Looks like another last spot on Match of the Day with no goals scored but I suppose it could be worse. The game was thoroughly entertaining, especially the first half but grew increasingly frustrating the more apparent it became that our goal scoring wait would continue.
It’s been quite a strange start to the season really, five points of a possible nine against Everton, Arsenal and Man Utd at home, then two points of a possible nine against Burnley, West Brom and Sunderland. Oh well, that really does makes our great start even more important.
Starting with the team news; it was pleasing to see Pearson revert back to a 4-4-2 with wingers. The defence remained the same, meaning De Laet kept his spot at right-back and Moore was left on the bench with Wasilewski getting the nod to partner Morgan for the third consecutive game. King and Drinkwater were dropped to the bench with James and Cambiasso the midfield duo. Schlupp and Mahrez provided the width with Vardy and Ulloa the strike force tasked with breaking this goalless run.
There had been an agonizingly long wait of three weeks since the last home game, that disappointing West Brom defeat, so it felt almost like the pre-season optimism had returned. From kickoff everyone was in full voice, a complete contrast to the gloomy atmosphere that had been present at the Burnley and West Brom games. The first half was full of chances that seemed impossible they weren’t put away.
Wasilewski had a free header from a corner – we’re notoriously terrible at scoring from set-pieces – that he somehow missed from a couple of yards out. Mahrez and Cambiasso had some great link-up play together, however there were too many touches involved and were quickly robbed of possession despite a promising opening. Vardy and his great asset, pace, caused a huge number of problems to a slow Sunderland backline and almost caught Pantilimon out by closing him down before his clearance. Schlupp had the best chance of the half when he received the ball out on left near the corner flag. but opted to shoot from a narrow angle instead of passing to his open teammates, gifting the keeper an easy save.
Predictably Sunderland did improve as it was a hugely one-sided first half, and in the second half, Conner Wickham and Steven Fletcher looked a threat with their strong physical presence. Adam Johnson really stood out for me, whose last visit to the King Power was in Man City colours back in 2011. Our team has changed quite considerably since then… Anyway, it really was a frustrating end to the game. The referee Robert Madley – have you heard of him? – made some really poor decisions. Two massive calls at least. The first was a big penalty shout that looked a clear decision from where I was sitting, and there was a really nasty tackle from that man Lee Cattlemole on Cambiasso that really should have been a sending off.
The subs I can’t really say impacted the games as much as I would have liked. Nugent came on for Vardy who had a solid game but didn’t really receive enough service. Fan favourite Knockaert came on for Schlupp who equally looked good enough to warrant another start, however Anthony didn’t have many opportunities coming on with ten minutes to go to really impress. Wood coming on for Ulloa with a couple of minutes left seemed a bit pointless.
Positives to take away are that it is a clean sheet, which must be pleasing for Schmeichel who has been in good form despite the defeats, and that it is a point gained, yes it was a great opportunity to get a win but it is hardly as disastrous as if we’d have lost. The pundits did have us down for a defeat pre-match so I suppose that’s something. There was however a visible lack of confidence in front of goal that was worrying, too much deliberation and not any real conviction. The next game is QPR away who are on a pretty poor run themselves so to win at Loftus Road would be huge. The next home game is against Liverpool, I don’t even know what to think about that one!