Talking Tactics

Can Man Utd shackle Leicester's formidable front four?

By Adrian Clarke 17 Feb 2023
Kelechi Iheanacho, Harvey Barnes, Tete and James Maddison

Adrian Clarke on the Foxes' new-look attack and how their movement can trouble the Red Devils

Related Articles
Matchweek 24 preview: Sunday's matches
Flashback: Tielemans' lob against Man Utd
FPL Pod: What to do for Rashford's Blank Gameweek

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 24.

Leicester City

Leicester’s new-look attacking quartet are absolutely flying ahead of Sunday's encounter with Manchester United, delivering 11 goal contributions between them across the last two matches. 

TV Info

Kelechi Iheanacho, Harvey Barnes, Tete and James Maddison have all been in outstanding form in the emphatic 4-2 and 4-1 victories over Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur respectively. 

Three members of the quartet have both scored and assisted across those two matches, while Tete also struck on his debut at Villa Park.

Leicester's last two matches
  Iheanacho Barnes Tete Maddison
Goals 2 1 1 2
Assists 3 1 0 1
Key passes 3 3 0 4
Shots 6 4 5 5
Succ. dribbles 3 1 7 4

Maddison’s return from injury is perhaps the catalyst for Leicester's improved form, but Brendan Rodgers will be thrilled with the tactical cohesion of his forward line.

The Foxes' manager generally likes a pacy player as his lone striker, with either Patson Daka, Jamie Vardy or Iheanacho leading the line.

Iheanacho is prepared to run in behind and down the channels, but he also likes to drop into pockets to knit moves together.

With Maddison sometimes pushing forward to join him in a front two, this new pairing can fluidly interchange positions.

Both Maddison and Iheanacho are superb at moving the ball forward between the lines and, in Barnes and Tete, they have wingers who are ready to surge into space beyond the last defender.

Rodgers is now using an inverted striker who likes to pick a pass, using speed from his wide men instead of from his centre-forward.

Tete, who completed six successful dribbles at Villa Park, is also a fresh face who can unsettle opponents with a line-breaking run.

Iheanacho on fire

Offering guile as well as goals, Iheanacho’s movement and passing has been wonderful to watch.

He is averaging a goal or assist every 61.9 minutes this season, across a total of 16 appearances, and is sure to start at Old Trafford.

Leicester minutes per goal or assist
Player Mins per goal/assist
Iheanacho 61.9
Maddison 91.1
Daka 117.3
Tete 160.0
Souttar 180.0
Barnes 189.0

Iheanacho caused havoc against Spurs with his runs behind the wide central defenders, scoring once and playing in Maddison for another goal.

Iheanacho also produced a sublime run and pass for Barnes in the same encounter, only to see the goal ruled out for offside.

His standout pass was a defence-splitting through ball for Tete’s goal in the win over Villa.

Erik ten Hag’s back four must be wary of the 26-year-old releasing team-mates with incisive forward passes on Sunday.

Barnes finding his target

Barnes is also brimming with confidence and his blossoming connection with Iheanacho should be a concern for Man Utd.

We saw Barnes whip a beautiful cross into the striker for a goal at Villa, and last time out a similar cross resulted in a header that went narrowly wide.

Even in periods where they have had poor results this season, Leicester’s forward line have always looked dangerous.

Their tally of 36 goals is actually one better than fourth-placed Newcastle United.

Man Utd will need to defend well against them because Rodgers’ new front four are functioning better than any other attack he has selected this season.

Also in this series

Part 2: Longstaff can step up to fire Newcastle's midfield
Part 3: Hojbjerg and Sarr hold the balance in Spurs' midfield

Latest Videos

More Videos