. Simpson lost his man at the far post and the ball was played across to Joshua King who somehow headed wide from inside the six yard box.
Similarly, Jamie Vardy looked certain to score on 25 after Ulloa shot come cross found him 5 yards out. Vardy hit the ball sweetly, but the ball cannoned off the inside of the upright. Credit to the Cherries keeper Artur Boruc who narrowed the angle, forcing Vardy to take the shot quickly.
Again on 36, Bournemouth came close as they broke down the right wing through Joshua King who delivered a ball into Dan Gosling who fired high over the bar, when he perhaps should have hit the target.
The honours were even at the break and the City fans were somewhat frustrated not to be leading. Ulloa made way during the interval with Nathan Dyer entering the fold and Riyad Mahrez pushing up front.
City started the second half much stronger and dominated from the off. On 50 minutes Vardy was played through but took a heavy touch which allowed the Cherries defence to track back, however, Vardy still managed to carve out a curling shot which Boruc did well to turn around the post.
On 56, Vardy once again broke through following a sublime through ball from Drinkwater and he looked certain to score but was upended by the Cherries captain Francis who was shown red for preventing a clear goals coring opportunity.
Up stepped Mahrez who looked nervous. As he ran up to strike the ball, he took his normal stutter which has so far proved to be effective (save for the penalty shootout at Hull), however Boruc guessed the direction and it was the perfect height for him to turn the ball away and out of danger.
With over 30 minutes to play against 10 men, it was a tough ask for Bournemouth to hold out for a result as City were turning the screw. City pushed and pushed with Morgan, Vardy and the newly introduced Okazaki all came close, but City just could not break the deadlock and Bournemouth held out for a precious point in their fight to stay up. Some sections of the City fans booed, certainly where I was sat in any case.
On another day, City would have won, but all credit to Bournemouth and they are a credit to the Premier League. We are still second, we have reached what was our season target in January, so anything from here is a bonus. Sit back and enjoy the ride!
Man of the Match – N’Golo Kante