Monthly Archives: September 2015

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It features: An exclusive interview with Muzzy Izzet; a Review of the remarkable 2014-15 season; a look at our new kit; Twitter Watch; a Guide to the Premier League 2015-16; Farewell to Nigel Pearson; and Esteban Cambiasso; The Other Great Escape; The Fox Awards 2014-15; The Jon Holmes column; Foxed in the Head’s Bournemouth memories; John Hutchinson looks at City during World War II; the Best of Bentley’s Roof and your letters; and Fortysomething on Holiday…

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Muzzy Izzet Interview extract…

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FOX: Martin O’Neill’s four and a half seasons are rightly looked back on as a golden age, were you aware of how special it was at the time?

MI: It felt great. It was a special feeling knowing that on our day we could beat anyone. As soon as Martin left I never felt like that again. Our mindset under Martin was never ‘oh we might struggle today’. Never ever. We approached every single game home and away thinking we could win it.
With other managers I have played for there were days when it felt like a draw would be good enough. If you start playing for a draw, or thinking a draw is okay then you will start losing.

FOX: There were many good performances back then, but one match that stands out is the 5-2 win at home to Sunderland when Stan Collymore got a hat-trick. Everyone thought that it could be the start of something even better, but then Emile Heskey left for Liverpool soon after. How was that from your perspective? 

MI: I think for the first time I actually thought ‘this is easy. All the hard work we were doing in midfield, we now had two players up front who could cause real problems for the opposition defence and score goals. It is so hard to score at that level. To have someone banging goals in takes a lot of pressure off you defensively and changes the shape of the game. If you put a team under pressure for 25 minutes and you don’t take any of your chances, then you really feel the pressure when they start coming at you. That day it seemed like we were going to score every time we attacked. The other team have to change the way they are playing and they lose their shape and they become easier to play against and you can pick them off.
I thought then blimey if we can keep this team together what will next season be like? But it wasn’t to be.

FOX: Martin left for Celtic that summer, did you know that was likely to happen?

MI: Well, because he was doing so well he was always going to be linked with jobs and there were constant rumours. There was that game against Spurs when he was supposed to off to Leeds but he didn’t go. I didn’t appreciate how much the Celtic job meant to him with the Irish connection, but obviously it did and he couldn’t turn it down. It made it a little bit easier to take that he didn’t go to another Premier League club.

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Leicester out-gunned by Arsenal

Leicester City 2:5 Arsenal

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City’s unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of an impressive Arsenal side at the KPS on Saturday afternoon…

Claudio Ranieri made one change to his starting XI with Albrighton in for Inler.
Arsenal made a worryingly easy breakthrough early on but Ramsey’s shot was blocked by Huth and Cazorla’s follow-up saw a well placed De Laet clearing off the goal line.
City than had a couple of chances: Schlupp’s shot being well saved by Čech, before Vardy’s low drive took a slight deflection which saw it hit the foot of the right hand post.
Vardy converted his next chance, in the 13th minute. Kante won the ball from Ramsey in City’s area and fed it to Drinkwater, who sent Vardy in down the right. A good first touch with his head saw him cutting in towards goal before sending a superb finish round Čech.
City almost went two goals ahead five minutes later, but Vardy’s header from an Albrighton cross hit the crossbar.
Arsenal then swept upfield and Walcott was sent clear of the defence by Cazorla and his low finish past Schmeichel, crept just inside the far post.

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There was a controversial moment leading up to the Gunners taking the lead in the 33rd minute. As City broke forward both Okazaki and Vardy were brought down but referee Pawson waved play on. Bellerín then raced down the right flank and delivered a low cross that reached Sánchez at the far post, and he slotted home from close in to give Arsenal the lead.
The ref then further enraged the home crowd when Okazaki was dragged over by Mertesacker, but loud appeals were once again ignored.

Ranieri brought King on for  Okazaki for the second half, though it didn’t really work for City who couldn’t match some of their fine first half play.
Arsenal were looking very strong and extended their lead in the 57th minute when a clever lob from Özil teed up Sánchez for a header past Schmeichel from close in.

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Ulloa then came on for Albrighton and he set up a chance for King who missed the target with an ambitious drive.
Kramarić entered the fray in place of Drinkwater, but the Gunners further extended their lead with ten minutes remaining.
Sánchez made some room for himself on the edge of the area, before sending a precise shot low to Schmeichel’s right.
City pulled a goal back in the 89th minute when Kramarić was denied by Čech but Vardy was on hand to curl home a fantastic effort.
But any thoughts of yet another comeback were dismissed when Arsenal broke again and Monreal set up Giroud for the visitor’s fifth.

City’s unbeaten record was over, but surely Arsenal announced their title ambitions with a superb display of football.

Ranieri said of his players: “They showed the maximum character. I understand it’s difficult to play a team who use one or two touches. It’s impossible, when you go to press they move the ball very quickly. The quality of the Arsenal players is a very high level. We tried to do our best and created good chances, some were unlucky, and it’s important how we react in the next match.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, Kanté, Drinkwater (Kramarić 78), Mahrez, Albrighton (Ulloa 64), Okazaki (King 46), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Simpson, Inler, Dodoo.
Arsenal: Čech, Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey (Oxlade-Chamberlain 77), Özil, Cazorla, Flamini (Arteta 21), Sánchez, Walcott (Giroud 80). Subs Not Used: Debuchy, Gibbs, Ospina, Chambers

Referee: C Pawson. Attendance: 32,047 (3,350).

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Leicester still unbeaten as Hammers are hurdled in the League Cup

Leicester City 2:1 West Ham United (a.e.t.)

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Goals from Dodoo and King eventually sealed a League Cup win for City against a near-full strength West Ham side at the KPS on Tuesday night.

Although Claudio Ranieri made ten changes to the starting eleven that drew at Stoke it would be harsh to call them a weakened side. As at Bury, they passed the test and proved that City have great strength in depth, which should stand them in good stead this season.
City went ahead in the 6th minute, with Dodoo netting his fourth goal in two appearances. Obiangs’ clearance struck Kramarić and the ball fell nicely for Dodoo, whose measured shot gave Adrian no chance.
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In what was already an end to end game Moses and Tomkins went close for the the visitors, before City should have gone further ahead. Kramarić left Collins for dead with a superb piece of skill, but then his attempted lob of keeper Adrian ended up dropping tamely into his hands.
Instead, it was the Hammers who found the net in the 26th minute when Zarate’s shot from the edge of the area took a big deflection off Wasilewski to beat Schwarzer.
Although Dodoo went close just before the break, the sides went in all-square.

As City went in search of a winner in the second half the chances mounted up. Albrighton had an effort blocked by Adrian’s legs; and then King saw his shot blocked. Adrain was having a fine game and was equal to both a well-placed Ulloa header and a Fuchs free-klick.
Although Schlupp, Mahrez and Kante were introduced into the action City couldn’t get the reward their play deserved and after 90 minutes the teams were still deadlocked.

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The chances for City continued to mount up in the first half of extra-time. Benalouane had the first effort, before Schlupp was then denied by Adrian in a one-on-one.
Ulloa then performed an excellent turn and shot, but just cleared the bar.
It looked as though City must surely go ahead at the end of the first period of extra time as Mahrez robbed Tomkins and raced clear, but Adrian again managed a fantastic block.
West Ham then had a big appeal for a spot-kick turned down when Simpson brought Noble down in the area. To add insult to injury an enraged Noble was given a yellow card for diving.
In the second period of extra time Adrian got down superbly to save a well struck Schlupp effort and thoughts began to turn to a penalty shoot-out. Would this be the only way to get past Adrian?
But with four minutes remaining, City finally managed to beat the Spanish keeper.
Fuchs delivered a fine cross from the left and King’s precise header saw the ball sailing beyond Adrian’s reach and into the net to spark wild celebrations.

City were into the fourth round of the League Cup, the unbeaten run continued, and several members of this side had made a strong claim to a first team place.

Leicester: Schwarzer, Simpson, Wasilewski, Benalouane, Fuchs, Dodoo (Kanté 82), King, Inler, Albrighton (Schlupp 67), Ulloa, Kramarić (Mahrez 82). Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, De Laet, Chilwell, Blyth.
West Ham: Adrian, Jenkinson, Tomkins, Collins, Cresswell, Obiang (Reid 113), Noble, Lanzini, Moses, Carroll (Payet 64), Zarate (Kouyate 76). Subs Not Used: Randolph, Oxford, Lee, Cullen.

Referee: Peter Bankes. Attendance: 21,268 (2,263).

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Another Leicester fightback earns a point at Stoke

Stoke City 2:2 Leicester City

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City are now the only unbeaten team in the Premier League after a second half comeback against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday…

Claudio Ranieri made one change to his side with Kanté replacing Marc Albrighton to give the side a slightly more defensive aspect, and City got off to a decent start angainst a Stoke side still seeking their first goal at home.
A Schlupp run down the right set up Mahrez for an early chance, but his curving shot was placed too close to Potters’ keeper Butland.
But it was the home side who scored that elusive goal in front of their own fans in the 13th minute.
Arnautovic turned and outpaced De Laet down the left before slipping a ball through to Bojan, who had ghosted through the City defence to find himself one on one with Schmeichel. He slotted home to the delight of the goal-starved home crowd.
Ranieri’s promise of pizza all-round for a clean sheet turned to crumbs.

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The Stoke fans only had to wait seven minutes for another goal as Morgan totally mis-cued a pass back to Schmeichel, gifting Walters a goal on a silver plate.
It could have been 3-0 at the break had a Stoke boot managed to connect with Cameron’s inviting low ball across the goalmouth.
Drinkwater and Kanté both went close with long range efforts, but City took a 2-0 deficit down the tunnel at half-time and the unbeaten run looked to be under threat.
Ranieri replaced Inler with Albrighton for the second half to give the side that attacking emphasis that they have for home games, and they were soon back in the match.
Five minutes into the second half Drinkwater pursued a Mahrez ball into the area and was sent tumbling by a clumsy Arnautovic challenge from behind.

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Mahrez stepped up to stroke the spot-kick into the bottom right hand corner, sending Butland the wrong way and returning to the top of the Premier League scoring chart with his fifth goal of the season.
Stoke now looked nervy and City were on top, going close to an equaliser in the 62nd minute.
Drinkwater sent Vardy in down the right and he lashed in a low shot which was blocked by Bultand at the near post.
Vardy seized on the rebound and set up Drinkwater who fired a shot narrowly off-target.
Ranieri then brought Ulloa on for Okazaki.
City then delighted their followers with a 69th minute leveller. With Stoke fans still outraged about a Morgan challenge on Walters, City broke swiftly upfield and a lofted ball from Mahrez sent Vardy in on goal. Despite the attentions of defender and goalkeeper Vardy managed to produce a finish that put City back on level terms.

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Stoke desperately sought a winner but Schmeichel produced fine saves to deny a Cameron header and a Shaqiri free-kick.
City had the final chance to wrap up three points but Vardy sent a shot inches wide and both sides had to be content with a point.

A point was enough to see City back in second place at that stage of the weekend and also set a new club record of 10 games unbeaten in the top flight.
Claudio revealed his half-time team talk: “At half-time I said, ‘Stoke is more desperate than us? That is not possible. Lose the match, but show our strength and show our pride. If we lose, we lose. It is not important, but I want to see how you react’.”

Stoke: Butland, Johnson, Cameron, Wilson, Pieters, Whelan, Van Ginkel (Ireland 79), Shaqiri, Bojan (Odemwingie 82), Arnautovic (Crouch 75), Walters. Subs Not Used: Given, Muniesa, Joselu, Wollscheid.
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, Kanté (King 86), Drinkwater, Inler (Albrighton 46), Mahrez, Okazaki (Ulloa 64), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Simpson, Kramarić, Benalouane, Schwarzer.

Referee: A Marriner. Attendance: 26,842 (2,887 away).

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Late Leicester comeback stuns Villa

Leicester City 3:2 Aston Villa

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City retained their unbeaten record and jumped back up to second place after storming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Villa at the KPS on Sunday…

Claudio Ranieri made two changes to his side, with Inler making his full debut and Okazaki regaining his starting place, with Kanté and King making way.
City’s whirlwind start saw Okazaki’s shot blocked before Drinkwater sent a long-range effort narrowly over the bar. But it was Villa who should have taken an early lead when Agbonlahor burst down the left and then tried to set up Sinclair at the far post, but he arrived a fraction of a second late and only found the side-netting from point blank range.
Morgan then got his head to an Albrighton free-kick, but cleared the bar, before Mahrez curled an effort that didn’t test Guzan.
At the other end Schmeichel also made a comfortable save as Grealish failed to get any venom into his shot when well placed.
He had better luck with his next effort six minutes before the break. After City failed to clear from a corner the ball sat up for Grealish who lashed it past Schmeichel to give Villa the lead.
Despite a moment of magic from Mahrez when three Villa defenders fell under his spell and hit the floor at the same time City couldn’t make an impression on a solid Villa defence and were trailing by a goal at the break.

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Deadline-day signing Dyer replaced Okazaki for the second half and Mahrez moved to the centre, taking on the Villa defence at every opportunity, but sometimes hanging on to the ball for too long.
City pressed forward constantly: the quick-thinking Vardy sent a back-heel inches wide of the near post and then Mahrez’s mazy run through the visitors’ defence was halted by a Lescott clearance.
But it was Villa who extended their lead hitting City on the break in the 63rd minute. Agbonlahor charged down the left and crossed for Gil who beat Schmeichel with a perfect curling shot from the edge of the area.
Ranieri acted immediately, bringing Kante and Ulloa on for Inler and Albrighton, in what turned out to be an inspired change.
Ulloa’s first touch saw him head a Drinkwater cross narrowly wide and City gained a fresh momentum and Kante broke up Villa’s play.
City’s comback began with 17 minutes left on the clock. De Laet got his head to a Mahrez corner and it was a foot over the  line when Westwood headed it out. The linesman signalled a goal and it was game on.

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After wave after wave of attacking football City netted an equaliser with eight minutes to go.
A fantastic run from Drinkwater, combining with Mahrez, was capped with a low, hard cross which Vardy slid in to level the  game.
City weren’t content with a point and continued to press forward, gaining their reward in the 89th minute.
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Mahrez played a ball down the middle and Dyer pursued it with no thought for his own safety, launching himself despite the considerable form of Guzan coming out to meet him fast.
He just got his head to the ball to nudge it home before a collision that left him flat out.
After a moment’s concern for his safety, and also concern that the erratic Mike Dean might find reason to rule it out, the goal was confirmed and the City fans were celebrating a famous victory, thanks to the bravery of the debutante.

The three points moved City up to second place and broke the club record for unbeaten games in the Premier League.
Claudio Ranieri summed up: “At 2-0 I look at my players and they still believe it is possible. That is the spirit I love. The players believed in something good as a group and that is what I want.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, Mahrez, Drinkwater, Inler (Kanté 64), Albrighton (Ulloa 64), Okazaki (Dyer 46), Vardy. Subs Not Used: King, Simpson, Kramarić, Schwarzer.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Richards, Bacuna (Hutton 86), Sinclair, Agbonlahor (Gestede 74), Westwood, Lescott, Amavi, Sánchez, Gil (Ayew 65), Grealish. Subs Not Used: Clark, Veretout, Richardson, Bunn.

Referee: M Dean. Attendance: 31, 733.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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