Tactically speaking - Leicester City

An in-depth look at how West Ham United's first home match of the 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season could pan out
In-depth analysis of how Leicester City might attack this afternoon’s Barclays Premier League fixture, and how Angelo Ogbonna could be an influential figure for West Ham United – with WhoScored.com...

Leicester City

Effective is probably the best word to sum up Leicester City’s style of play, both in Claudio Ranieri’s first match in charge and under predecessor Nigel Pearson.

A week ago, the Foxes attempted 100 passes fewer than opponents Sunderland, while they were forced to make seven more clearances and seven more interceptions than the Black Cats.

Sunderland also won 25 aerial duels to Leicester’s 16, yet the latter ran out comfortable 4-2 opening-day winners at the King Power Stadium.

The main reason was that Ranieri’s Leicester were far more efficient when they had the ball then Dutchman Dick Advocaat’s Sunderland.

Despite having far less possession and far fewer touches, Leicester created far more scoring chances than Sunderland, unleashing 19 shots to eleven and seizing on repeated mistakes made by their opponents.

While the speedy England forward Jamie Vardy and his new strike partner, Japan international Shinji Okazaki, both caught the eye, it was Leicester’s wide men who caused the majority of the damage to Advocaat’s side.

In the first half, Leicester unleashed a staggering 82.9 per cent of their attacking raids in the wide thirds of the field, and just 17.1 per cent down the centre. At half-time, they led 3-0, despite enjoying just 46.3 per cent of possession.

On one flank, the hard-working Marc Albrighton provided two assists from his outstanding crosses, the first for Vardy and the second for fellow winger Riyad Mahrez.

Mahrez then used his own trickery to win a penalty, which he duly converted past Costel Pantilimon to make the game safe within 25 minutes. Seven minutes after half-time, he was the width of the post away from completing a hat-trick.

Then, to add the cherry to the icing on the top of the opening-day cake, Albrighton himself added the fourth to stem any Sunderland hopes of launching an unlikely late comeback.
So, what does last weekend’s Man of the Match Mahrez do so well when allowed to operate in wide areas. Well, quite a lot, actually!

The 26-year-old, who was deployed to less effect in a more central position under Pearson, has pace, skill, the ability to dribble and pass and shoot the ball accurately.

Playing ‘inverted’ on the right flank, Mahrez cut inside repeatedly onto his stronger left foot, causing havoc in the Sunderland defence and giving left wing-back Patrick van Aanholt nightmares.

Moments after Lee Catterrmole had fouled the Algerian for the penalty which led to Leicester’s third goal, the midfielder was substituted – after just 30 minutes.

Leicester are far from being a one or even two-man team, though.

At the back, Kasper Schmeichel is a solid, reliable goalkeeper. Robert Huth and Wes Morgan are both strong, uncompromising and experienced defenders, while full-backs Ritchie de Laet and Jeff Schlupp are underrated and provide decent support to the attack.

In midfield, Danny Drinkwater and Andy King are disciplined, while forward Vardy continues to impress with his willingness to run in behind whenever the opportunity arises.

Leicester may not challenge for a UEFA Champions League place, but their wingers will give Ranieri and the club’s supporters hope that they can fly to a comfortable mid-table finish come the season’s end.

Possible team: (4-4-2) Schmeichel, de Laet, Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, Mahrez, Drinkwater, King, Albrighton, Okazaki, Vardy

West Ham United

New signing Angelo Ogbonna produced a dominant performance in last Sunday's 2-0 opening-day Barclays Premier League victory at Arsenal.

Lining up alongside Winston Reid, the Italy international centre-back was booked early on, but ignored that setback to produce a fine debut in England's top flight. Incidentally, Ogbonna's foul on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the only free-kick he conceded in the whole match, showing that he quickly came to terms with the pace of the game.

In total, Ogbonna made a team-high four tackles, including a superbly-timed intervention to deny Olivier Giroud a clear shooting chance in the first half.

The 27-year-old also matched defensive partner Reid in making seven clearances as West Ham held the Gunners at arm's length, particularly when they came under pressure late on at the Emirates.

Ogbonna, who also blocked one shot, completed 74.2 per cent of his 31 passes, but it was work in stopping Arsenal, rather than in launching his own team on the attack, that played such a large part in West Ham's success in north London.

Ogbonna's performance earned him a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com score of 7.33 - one of a host of impressive displays put in by the men in Claret and Blue.

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