Scott Davies witnessed a late late winner at the King Power as the Foxes enjoyed a late supper of Canaries on Toast !
Here is Scott’s view from the stands….
Norwich City visited the King Power Stadium on the back of losing 8 of their last 9 away games and they have failed to keep a clean sheet in the previous 13 away Premier League fixtures. They also boast the unfortunate stat of having the joint worst defence which is why they are hovering around the relegation zone.
The Foxes were looking to bounce back from their injury time heartbreak on Valentines Day against Arsenal having been given some time off by Ranieri to rejuvenate themselves ready for the title run in. Despite being given time off, it has been reported that the players were given a strict training regime whilst away and their progress was tracked on GPS by the backroom staff.
Ranieri was forced into a change of personal due to Danny Simpsons red card two weeks ago with Daniel Amartey stepping in to make his debut. The Ghanaian completed 90 minutes in the Under 21’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City just under 2 weeks ago.
There was obvious nervousness from the fans as this was a huge game and the first of 5 season defining fixtures to come in what has been dubbed the easier run in of the title candidates. Some fans felt an easy victory was on the cards, whilst the seasoned pros foresaw a cagey close game which could go either way. I think any team down the bottom deserves respect as we showed only 12 months ago that bottom dwellers shouldn’t be taken for granted.
The game began as a scrappy affair and never really got beyond that throughout. Leicester’s first sight of goal came on 13 minutes when Vardy broke into the 18 yard box from the right and played in Okazaki who tried a clever back heal only to see his shot blocked.
On 27 Riyad Marrez weaved into the box after some neat footwork to beat 2 Norwich defenders but he too saw his shot blocked. The ball fell to Albrighton, but his shot was also blocked. Albrighton went close again after he curled in a free kick towards the far post. Huth failed to connect with the header, but the ball almost found it’s way into the bottom corner.
Norwich didn’t threaten until the 36th minute when Jerome should have put the Canaries 1-0 up, however he flashed his header wide. It was a warning to the Foxes. The half finished 0-0 and Norwich were frustrating the Foxes.
The second half started in much the same way as the first. Norwich were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure whilst taking their time over set pieces, goal kicks and generally slowing the game down seemingly happy to go home with a point.
Vardy had City’s first shot of the second half and the first Foxes shot on target after Mahrez won a free kick just outside the box. Drinkwater laid the ball off to Vardy, who drove his shot low, but it was easy for Ruddy to gather.
In the 69th minute, the Foxes welcomed back Jeff Schlupp who had been out for 3 months, who incidentally scored in the reverse fixture back in October. He replaced Okazaki whilst N’Golo Kante limped off and was replaced by Andy King.
Chances were few and far between and in an attempt to go for the win, Ranieri put on Leo Ulloa replacing Daniel Amartey, who had a steady game and the Foxes switched to a back 3.
Norwich went close on 83 after Nathan Redmond was allowed time to shoot from distance and his shot went just wide of the far post which had Schmeichel beaten.
The breakthrough finally came on 89 minutes and Claudio Ranieri’s risk paid off. Mahrez picked up the ball in the opposing half and found Albrighton racing down the right flank, the former Villa man delivered a superb low cross into the 6 yard box which Vardy made the slightest connection which (unintentionally) fooled the Norwich backline, the ball fell to Ulloa who cooly adjusted his feet to tap the ball home from close range. The roar was electrifying and that may well be a season defining goal.
Of course, it’s not Leicester unless you have the last minute heart in the mouth moment! Patrick Bamford first went close on 93 minutes, however he dragged his shot wide and soon after Norwich had a dangerous free kick on the left. I’m sure many fans were casting their minds back to 2 weeks ago, but on this occasion, Schmeichel was having none of it an came and took the ball for the last touch of the game.
It wasn’t a dreadful game, but it was certainly below the standard we are used to seeing Credit has to be given to Norwich for doing a job on us, however, City never seem to stop and once again they pushed till the very end and got their reward.
Spurs continue to push us hard with a 2-1 win over Swansea having been behind at half time, however Arsenal lost to Man United giving us a bit of breathing space over 3rd place. Both meet each other next weekend in the early Saturday kick off, so by the time we come to play Watford at 5:30 we could well be put under a bit of pressure to regain top spot, depending on the midweek results too of course.
Man of the Match – N’Golo Kante