Jamie Vardy enjoyed another day out at the Hawthorns as he scored two of Leicester’s three goals against the Albion this afternoon.
The Baggies started the game playing a system not usually employed by Bilic. Away from the usual 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 that dominated matches last season, Bilic looked to bolster the defence by deploying three central defenders and the use of wing backs.
West Brom began with more intent than the visitors who were slow to get up to speed.
Furlong, in the role of RWB, was finding plenty of space down the right side of the pitch. A few searching diagonal balls found him; on one occasion he was taken down on the edge of the box by James Justin in what was a vital sacrifice by the Leicester fullback who had lost his man. The resulting free-kick ended in a corner after Pereira saw his effort blocked.
As the half went on the Foxes grew in confidence. Former Albion loanee Harvey Barnes had a flurry of chances which he should really have dispatched. Both efforts were straight at Johnstone who parried away with little concern.
Half time couldn’t come quick enough for the Baggies as Vardy had his first real chance in front of goal. Johnstone was equal to the effort and the offside flag was eventually raised.
The final chance of the half came to Pereira who was fed in neatly by Livermore only to see his low cross dealt with on the six yard box.
Bilic was definitely the happier of the two managers with Leicester probably feeling like they should be ahead. Livermore putting in a captain’s shift to set the tone. Diangana and Furlong also looked lively.
Leicester carried on from where they left off. They opened the scoring fifty-seven minutes in after Castagne, on his debut, met Praet’s cross to head home from close range.Embed from Getty Images
Bilic responded quickly with a change upfront that saw Robinson make way for Robson-Kanu.
Little changed as Leicester continued to pile on the pressure. Vardy was brought down off the ball by Bartley for a penalty which he dispatched clinically.
Albion reverted back to 4-2-3-1 with the introduction of Edwards and Harper for Furlong and a dejected Sawyers who put in a poor showing.
Justin was then brought down in the box by O’Shea and Vardy converted again in emphatic style to Johnstone’s right hand side.Embed from Getty Images
After what was a promising start to the game with a well-coordinated first half, the Baggies were undone by Leicester’s persistence in attack. Sloppy lapses of concentration led to two penalties which could have been avoided.
It was always going to be a tough start to the season against a strong Leicester side. Bilic will be encouraged by a few things but with Albion managing just one shot on target it is evermore apparent that a goalscorer needs to be brought in.
Furlong’s athleticism down the right bodes well for the season. Pereira and Diangana showed glimpses of what might be to come against the weaker teams. In central midfield Livermore put in a gritty performance to make up for Sawyers’ lack of tempo and sharpness. Defensive mistakes from O’Shea and Bartley tarnished Albion’s first-half performance.
Whilst it is too early to panic just yet, West Brom fielded 10 players who started the final game of last season in the Championship. With the transfer window still open it has to be a time to twist rather than stick, otherwise it could be a very long season.
Match Ratings: Johnstone (6), O’Shea (4), Ajayi (5), Bartley (4), Furlong (7), Livermore (6), Sawyers (3) , Gibbs (5), Pereira (6), Diangana (6), Robinson (5). Subs: Robson-Kanu (5), Harper (5), Edwards (5).
WBA: Johnstone, O’Shea, Ajayi, Bartley, Furlong (Edwards 68′), Livermore (c), Sawyers (Harper 68′), Gibbs, Pereira, Diangana, Robinson (Robson Kanu 59′).
Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Ndidi, Söyüncü, Castagne, Mendy, Praet (Maddison 70′), Tielemans, Pérez (Albrighton 67), Barnes, Vardy.