In a dismal evening of football, Leicester were soundly beaten by Legia Warsaw 1-0 despite the best efforts of James Maddison.
The Foxes put in a sluggish display out in Poland, looking wholly devoid of ideas and inspiration until James Maddison entered the field on 67 minutes. The Englishman instantly supercharged the Foxes and suddenly they looked like a proper football team again.
In 2018/19, James Maddison created 100 chances in the Premier League. One hundred. That’s 3.16 chances created per-90 minutes. Maddison was among the brightest young stars in the Premier League and it seemed only a matter of time before he joined an elite side.
Then in 2019/20 that was understandably a bit down but still very high at 79 chances created (2.71 per-90), and Maddison still looked like getting a move to an elite team. But in 2020/21, that was down again to just 51 chances created (only 2.18 per-90) and he no longer looked sure of joining an elite side, all of whom had picked other players or were Arsenal.
Then in his admittedly limited Premier League game time this season he has created just 1.00 chances per-90; that’s just four in total. It’s been a bizarre fall from grace for Maddison who seems to have stagnated in his player development even as everyone else at Leicester has been growing at an exponential rate.
However, even though Leicester fell to defeat in Warsaw, Maddison was for once a real bright spark.
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Maddison didn’t start against Legia, and for the time he wasn’t on the pitch you could really see how poor Leicester looked. But then Maddison came on with Harvey Barnes and the whole game turned in an instant, with the Foxes ascendant.
Maddison grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and began driving his team forward. Barnes was his able deputy, making runs off him into space and acting as an outlet for Maddison’s passes. Barnes then turned the ball back into the box or looked for Maddison himself.
Despite playing just 23 minutes, Maddison registered 4 shots, the second-most in the game from either team. Barnes created 3 chances, a joint game-high too. The way they pushed the tempo in Leicester’s favour and came perilously close to scoring would have given those invested in Maddison’s success lots of cause for celebration.
Of course, Leicester didn’t actually get the result they wanted, and are now five points behind Legia who top the group with six points. But the way in which Maddison asserted his authority over a European game and took control, even if it didn’t work out in the end, it showed the signs that the Englishman is back on the right track to playing at his best level.