Leicester City spoiled Claudio Ranieri’s return to the King Power Stadium, thrashing Watford 4-2 in the Premier League on Sunday.
The hosts took an early lead thanks to a Watford error when William Troost-Ekong bafflingly chose to duck under a lofted long ball, allowing Leicester’s James Maddison to strike it home under no pressure. The visitors responded well and levelled 14 minutes later after Wilfred Ndidi clumsily tripped Emmanuel Dennis in the box, and Joshua King made no mistakes from 12 yards out to beat Kasper Schmeichel.
Watford looked bright in spells, but Leicester reclaimed the lead against the run of play, with Jamie Vardy handing the away side a double blow inside eight minutes. The veteran was set free on goal with a well-weighted pass by Maddison, which he finished deftly before smartly heading home from a corner kick from the Englishman to make it 3-1 heading into half-time.
The snowy conditions worsened the visibility in the second half. This resulted in a distorted 45 minutes, with players struggling to keep possession of the ball. Dennis stole the ball from a backpedalling Timothy Castagne and dinked it over Schmeichel, making it 3-2. Leicester regained their two-goal advantage minutes later when Harvey Barnes sprinted forward on a counter before squaring the ball for Ademola Lookman to tap into an open goal to put the game beyond Watford’s reach.
The result moves Leicester up to tenth place with 18 points from 13 games, while Watford stay 16th on 13 points, four points clear of the relegation zone. After a goal-fest at a snowy King Power Stadium, The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over Brendan Rodgers’ men.
Kasper Schmeichel: 6/10
His kicking was abysmal, but he made a few crucial saves. There was some communication problem with Jonny Evans, but he produced a fine stop to deny Dennis in the first half. However, the Watford star outwitted him for the Hornets’ second goal.
Timothy Castagne: 5/10
Castagne’s combination play was neat as usual, and he made plenty of decent runs in behind down the right flank, but there were some defensive shortcomings. He felt he was fouled, but Dennis was too prompt for him to steal the ball for Watford’s second goal, while Cucho Hernandez shrugged him off easily for an earlier opportunity. The Belgian full-back launched the counter-attack for Leicester’s fourth goal.
Caglar Soyuncu: 7/10
The Turkish international put on a confident performance, winning most of his headers and defending with strength while being composed on the ball. Probably, one of his best performances of the season. He made no mistakes and completed several crucial interventions.
Jonny Evans: 7/10
He was arguably to blame for the misunderstanding that led to an argument between him and goalkeeper Schmeichel, but he didn’t let it bother him much. He played a delightful ball over the top for Maddison’s opener and won a splendid tackle to stop a turnover, but the pace of King and Dennis caused him some problems. Evans finished with a match-high seven tackles.
Luke Thomas: 7/10
Another mature and impressive performance from the young left-back, who managed to win back-post headers, drew free-kicks, jettisoned for the ball in tight spaces, and then carried it forward with bursts of energy, contributing to the fourth goal. He performed admirably in adverse conditions. He is making huge strides game by game.
Boubakary Soumare: 6/10
Soumare had a pretty good evening at the heart of the midfield and worked well with the defenders. He constantly got on the ball but gave away possession cheaply at times. He improved in the second half, which he needed to do because after having made some questionable decisions with the ball at his feet in the first half.
Wilfred Ndidi: 6/10
He can be all limbs at times, and he made a late challenge on Dennis that cost Leicester a penalty in the first half. Even if it was a close call, he really shouldn’t have charged in rashly. Aside from that, it was the usual Ndidi performance, with tackles and interceptions thrown in all over the place. The Nigerian ended with three tackles and five interceptions.
James Maddison: 9/10
James Maddison vs Watford by numbers:
88 minutes played
2 shots on target
3 succ dribbles
23 acc. passes
76% pass rate
5 key passes
3 succ crosses
4 ground duels won
3 aerial duels won
Magical performance pic.twitter.com/MxkwIPx6oo
— JM10 (@SublimeMadders) November 28, 2021
He has regained his swagger. Maddison’s passing was on another level in what was overall a classy display. He made an excellent run and finished with poise for the first goal. He then chipped a lovely pass over the top for the second and scooped in a dangerous corner kick leading to the third. One of the most entertaining players to watch when in form. This was by far his best performance of the season. This must be done on a regular basis from now on.
Ademola Lookman: 6.5/10
Lookman finally scored his first Premier League goal in a Leicester shirt. It marked another decent performance for the loanee, who rushed around the pitch all day, penetrating dangerous areas. He constantly caused troubles on the right flank, but his passes in the final third didn’t quite come off as much he would have liked. But he was in the right place at the right time to seal the game for his side.
Jamie Vardy: 9/10
The first goal was classic Vardy, who ran in behind the defender and scored with minimal fuss, making a difficult finish look simple. The second displayed his excellent game reading and sharpness as well. He gave the two Watford centre-backs a run for their money. Vardy in full flow is one of the best strikers in the Premier League. Since turning 30, he has now scored 93 Premier League goals. Ageing like fine wine.
Harvey Barnes: 7/10
He gave the ball away while dribbling at the Watford defence early on but continued to work hard to get into better areas on the pitch. That resilience paid off ultimately in the second half when he ran into space beating his marker before setting up on a plate for Lookman to seal all three points for the Foxes.
Marc Albrighton: 6/10
Albrighton put in a decent shift for Leicester City after coming on as a substitute and added stability.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall: N/A
Didn’t play enough to warrant a rating.