Burnley – Leicester: The Foxes were lackluster and languid as they settled for a disappointing 1-1 draw with the Clarets at Turf Moor on Wednesday.
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The result will go down as a heavy blow to Leicester’s case in the race for second in the Premier League (level on points with Manchester United, having played one more game) as they drop points for the third time in five games. Burnley, meanwhile, will take the point and climb that much more above the relegation zone (now six points clear).
3 things we learned: Burnley – Leicester
1. Injuries, fatigue troubling Leicester: Already without four starters for Wednesday’s game, the remaining Foxes appeared nearly out of gas for much of the first half. Burnley are well-known as a hard-working side in their own right, but the gulf in work rate and sharpness were too stark to ignore. The mistake which led to Burnley’s opener was as much a mental mistake as it was tired legs — both of which contribute to puzzling sequences of casual indifference. In the end, falling out of the Europa League probably won’t be the worst thing to ever happen to Brendan Rodgers’ side.
2. Vardy’s influence missing, perhaps waning: Jamie Vardy, Leicester’s longtime talisman and the figurehead of eight seasons of joyful success at the King Power Stadium, touched the ball seven times in the first half. Four of those touches came either inside his own half of the field or the center circle, one was near the corner flag and the other two occurred somewhat centrally in the penalty area. There’s being uninvolved, and then there’s Vardy’s first-half involvement. By full-time, Vardy’s touches rose to an equally disappointing 16th, including his only shot of the game in the 89th minute.
3. Burnley make the most of aerial supremacy: Leicester were more than a little light on aerial presence with Wilfred Ndidi forced into central defense, and Burnley looked to make the most of it on numerous occasions. If not for a stellar performance from Kasper Schmeichel to deny a handful of headed chances, they would have taken all three points.
Leicester were the sole architects of Burnley’s opening goal in the 4th minute, as Hamza Choudhury gave the ball away 25 yards from his own goal. Vydra read the development and pounced on the wayward ball, cutting onto his left foot and hammering the finish past Schmeichel.
Choudhury had a golden opportunity to atone for his mistake in the 12th minute, but he somehow managed to put the ball just in reach of Nick Pope from close range. Timothy Castagne’s cross evaded every claret and blue shirt before finding Choudhury at the far post with Pope very much in no man’s land. The contact was weak and sent the ball into the ground, which only allowed Pope an extra split-second to recover and tip to the ball over the crossbar.
Leicester required a bit of time to find their way into the game, but Iheanacho made an incredibly difficult finish look incredibly easy to make it 1-1 in the 34th minute. Ndidi’s through ball was lofted over the midfield and in between two defenders for Iheanacho making a diagonal run into the penalty area. When the ball fell, Iheanacho struck with his left foot and sent it back across goal for an emphatic equalizer.
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Burnley looked set to retake the lead just two minutes later, but Schmeichel pulled off a fantastic reaction save to turn away James Tarkowski’s header from Dwight McNeil’s cross.
Schmeichel was even more fantastic three minutes into the second half. Chris Wood got on the end of a lofted cross and headed back across goal for what looked a certain goal. Alas, Schmeichel went full-stretch to get fingertips on the ball and tip it wide.
Leicester pushed more numbers forward as the game wore on, but in truth they created very little in terms of dangerous scoring chances and Burnley were thoroughly deserving of their point.