Our Fan Reporter SCOTT DAVIES was at the King Power to see Leicester thump Stoke, and we bring you his view from the stands…
Last time round v Stoke, City turned over a 2-0 deficit with both Mahrez and Vardy earning the Foxes a superb away point, but they were under no illusions that such a result today would have been disappointing having only won 1 of their previous 7, dropping vital points against Bournemouth and Villa. If we are to go in real search of the title, this was the game to get us back on track.
For the perfectionist, the head to head looked like this W32, D32, L31, whilst a loss would have looked pretty on the stats, it wouldn’t have looked pretty on the league table.
Mark Hughes went public on his thoughts of Mahrez and Vardy being found out by Premier League teams, prior to their encounter with the Foxes. City needed little team talk following that and they really did come out guns blazing.
From front to back, City were rampant. Okazaki has suddenly realised he is a Premier League player. His control, strength, skill and tenacity would have earned him man of the match for me had he not took a knock and got taken off with 30 to play.
Vardy chased everything and defended from the front, Kante and Drinkwater were simply outstanding, Mahrez was once again magic, Albrighton battled and bullied the wing and the back four were solid.
City dominated the first half and Okazaki and Vardy had some half chances but never really tested Butland. Mahrez tried an overhead kick from a Fuchs cross that went close, but the audaciousness of the effort showed that he hasn’t lost his confidence.
Ryan Shawcross was taken off early with an injury which didn’t assist Stoke in trying to keep City out and City took advantage of this on 41 minutes. A corner was headed out by the Potters rearguard, only as far as Danny Drinkwater who from 20 yards out, smashed a shot goalwards that hit the unsighted Butland and went in for City’s first goal from outside the 18 yard box this season, which was enough to take City into the break 1-0 up.
Stoke struggled to break City down in the second half with Kante bossing the game, however Schmeichel had to be alert on 60 as a Josalu header tested the Dane who palmed the ball away to safety. Okazaki made way for Ulloa and the Argentine came close to scoring on 65, but dragged his shot wide of the far post. A minute later though, City doubled their lead.
A nice passage of play allowed Drinkwater to dink a sweet pass over the Stoke defence which Vardy took down, rounded Butland and slotted the ball home from an acute angle. It was a trademark finish from England’s number 9 who hadn’t scored for 10 hours and 17 minutes.
In the 81st minute the Foxes faithful were treated to some ‘sexy football’ by Robert Huth. In a well worked free kick (cough), he did well to keep the ball in for a goal kick as it was closer to the corner flag than the goal. At 2-0 fans and players alike found the funny side and a chorus of ‘What the ****ing Hell was That’ rang around the ground.
On 87 however, the game was put out of sight by Ulloa. Vardy made a run into the right channel to receive the ball before laying it off to Mahrez. The Algerian turned the Stoke backline inside out with a sublime nutmeg thrown in. His cross come shot fell to Ulloa who finished neatly to round off an impressive performance by him and the team as a whole.
There was time for Damarai Gray to make his Premier League debut, but not enough time to make any meaningful impact. I think it was just to get him into the match day experience in preparation for the title challenge ahead.
Mark Hughes was made to eat his words and Leicester made a usually impressive Stoke side look extremely average in what I thought was by far our performance of the season so far.
We now look forward to a mini winter break whilst our next opponents Liverpool face two cup games this week having already had a string of injuries to their key players.
Man of the Match – N’Golo Kante
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