Three things we learned from Fulham - Leicester
Fulham - Leicester saw the Foxes rally to keep their top four hopes alive, while the Cottagers are entrenched in a relegation battle as their long winless run continues.
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First half goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and James Justin did the damage, as Leicester were more dangerous throughout and Brendan Rodgers’ side bounced back from their defeat to Leeds.
Leicester sit in third place on 42 points, five points off league leaders Man City, while Fulham sit in 18th place on 14 points and are still a long way from safety despite improved displays from Scott Parker’s side.
Three things we learned
1. Maddison steps up in Vardy’s absence: We all know who Leicester’s talisman is, but Jamie Vardy has been missing and James Maddison is stepping up. Big time. He grabbed the assists on both of their goals as everything the Foxes did went through the England international. He has talked about upping his stats with goals and assists and he’s doing that, as well as finding space to be an outlet when Leicester need him. He plays deeper than Vardy, but he’s proving he can one day be just as effective.
2. Squad depth key for Leicester: Can they keep this top four push going? Absolutely. Leicester have dealt with defensive injuries all season long and have overcome them, while Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi are both out and they are key for the Foxes. That means Choudhury, Kelechi Iheanacho and Caglar Soyuncu (recently replaced as a regular by Wesley Fofana) are key, as Rodgers needs his fringe players to keep their top four push on track.
3. Fulham’s balance too defensive: They haven’t won any of their last 11 games (scoring just six goals in that stretch) but Scott Parker has improved Fulham defensively. However, they’ve swung the pendulum too far towards defend. Previously they were suspect at the back but fun and bubbly in attack. They now lack any creative fizz going forward and their Premier League bubble looks set to burst. Along with West Brom and Sheffield United, they are in real danger of being cut adrift at the bottom of the table. They have won twice all season long, and now is the time for Parker to let his players run free as they have a run of four winnable games which look like being pivotal.
Man of the Match: Kelechi Iheanacho - Brilliant display from the Nigerian striker who scored the first with a wonderful header and set up the move for the second with an outrageous turn. Truly did his part to lessen the impact of Vardy being out injured.
Both teams had half chances early on Aleksandar Mitrovic made a nuisance of himself up top.
But Leicester’s main man up top gave them the lead. Iheanacho headed home a perfect cross from James Maddison to give the Foxes a platform to build from.
Caglar Soyuncu was denied by Alphonse Areola as Leicester pinned Fulham in their own half for the remainder of the first half, as Soyuncu also nodded home but Jonny Evans was penalized for a push and the goal was ruled out.
Right on half time Fulham were denied as Tosin Adarabioyo had a header tipped over by Kasper Schmeichel, but then Leicester went straight up the other end and scored after a brilliant turn from Iheanacho found Maddison.
Maddison played in Justin who rounded Areola to make it 2-0, and Barnes was denied by Areola as the Foxes threatened to run away with things.
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In the second half Fulham pushed to get back in the game as Ivan Cavaleiro and Ademola Lookman both went close.
Mitrovic went down in the box looking for a penalty kick, but nothing was given.
Ricardo Pereira thought he had scored but Marc Albrighton was offside when he played him in, but it didn’t matter as Leicester eased to victory in west London, as Bobby Decordova Reid had a shot deflected into the side-netting as he came close.
Fulham now have just one win in their last 12 games and are in serious danger of being cut adrift in the relegation zone.