Jermaine Beckford is likely to make his Leicester debut today, so what should City fans expect (apart from, say, 20 goals)?
It is odd to think that this will be Beckford’s first Championship appearance since Boxing Day 2006. He might never have scored at this level, but Beckford’s goalscoring record in League One was indisputable and, if his solo effort against Chelsea at the end of last season is anything to go by, he still has something very special in his locker. So to better understand how Beckford will fit into Sven’s setup, it is useful to look at how Everton employed him.
Taking a look at some of Beckford’s recent starts for the Toffees, the most striking thing is how often he was used as an outlet ball. In these three examples from matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn and Chelsea, rarely does Beckford receive a pass that has taken less than 20 yards to reach him. Sometimes he receives the ball from very deep, at other times the ball is from midfield in an attempt to turn defenders with a killer pass. It is worth noting too that unlike his former Everton counterpart Yakubu, Beckford receives the ball across the pitch giving his teamates options off the ball.
The way Beckford uses the ball in possession is also pretty interesting. In this example below against Wolves just one pass (the kick-off) goes forward, everything else is backward or square.
Here, a week later against Blackburn, only one of his forward passes is successful, but just one of his passes backward or square fails. Perhaps Sven will be encouraging Beckford to be conservative with the ball, especially with Leicester playing away from home.
But it is when Beckford has scoring opportunities that Leicester fans will be most keen to know how effective their new striker will be. The good news for Beckford is goalscoring opportunities will be more forthcoming in the Championship and he won’t need to resort to pot-shots from range like the ones we see below against Chelsea and Wolves. It would be difficult to bet against Beckford netting a good proportion of his opportunities at Leicester if, like Everton’s players, his teammates can carve his opportunities from within 12 yards.
So we can expect pace, the opportunity for Leicester to counter-attack quickly, some off the ball runs begging for a through-ball from Andy King and, of course, goals. No pressure, eh?
The charts above were all created using the superb Stats Zone app by FourFourTwo and Opta. You can read more about the app here.