Leicester City 1 - West Bromwich Albion 2
Eleven shots, five of them on target, two goals from open play and three points away from home against the Premier League champions who hadn't lost at their ground for well over a year. Nobody's quite sure who that team in blue and white were but they all want to see more of them.
With James McClean suspended and Nacer Chadli recovering from surgery, Chris Brunt and James Morison started the game with Jonny Evans returning to his best position at centre half. Albion's efforts ensured that the home side ended the first half having had no shots on target and brought Jamie Vardy on at half time in response.
The game burst into to life early after the break when Matt Phillips crossed for Morrison to head home from a box packed with players. The lead was short lived, however, with Islam Slimani heading Riyad Mahrez's cross home just three minutes later. But a dreadful mistake by Danny Drinkwater let Phillips use his pace and with just the keeper to beat his calm finish to win the game belied the fact that it was the first time his name had appeared on the scoresheet for two years.
Having sunk to seventeenth thanks to other results over the weekend, Albion go into the International break in eleventh place with thirteen points from eleven games.
Not looking good before the game as Teams below us had won. Even Sick Vic scored and got MOTM , but did pick up a rib injury so that's him out for 6 weeks!
Then when Leicester scored with an offside goal(AGAIN) I really thought we would not win for the 4th time this season after going ahead.
To be fair to Pulis he went with a Team most would have selected with the possible exception of Fletcher.
This included Morrison who for a very long time now I have believed is our best player. I haven't understood why we have not played him more often after he recovered from his injury, because even in the few moments he has been on the pitch this season( i.e Stoke Away) ,he has made a positive difference. After today he surely now needs to be the first name on the team sheet.
A very welcome performance and victory. Where did it come from? Over his tenure Pulis has had a habit of doing this and it is probably the most frustrating thing about him as a manager. That is; when we need a result or have nothing to lose from a game, we'll start all guns blazing, play at a very high tempo, press high and aggressively all over the pitch and when we do attack we'll do so in numbers that make a difference.
And it's completely understandable that he'd choose to do it against Leicester when we're at the end of a tough run and they've had a tough trip away in Europe.
I just wish he'd do it more. I'm fairly certain that playing like this every week would yield more than his safety-first attritional style - that has never seen him relegated - when you take into account the quality of players and league experience he has in the squad. We don't need to approach every game like an underdog. I'm also fairly certain that this style of play would get some of those blue seats at the Hawthorns filled.
Anyway - it was a performance to be proud of and everyone at the club should take credit for it.
Over a quarter into the season the league is panning out to be really tough. It doesn't look like a season where teams outside the top six will be able to make too many slip-ups. More of this please.
Subs - not really worth marking but I'd love to have seen Leko as a break option with 15 minutes to go. I was worried we'd be victim to another late equaliser when Gardner was introduced to invite pressure onto us.
Pulis breaks "champions" hoodoo
Have to confess to only seeing the second half of this one, having joined the coverage as we were being told that Leicester were bringing on Vardy for the second-half after failing to register any attempts, let alone a shot on target in the first, which suggested the Pulis Plan had been executed to perfection. I should further confess that I still have not bothered to watch the first half as yet.
Despite ending the period level, Albion would have much the better of the first ten minutes although both sides would conjure up poor deliveries as they swapped corners early on, in a surprisingly open passage of play.
Albion appeared to be lining up with right-winger Phillips coming in for the suspended McClean on the left and left-winger/back Brunt on the right, with Mozza completing the midfield five by playing, in the absence of the out-for-repairs Chadli's role, slightly ahead of Fetcher and the returning-from-suspension Yacob, however it would be a short term switching of Phillips to the right, albeit merely to take a free-kick, that would see him play a big part in the away side taking the lead.
Following that free-kick, Rondon had dropped into the centre-circle and, for a man of his build, showed some neat skill in flicking the ball over his head before leaving it to Morrison to dictate play, by instantly switching that play wide to Phillips, who still hadn't made his way back to the left and so his inviting right-foot cross was met, at full tilt by Morrison, now breaking into the box, and the header from the edge of the six-yard-box gave the keeper no chance.
Four minutes later though and from a similar move, one with the scorer initially spreading it out wide before getting into the box to meet the returned ball, Slimani would be given the freedom of the six-yard box to head home Mahrez's cross.
Having lost the lead to some very sloppy defending, Albion were then in no mind to lose the point and there followed a period of Leicester running amok down the flanks as Musa and Mahrez gave, respectively, Dawson and Nyom an absolute torrid time, however, good covering from our inside centre-backs, McAuley and Evans, respectively, was just about enough to stem the tide, although Phillips, still out on the right in front of Nyom, and Morrison, through the middle, would occasionally look dangerous on the break.
With twenty minutes to go though, Rondon, ever the tireless runner, both laterally and up and down the middle within the space between himself and his distant midfield, would once again make a nuisance of himself near the centre-circle, although as the ball fell to Drinkwater, any chance of an attack developing seemed to have gone, however, Phillips, standing all alone on the goalside of three Leicester defenders showed great awareness, as Drinkwater shaped for a backpass, and so was already moving onto what became a defence splitting pass when Drinkwater miss-hit his intended ball. For a player who is supposedly low on confidence, Phillips, advancing at more than enough pace into the box to leave Morgan floundering would only needed two touches over the thirty yards of his run, the second of which saw him lift the ball over the horribly exposed home keeper to restore the away side's lead.
If Albion had been way off the standards expected of them in keeping their defensive shape in the wake of their first goal, they certainly made up for that now, with Phillips and Brunt switching to the correct wing for their footedness, so as to better afford cover for full-backs now constantly being run at by Leicester's pacey wide players, although it would be Drinkwater, dribbling through, Leko-like, on the right who would come the closest to setting up the chance of a second equaliser.
Albion's ever mounting yellow-card total would gain another couple of additions from the later stages of this game as they tried to stem the Leicester tide by fair means or foul, first Gardner, on for Phillips to offer extra right-flank cover blatantly pulling back whoever had sped past him near the half-way line, and then Brunt, who marred an otherwise good showing, in kicking the ball away from a throw-in which went out at a similar distance away from our goal.
Both cards will have been professionally accepted though, as Albion hung on to continue their excellent record in the East Midlands, whilst also, apparently, handing the manager his first ever win against a side who had been champions the previous season - yet another positive from a second half that had a number of them, not least the showing of Phillips who got the MotM trophy from the commentary team.
Albion move up from the middle of three teams on 10 from 10 sitting in equal fifteenth, to the middle of three teams on 13 from 11 who now, ahead of the international break, sit in equal tenth.
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