Leicester opener exposes their need for more signings

Date published: Sunday 13th September 2020 4:25

Leicester's two latest signings created and scored their opener. They were bought more than a year apart.

Leicester did well to overcome early issues to beat West Brom comfortably. But Brendan Rodgers knows he needs more depth.

 

It took time and effort to plot but Belgium finally exacted a measure of convoluted revenge on Sunday. Neither Dennis Praet nor Timothy Castagne actually played at Euro 2016 but both rendered Hal Robson-Kanu as powerless as he did their compatriots with a Cruyff turn four years ago.

Leicester’s breakthrough against West Brom was entirely more mechanical yet equally effective. With the scores level after 56 engrossing minutes, Praet traded passes with auxiliary left-back James Justin on the edge of the area. He continued his run into the unmarked space and crossed wonderfully for Castagne’s crashing header.

Central midfielder had turned exciting winger to provide for the wing-back dressed as a towering striker. In a game that featured Wilfred Ndidi in defence and Nampalys Mendy on the pitch, it had started to feel like Brendan Rodgers had jumped the shark a little.

From there, the Foxes could pick and choose when they went on the hunt. West Brom had been the better side earlier on but soon faltered due to a lack of focal point in attack and a weak midfield. Slaven Bilic is sure to oversee some pretty football but early forecasts of a relegation battle seem pertinent.

Leicester themselves struggled but grew into the game and dominated once they had a foothold. After a level first half, the visitors had seven shots, four on target, to West Brom’s two attempts on goal. Kyle Edwards had a late attempt blocked before Robson-Kanu completed this incredibly forced narrative with a stoppage-time miss.

Rodgers needed that. It is almost unfathomably their first away Premier League win since New Year’s Day. Their last six victories have now come by two goals or more – when they click, they bloody well click – but this fairweather side has suffered intermittent downpour over the past nine months.

“It is about quality and we need to improve the quality and depth of our squad,” he said this week. “It was probably in that last period we lost some of our players of quality then in order to rotate we didn’t have that necessary depth. It is an area we want to improve.”

Ndidi at centre-half underlined that point, although the introduction of James Maddison and Marc Albrighton as substitutes in between a couple of late Jamie Vardy penalties suggested the attacking options remain enviable.

But as ludicrous as their transfer market sorcery has been, regardless of the manager’s identity over the last half-decade, Leicester cannot afford to waste the opportunity it presents. This squad will suffer for the advent of Europa League football without further investment before the October 5 deadline. It barely held together under the strain of nine matches in 36 days over the summer.

This was at least a reminder that they would be adding to genuine talent throughout the spine, a team that was never quite as good as its best nor as bad as its worst last season.

Even the opening goal was created and scored by Leicester’s two most recent permanent first-team signings. Castagne arrived from Atalanta for £21m on September 3; Praet left Sampdoria for the Midlands in an £18m deal on August 8. Last year.

Belgium can wait 12 months and longer for Robson-Kanu-based retribution but clubs with such a gap in between additions are only asking for trouble. Rodgers knows Leicester are no different.

Matt Stead

 

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