The English Premier League matchday 23 finds Burnley playing host at Turf Moor to Leicester City on the 19th of January 2020. Burnley comes into this game ranked 15th in the league having lost their last four games. This drops them within three points of the dreaded relegation zone. Sean Dyche, after a week of rest and preparation, hopes to give his team the tactics to take down the Foxes on Burnley’s home grounds. Having 10 defeats in the last 14 outings Burnley needs to capture as many points from every game as possible. Leicester’s skipper Brendan Rodgers hopes that the leagues leading scorer, Jamie Vardy, return to his scoring ways against Burnley. Vardy not having scored in his last five starts in all competitions looks to add to his 17 goals so far in the league. With the 11 point cushion that Leicester City holds on Manchester United, the Foxes want to use the Burnley game to get back on track to finish the season strong and stay in the race for Champions League play.
In this tactical analysis, we will look at how each team’s tactics matched up and provide an analysis of how each team progressed through the game in a 2-1 match where Burnley shocked Leicester with two goals in the second half to take all three points.
Rodgers came out in a 4-1-4-1. Vardy was set up top to stretch the Burnley defense. His running off the ball and his ability to draw defenders was key to opening up the defensive lines of Burnley. Ayoze Pérez looked to combined with Ricardo Pereira on the right side of the Foxes attack and looked to hold most of the wide play. Ben Chilwell not starting on the left side with Christian Fuchs holding the left wing down for Leicester. Nampalys Mendy stepped into the defensive midfield to replace Wilfred Ndidi behind Dennis Praet and James Maddison.
Dyche lined his hard-working team up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation to face the Foxes. With their top scorer, Chris Wood, back in the side having returned from a broken nose, it will help give them a target player up front to play off of. Jay Rodriguez took the place of Ashley Barnes who is out due to surgery. James Tarkowski and Ben Mee at the centre of the defense looked to tend to the speedy Vardy by keeping an inside position on him. This will help Phil Bardsley and Charlie Taylor get forward and pick out Burnley’s forwards with early service into the heart of Leicester’s defence.
Leicester looking to push the attack
Leicester found themselves under early pressure trying to build out of the back. Burnley pushed higher up the field and put the ball under immediate pressure. Leicester found themselves building mostly on the right side of the attack. The speed of Pérez and Ricardo caught Burnley early as they pushed into the attacking third of the field. Leicester saw 54% of their attacks come down this right flank while 46% came down the middle of the pitch. Chilwell’s absence can be clearly seen in this statistic. As you can see in the image below Leicester would push high up the field and force Burnley to cover. Pérez, Ricardo, and Fuchs stepped quickly into the attack drawing Burnley into a back six. This allowed Leicester to have a three v two advantage in the midfield with a lot of space to move the ball.
As Leicester continued to find success by playing through the midfield quickly, Pérez and Praet started to interchange positions based on Ricardo’s movements. You can see below by Pérez sliding into the central channel and Praet pushes high and outside Burnley are lost on the marking scheme.
The overload creates a four v two in the centre with no pressure on the ball. Ricardo is able to step into the middle and play Vardy through the backline ending in a late run by Maddison with a chance on goal. The overload continued to be present throughout the game. As Burnley pushed numbers forward, Maddison and Praet found themselves in the middle of the pitch with time to get their head up. You can see below that Maddison collects the ball at midfield from a knockdown from Burnley’s longball attempt. As he gets his head up he is able to pick out Vardy running in-between Tarkowski and Mee. This ball was able to be played due to the runs of Barnes in the left channel holding Tarkowski and Pérez freezing Mee by pushing into the right channel with speed. Both centre backs were working to cut the attack on the width and left the EPL’s top scorer running down the middle at Nick Pope.
Burnley looking to play direct
Burnley had a rather simple plan. They wanted to put the ball into dangerous areas inside the Leicester half and fight for the first ball, and win the knockdowns. Burnley’s long pass percentage was 17% overall, compared to Leicester’s 11%. Bardsley would get forward from his right-back position to support the attack, but only to try to cross the ball in behind the backline of Leicester. You can see in the image above that as Taylor, following Bardsley tactics, pushes forward and does not look to get close to the end line before he crosses. He is looking to catch Leicester in an overloaded position at the back post. That early service from Burnley continued to happen and only intensified as the game moved closer to full time.
The other thing that caused some problems for Leicester was that anytime there was a set piece for Burnley, they would leave Mee and Tarkowski forward on the backside after the initial Leicester clearance. Burnley was looking for the overload at the back post with their big men and hoping for a knockdown to capitalize on. You can see this tactic depicted below.
Leicester’s movement in the attacking third
Vardy is a master at running off the ball, and with his scoring prowess, he draws a lot of attention. In Leicester’s first goal you can see how he drags Tarkowski out of the play and forces Mee to cover middle and turn to face Barnes directly. This slight movement gives Barnes, with his speed off the dribble, the ability to push into the box and put the ball in the net. Leicester had a lot of great looks on Pope’s goal. You can see below how they continued to access the centre part of the defence by the running in wide areas and outnumbering Burnley in the midfield. This time Ricardo plays into Maddison in the inside channel and as he turns creates a 4v2 25 yards from goal. As Burnley keep two covering Vardy at the back post, Mee is stuck in the middle with no support. The ball is quickly played around them and ends with Pope making a great save on a Praet curling shot. Leicester continued to leverage the ability to outnumber Burnley in the midfield play which ended in a lot of clear chances for the Foxes.
In looking at the game and working through the statistics of the game it was a fairly even match. Leicester had many chances that ended in really good looks at the Burnley goal. Pope had a fantastic day in goal for Burnley. Saving a penalty kick from Vardy and pushing away many dangerous shots earned his team with the three points. Burnley will have to be better in the centre of midfield to have hopes of staying clear of relegation. While Leicester will need to put the chances away when they come to keep their Champion’s Leauge hopes alive.