Let’s forget about the opening 45 minutes on Saturday and focus on everything that happened after that, it’s been pretty spot on. Leicester have begun in a manner you would hope will hold them in good stead for the rest of the season. They’ve already repeated their oft-performed trick from League One of coming from behind, and professionally dispatched modest opposition in the cup. So far, so good.
The Week That Was
Martin Waghorn became the first Leicester player to score on his debut since Les Ferdinand put one past Southampton in the opening game of Leicester’s last Premier League campaign. In the six intervening years both Matty Fryatt and Steve Howard have scored on their home debuts, but neither became an instant hero.
Chris Powell started his 32nd League Cup tie in what his now his 22nd season in professional football. By contrast his colleagues in the back four o Tuesday night had amassed just 5 League Cup starts between them. City’s back line wasn’t heavily tested at Moss Rose but did earn their first clean sheet of the season. Nigel Pearson’s men managed 19 shutouts in the league and 24 in all competitions in 2008/09.
Leicester face two sides who would have expected better from their opening matches this week. First City head to Portman Road, a ground where they’ve won just once in their last 13 league visits. Roy Keane’s men, one of only four sides to lose on the opening weekend, found themselves needing penalties to dispose of Shrewsbury this week. Paint will be peeling from the Ipswich dressing room walls if they fail to perform on Saturday.
Ipswich season ticket holders must have felt cheated by their side last season. Having finished 2007/08 with the best home record in the Championship, the Tractor Boys could only manage the 15th highest ranking in 2008/09. Crucially, Ipswich beat only one of the eight sides who finished above them last season at Portman Road. Not exactly a fortress to be feared.
City don’t have a great record at Bramall Lane, a 3-1 victory in 1995 has been the Foxes’ only success here in 30 years. But if Port Vale can win here then who knows?
Some people dismiss early season results as meaningless – Sheffield United fans do not. On the opening day last season the Blades travelled to Birmingham City and lost thanks to a 90th minute strike from Kevin Phillips. The difference between the two sides at the end of the season was, you guessed it, three points. Had Kevin Blackwell’s defence kept a clean sheet that day it would have been the Blades opening the season at Old Trafford thanks to their superior goal difference.
Sheffield United haven’t lost a home league game since the Steel City Derby in February, in only one of the matches following that defeat did they fail to score. United’s defensive record is also solid, the second best in the Championship last year. City will need a strong performance to take points away from the divisions 4th favourites.
On This Day – 15th August
Martin O’Neill’s side stunned the Premier League on the opening day of the 1998/99 season by taking a two-goal lead at Old Trafford. Emile Heskey and Tony Cottee silenced the Stretford End only for a deflected Teddy Sheringham effort and a stoppage time David Beckham special to deny Leicester victory.