Leicester City came away with a merited point away to Southampton, due to a much-improved second-half performance. After a terrible first half, Brendan Rodgers decided to bring on Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall in the place of the struggling Boubakary Soumaré.
Unsurprisingly, this provided the catalyst for a much more energised second-half display. After the delayed restart, the Foxes managed 12 shots compared to Southampton’s 6 and probably should have won the game. This begs the question of whether Rodgers should make changes to the midfield double-pivot.
Boubakary Soumaré was signed with the hope that he would be an eventual competitor/replacement for the currently injured Youri Tielemans. Unfortunately, recently he has seemed to lack energy in pressing the opposition as well as being too negative and wayward with his passing.
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This is not to single Soumaré out, Wilfried Ndidi has also been guilty of some below-par displays. Nonetheless, Ndidi’s relative struggles may partly be due to the absence of Tielemans who complements Ndidi extremely well.
The first-half performance against Southampton was another indicator of City’s lethargy which has occurred far too often this season. Conceding soft goals and getting on the back foot gives LCFC a mountain to climb, which has been the cause of many dropped points this campaign. This wasn’t helped by the midfield’s inability to effectively press or win 50/50s, compounded by their lack of ambition on the ball.
The second half, however, showed the difference energy and positivity can make to a midfield. Dewsbury-Hall brought basics such as energy and aggression which was severely lacking before the end of the half. Furthermore, positivity on the ball was emphasised by some excellent switches of play to get Leicester on the front foot. Being willing to show for the ball is also a necessity, KDH brought this as well as off-the-ball movement. Frankly, this was a breath of fresh air and was thoroughly appreciated by the 2,100 away support.
Looking forward, the Foxes have little time to relax with another tough fixture away at Aston Villa on Sunday. Steven Gerrard has already revitalised the confidence of Villa who have recorded two wins and a defeat since Gerrard’s appointment. If the last three games are an example, Gerrard will encourage his side to press high up the pitch from the off. Leicester City must therefore be ready to match these energy levels and also be composed in possession. This means taking calculated risks without playing hospital passes, especially in regards to playing out the back.
Although Tielemans is reportedly getting closer to a return, it seems unwise to thrust him straight back into action. With that in mind, Brendan Rodgers must start Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall on Sunday and a recognisable deputy to the Belgian may begin to take shape.