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Leicester City answer (some) questions about fragile mentality with vital Man Utd win

Leicester City showed signs of strengthened mentality in 2-1…

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leicester city answer some questions about fragile mentality with vital man utd win
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Amid all the congratulations sent Manchester City’s way for their title victory, the magnitude of Leicester’s 2-1 win over Manchester United was somewhat lost.

For the Foxes, this was by far and away the biggest result of their season so far. Going into the contest, a darkness was slowly descending on their season like an oil spill, with a 4-2 defeat to Newcastle United last time out seriously denting their Champions League hopes.

Wesley Fofana
The pressure was on Leicester after a poor loss to Newcastle | Michael Regan/Getty Images

There was also a crushing sense of deja vu. Last season Leicester ended 30 consecutive gameweeks inside the top four, only to drop out on the final day of the season. Prior to the United match, they had spent 19 straight gameweeks in the Champions League spots this campaign, and the Newcastle loss suggested that another late collapse could be incoming.

Many have put Leicester’s back-to-back feeble finishes down to a weak mentality. In other words, an inability to handle pressure that may come from the very top. Brendan Rodgers has previous for, ahem, letting things slip, you see. On the evidence of the Foxes’ last two results – the other was a 1-1 draw against ten-man Southampton – this assessment is not unfair.

However, on Tuesday night they answered some of their doubters with a gutsy second-half display that earned them a priceless three points – not that it was plain sailing throughout.

Things started well enough with Leicester getting at United’s makeshift team in wide areas and depriving them of space in midfield. They would be rewarded for their bright beginning as well, with the impressive Luke Thomas cushioning a brilliant first-time volley into the top corner for his first Premier League goal inside ten minutes.

Soon after a lack of concentration and a poor bit of goalkeeping from Kasper Schmeichel allowed United to equalise through Mason Greenwood. For the rest of the first half, Leicester played like a team scared to make a mistake. Wilfred Ndidi was hesitant to receive the ball from the Foxes’ back three, Ayoze Perez was hiding between the lines and even the best player of all-time, Kelechi Iheanacho, was struggling to influence things.

After the break things changed almost immediately. There were no tactical alterations to speak of – what we were witnessing was a mentality shift. The tempo increased, players wanted the ball and United were not given an inch.

Caglar Soyuncu, Kelechi Iheanacho
Leicester worked hard for their win after the break | Pool/Getty Images

Iheanacho had an effort very well saved from David de Gea and United had their backs to the wall for much of the opening exchanges. They could not keep the rampant Foxes out forever, though, and Caglar Soyuncu – who has come in for his fair share of criticism of late – popped up with a heroic, back-post header to secure victory.

United’s team selection may have done everything short of facing charges of bringing the game into disrepute to help Leicester at Liverpool’s expense in the top four race, but this Foxes side had just lost to Steve Bruce’s Newcastle. Having the bottle to get the job done is still worthy of praise.

Realistically, all Leicester need to do now is win one of their remaining games against Chelsea or Tottenham to make absolutely sure of a top four spot. If Liverpool continue to be bafflingly average, they probably won’t even have to do that. Dilly ding, dilly dong.

Source: 90 Mins

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