This was the game nobody could afford to lose, as it's presumably both sides' easiest fixture from the opening three games. In the next two gameweeks, both play Arsenal and Chelsea, so a loss in this game would mean the likelihood of no points from a possible nine in this fresh Premier League campaign. Here are six things to pay attention to after this tight and entertaining draw that went down to the wire.
1) Push on from corners.
Stoke City were experts in this field under the leadership of Tony Pulis, and both sides at the King Power Stadium Saturday afternoon seemed to have taken some notes. When attacking through corner kicks, it's obviously an advantage to have a good crosser of the ball to put it in. Mixing some physical presence with heading ability is a well-known recipe as well. What Stoke were so good at, and both sides did successfully in this game, was to push on after the initial aerial challenge. Everton's opener came after Leighton Baines was absolutely determined to get the ball back into the box after a Leicester clearance. 95 seconds later, the Foxes lined up the lot of players inside the box, and Sylvain Distin was unable to clear past them, which led to Leonardo Ulloa bringing the sides level. Lesson learned: Get the ball into the box and do whatever you can to keep it there. Sooner or later, it's bound to cause a mayhem.
2) Centre-back havoc?
Both Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin seemed out of form in this game. Schmeichel's long kicks caused far more problems than they should have, and Leicester striker Leonardo Ollua was even close to exploiting it early on, but he didn't manage to get enough power into his finish. After 54 minutes, Ollua was close to bagging his brace after heading a cross from the left just wide. Ollua was put under next to no pressure by Phil Jagielka, who was supposed to mark him. The usually reliable centre-back duo appeared vulnerable, particularly for aerial threats. Taking Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo's quiet performance against Crystal Palace into account, an interesting physical battle between Olivier Giroud and Jagielka/Distin could be on the cards in gameweek two.
3) The Baines express
When tracking down the left wing, Everton's highly regarded left-back Leighton Baines does effectively work for two, allowing Steven Pienaar to operate as an added attacking midfielder next to Naismith. Obviously, the Dutchman co-operates well with Baines when returning to his chalkboard position as well, which proved vital in the build-up of Steven Naismith's goal and Everton's general game. Unfortunately for Everton, the fruitful Baines/Pienaar co-operation faded in the second half, even before the former Tottenham player was replaced by Kevin Mirallas.
4) Costly Toffee cruising
Despite dominating play and going in front twice before the interval, Everton took the foot off the pedal in the second half. The landmark of this was Leighton Baines, who, as mentioned, basically was a left winger in the first half. In the final 45 minutes, he barely entered Leicester's half. The fading of Everton's passing in the first half, which was very good on the eye at times, was closely linked to this. Whether it was down to Roberto Martinez applying a more defensive approach or lack of fitness this early in the season remains unanswered, yet it cost them two points on the end of the day.
5) Wide Fox wonders?
Leicester have interesting wingers in the Algerian Riyad Mahrez and the Frenchman Anthony Knockaert. Both are loaded with tricks, pace and crossing ability, and there will probably be lots of entertainment in the offing, both for Leicester fans and Premier League followers. Mind Leicester's equalizer five minutes from time was a result of Mahrez cutting in from the right-hand side. Additionally, both are fairly young (both born in 1991), so Leicester accountants might have reason to look forward to a couple of good-looking transfer fees in the future.
6) King Power Stadium, and rightly so?
Last season, the Foxes recorded 17 wins, four draws and only two losses on home soil, which obviously were key numbers for their promotion. In other words, traveling to Leicester this season will not be a walk in the park for most sides. Bouncing back twice against Everton proves mental strength from a high level and they've got some decent assets around the pitch as well.
Hard workers like Danny Drinkwater, Andy King and Dean Hammond will run the midfield engine for the Premier League rookies. The experienced powerhouse Wes Morgan is paired up with the academy graduate Liam Moore in the heart of their defence. Despite maybe falling a bit short of facing quick passing on the floor, both seemingly possess both tackling and heading ability, which obviously is key for the everyday life in the top tier of English football.
If the strikers Leonardo Ulloa and Chris Woods, who bagged one each on their seasonal debuts, can keep their scoring boots on, Leicester will have decent cards up their sleeve. Additionally, they have one of the quickest players in the league, Jeff Schlupp, at their disposal. The 21-year-old can figure as left back, left winger or as a striker. Nonetheless his sky high finish whilst one-on-one with Tim Howard suggested that he probably should stick out wide.Suggest a correction