Leicester – Brighton was precisely the performance and result Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes required to re-assert themselves as top-four contenders at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
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James Maddison scored twice, Jamie Vardy bagged a goal of his own, and Leicester cruised into third place in the Premier League table, one point behind Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. On a weekend that saw the top of the table’s traditional “big” sides drop points, Leicester were hugely impressive.
Brighton, meanwhile, remain 16th in the table and are looking increasingly troubled with just two wins all season and seven points from their last nine PL games.
3 things we learned: Leicester – Brighton
1. Leicester doing it a different way: For the majority of Rodgers’ time as manager, Leicester have essentially been a one-trick pony: defend deep, win the ball back, send it into space for Vardy to run onto and beat the goalkeeper one-on-one. On Sunday, for one day at least, Leicester scored twice with the Brighton defense fully set inside their own half. It’s only one game, and against a relegation-threatened side, but it’s positive progress nonetheless.
2. No more excuses for Brighton: The Seagulls have been the Premier League darlings of expected goals (xG) for going on a season and a half now, yet Graham Potter’s side continues to fall woefully short of where they “should,” or might otherwise be. Putting aside their attractive playing style and adherence to generally accepted positive practices, Brighton simply fail to finish the job far too often. At a certain point, the table isn’t lying and you are who it says you are. The foundation is there, but will they ever make anything of it without a transcendent star to bring it all together?
Brighton had the game’s first scoring chance in the 6th minute, and Kasper Schmeichel had to do react quickly to keep Leicester on level terms. Solly March raced down the left flank and cut the ball back for Alireza Jahanbakhsh near the top of the box. Jahanbakhsh’s shot had plenty of power behind it, but lacked a bit of placement, allowing Schmeichel to get two hands behind it.
Leicester needed 15 or 20 minutes to find their footing as Brighton presented plenty of early problems. Once they found their way into the game, the Foxes seized firm control and went 1-0 ahead in the 27th minute. Jamie Vardy had the initial chance but couldn’t get a shot off as Brighton defended desperately, only for the ball to fell to Maddison, who sent a cushioned finish through a sea of bodies and under the unsuspecting Mat Ryan.
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Vardy got his goal 13 minutes later, and he won’t score many — if any — easier goals this season. James Justin provided the inch-perfect cross for Vardy to poke past Ryan for 2-0. There were suspicions of Vardy being offside, but video review confirmed he was perfectly level with the ball when Justin played it.
Maddison’s second goal barely 60 seconds after the restart, and this was the peach of a prodigious first-half performance. He looked for space left and right, eventually cut back inside onto his left foot and unleashed a stunning curler that Ryan was never getting close to saving.