Sergio Aguero will take time to get back to his best, canny Fox deserves a pay rise and other things we learned from Leicester 0 Manchester City 0
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Aguero is miles off the pace
This was a pale imitation of the most feared striker in the Premier League. Sergio Aguero looked horribly rusty during his hour on the pitch, just as he did at Arsenal eight days previously. The Argentine is normally back in the groove pretty quickly after an injury absence but that is not the case this time. The hamstring and heel injuries that have disrupted Aguero’s season look like they have taken their toll and he will need far more game time before he is back to his scintillating best.
Mahrez and Kante scout deserves a pay rise
To the credit of Claudio Ranieri, he has admitted the debt of gratitude he owes of head of recruitment Steve Walsh for persuading him to sign N’Golo Kante in the summer. Twelve months previously, Walsh drove through the transfer of Riyad Mahrez. Walsh is clearly an excellent judge of talent who always knows the French market well. He should be handsomely rewarded for recruiting players who have been such key figures in the club’s against-the-odds rise. Mahrez showed only flashes of magic against City but Kante was outstanding, working with his two fellow central midfielders to deny space and time on the ball to the visitors. For good measure, he nearly scored a fabulous second-half goal after breaking forward.
Leicester capable of going toe-to-toe with big guns
The Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool can be dismissed as a blip. Leicester have showed during their remarkable rise this season that they are capable of going toe to toe with the big guns. It is a testament to what a force they have become that there was a slight tinge of disappointment at the King Power Stadium that they could not defeat the 2014 Premier League champions, a team many regarded as the favourites for this season’s title. In recent weeks, Leicester have also taken three points off Chelsea and Everton, as well as drawing against Manchester United. Flat track bullies? Hardly.
Otamendi and Mangala finally keep it clean
Without Vincent Kompany, City have tended to wilt in away matches. Not on this occasion. Nicolas Otamendi and the especially error-prone Eliaquim Mangala might have been relieved when they saw a Leicester team-sheet that included only one regular striker rather than the two that Ranieri normally fields. Jamie Vardy was as willing as ever but blazed over the bar the one chance that came his way. To the credit of the City centre-backs, it was one of few genuine opportunities for the unusually cautious home team. For the first time in the 18 matches City have played without Kompany this season, they kept a clean sheet.
City are struggling to score away from home
Adventurous and clinical at home, the City on its travels is a different beast. More nervy, less efficient and certainly less effective. The net result is that they are scoring few goals on the road and are dropping too many points away from Etihad Stadium.