Leicester City crushed Newcastle United 5-0 on a rainy afternoon at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
The Foxes looked leagues ahead of the Magpies, who were reduced to 10 men and left with an impossible task when Isaac Hayden was sent off for a reckless challenge in the first half.
Goals from Ricardo Pereira, Jamie Vardy (x2), Wilfred Ndidi and a Paul Dummett own goal did the damage for Brendan Rodgers’ side, but what did we learn from the match?
1. Is there a more in-form right-back than Pereira?
Take Trent Alexander-Arnold out of the equation and is there a more in-form right-back in the Premier League than Ricardo Pereira? In fact, no, leave Alexander-Arnold in and ask that same question.
The Portuguese was incredible on Sunday, driving up and down the right flank with limitless energy. Remember when Jose Mourinho got tired watching Andy Robertson? He might have passed out watching Ricardo here.
Ricardo Pereira has now scored in back-to-back games for Leicester City in the Premier League this season.
A brilliant solo effort give the Foxes the lead. 🦊 pic.twitter.com/xyyk5mRmXb
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 29, 2019
The former Porto man has flourished under Rodgers, becoming an attacking fulcrum for the Foxes and that was on show in the first half as he received the ball from Ayoze Perez and surged straight at the heart of the Newcastle defence. The Magpies looked terrified, backing away towards their own box, allowing Ricardo to unleash a precision finish low past Martin Dubravka’s helpless right hand.
If that was the peak of Ricardo’s performance, the rest of it sat perched just below that point as he defended almost flawlessly – barring one duel with Christian Atsu – and attacked with relentless drive and vigour.
We’ll ask that question one more time – is there a more in-form right-back in the Premier League right now?
Ricardo Pereira’s heat map vs Newcastle
2. Rash Hayden
Newcastle were always going to be up against it at the King Power Stadium. The Foxes have been in fine form in the Premier League and look set for a challenge on the top four, while the Magpies have been toothless to this point, languishing in the bottom three.
Their task was made that much more difficult just before half time when Hayden went flying into a challenge on Dennis Praet and was quite rightly shown a straight red card.
Yes, he did get the ball first, but that’s no excuse for landing your studs halfway up an opponent’s leg, leaving him at serious risk of suffering a broken leg. Moreover, the fact that the ball was on the edge of the Leicester penalty area and far from harm for Newcastle made the whole incident even more inexcusable.
That pretty much snuffed the remaining life out of Newcastle’s challenge in Sunday’s game and Steve Bruce must now contemplate games against Manchester United and Chelsea without one of his most important players.
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3. Blunt Newcastle
Newcastle defended relatively well for about 55 minutes against Leicester, until Hayden’s red card left them outnumbered and outmanoeuvred. The real problem is at the other end of the pitch.
Miguel Almiron is a great driving force in possession for Bruce but is wasted on the right flank, where he is forced back into too much of a defensive role. Atsu has great pace and looks dangerous in one-on-one situations but just doesn’t get into them enough. Joelinton has a great touch and is dominant in the air, but is totally isolated – it took him 59 minutes to get a touch of the ball in the Leicester box.
Newcastle have some great individual pieces in attack which should give them the potential to be a dangerous side, but none of it fits together, there’s nobody there to make it all work.
Where Leicester had the likes of Youri Tielemans running the midfield, and James Maddison sat in the stands waiting to come back into the side and exert his creative influence, Newcastle look bereft of that control in the middle, and it seriously hurts their attackers who are actually quite talented.
4. Fluid Foxes
Wow, this Leicester side are the real deal.
Credit to Rodgers – he had his fair share of doubters when he headed back south of the border, but the former Liverpool boss has now posted 10 wins and just four defeats from his opening 19 games in the Leicester dugout.
Everywhere you look across the pitch, things just click. Tielemans is wondrously gifted in possession and makes the Foxes dominant on the ball. Ndidi is a rock at the base of midfield, shielding his centre-backs who, by the way, aren’t too shabby themselves.
Leicester 5-0 Newcastle FT:
⚽️ Dummett (og)
A dominant performance from Leicester City who take the three points. pic.twitter.com/OTOjNSVLD4
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) September 29, 2019
At full-back, Pereira and Ben Chilwell might just make up the second-best pairing in the Premier League right now. And Vardy, well, he just keeps on scoring!
It’s still very early doors in 2019/20 but Leicester are the form team beyond the top two right now. A return to the Champions League must now be their main aim and if they keep taking teams apart with this much authority, who the hell is going to stop them?!
Jamie Vardy’s touch map vs Newcastle
5. Is Vardy even human?
Vardy is making us all seriously doubt whether or not he’s actually human.
The former England international’s brace on Sunday took him to five goals in seven games this season – moving him onto 10 at the King Power in 2019 – and both goals were absolute vintage Vardy. It was textbook stuff: hang on the shoulder of the last defender then tear away on goal with his blistering pace and fire home without even a thought of needing a second invitation.
10 – Jamie Vardy has scored 10 Premier League goals at the King Power Stadium in 2019 – the only players with more at a specific venue in this period are Sadio Mané (14 at Anfield) and Sergio Agüero (12 at the Etihad). Constant. pic.twitter.com/wI7JtVK4FJ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 29, 2019
The thing is, Vardy is now 32. He shouldn’t be this fast. He shouldn’t be this clinical. There are still precious few defenders in the Premier League who can keep pace with him over 10 yards and once he beats you in that sprint, he finishes with the sort of instinctive precision that makes you wonder if he’s some sort of god-sent gift, put upon the Earth with one remit: score goals.
This newly crafted Leicester City side are full of class and fluidity on the ball but at the tip of the spear, Vardy helps them retain that same, innate will to score which saw them earn so many admirers during their title-winning season.