Le­ices­ter City Burnley

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Total Football - By John Ai­zle­wood at the King Power Sta­dium

Barnes 20, Pi­eters 50 og, Justin 61, Praet 79

Wood 10, Dunne 73

For all Le­ices­ter’s wob­ble late last sea­son, there were whole months when they looked unstoppabl­e. Last night, defensive frail­ties not­with­stand­ing, show­cased the best their mid­field and strike force can of­fer. Pro­pelled by the im­pe­ri­ous Har­vey Barnes, they have scored seven goals in two games and won their open­ing pair of league matches for the first time since the ti­tle-win­ning cam­paign of 2015-16.

Le­ices­ter were un­changed af­ter the pre­vi­ous week’s stroll at the Hawthorns. Burnley, though, be­gan their Premier League sea­son with their paucity of re­sources on dis­play. On this day last year, Jimmy Dunne was help­ing Fleet­wood Town over­come Rochdale in League One, the fifth loan of a seem­ingly mori­bund ca­reer at Turf Moor.

Last night, with Ben Mee in­jured and James Tarkowski – the vic­tim of both a toe nig­gle and spec­u­la­tion as to his where­abouts when the trans­fer win­dow closes – ab­sent, Dunne stepped up to make his Premier League de­but. The 22-year-old Ir­ish­man scored Burnley’s sec­ond, and did not dis­grace him­self, but his team’s prob­lems run deeper than a rookie cen­tre-back.

“I liked our men­tal­ity tonight,” Sean Dyche, the Burnley man­ager, said. “But it’s not new news how we have to op­er­ate. We work with what we’ve got.”

Rather than prey upon the new boy, Jamie Vardy flit­ted be­tween Dunne and Kevin Long, adding the el­e­ment of sur­prise to his wily ma­noeu­vring, but it was Barnes who par­tic­u­larly im­pressed. “I’m de­lighted

Through the crowd: Den­nis Praet shoots from the edge of the penalty area to score the last of Le­ices­ter’s four goals against Burnley

for him,” said Bren­dan Rodgers, who was cel­e­brat­ing his 100th Premier League vic­tory as a man­ager. “He was bril­liant tonight and his com­po­sure and ag­gres­sion were out­stand­ing. If he can in­crease his

num­bers and his un­der­stand­ing, he’s go­ing to get bet­ter still.”

Le­ices­ter were rather less ef­fer­ves­cent in de­fence, where their own cen­tral in­dis­po­si­tions forced Wil­fred Ndidi to con­tinue as Caglar Soyuncu’s un­com­fort­able side­kick, but both were by­passed when ex­cel­lent work from Dwight McNeil en­abled Char­lie Tay­lor to cross deep from the left. James Justin made a hash of deal­ing with Chris Wood, who chested the ball down and volleyed past Kasper Sch­me­ichel. Justin would be far from in­no­cent for Burnley’s sec­ond, too.

Ten min­utes later Le­ices­ter were level. Barnes’s de­fence-split­ting pass found Vardy, who gal­loped on and seemed poised to score when Tay­lor and Dunne ca­reered into each other. In­stead, Vardy rolled it back for Ti­mothy Castagne, who side-footed across the area for the on­rush­ing Barnes to smash home.

With Barnes caus­ing all sorts of trou­ble down Le­ices­ter’s left, and Den­nis Praet in­dus­tri­ous in the cen­tre, Le­ices­ter as­sumed hege­mony,

but Burnley clung on un­til the 50th minute. Justin found Youri Tiele­mans, whose sump­tu­ous pass took out the en­tire de­fence, but not the over­lap­ping Castagne, whose crossshot was de­flected past Nick Pope by the un­for­tu­nate Erik Pi­eters.

Le­ices­ter were dom­i­nant now and goal num­ber three ar­rived when Ay­oze Perez twisted past a bat­tal­ion of lack­lus­tre chal­lenges be­fore squar­ing to Justin to sweep in his first Premier League goal.

Burnley ral­lied a lit­tle. McNeil slung over a free-kick and Dunne over­whelmed Justin’s limp chal­lenge to bun­dle the ball into the net. But if Dunne’s scrappy goal had prised open Le­ices­ter’s door, it soon slammed shut again. The ir­re­sistible Barnes waltzed through some more lily-liv­ered de­fend­ers and found Praet, who had time to look up and weigh his op­tions be­fore fir­ing past an un­der­stand­ably an­gry Pope.

Wood al­most made the last few min­utes more thrilling still when he beat Sch­me­ichel, but not, alas for him and his team, the post.

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