Brendan Rodgers reveals Leicester City targeted Granit Xhaka during Arsenal defeat

Brendan Rodgers admits he was surprised by Arsenal's change in formation
Brendan Rodgers admits he was surprised by Arsenal’s change in formation (Reuters)

Brendan Rodgers has revealed that Leicester City targeted Granit Xhaka’s positioning during their 1-0 victory over Arsenal on Sunday evening.

Jamie Vardy’s goal in the 80th minute secured victory for Leicester, while Mikel Arteta’s side have now suffered back-to-back defeats in the Premier League.

Arteta opted to change system for Leicester’s visit to the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal lined up in a 4-3-3.

But while Rodgers admits he was surprised by Arsenal’s formation, the Leicester boss admits the system allowed Leicester to exploit Xhaka in midfield.

Asked if he changed Leicester’s tactics in response to Arsenal’s set-up, Rodgers told BBC Sport: ‘No, I think it was obviously a different set-up [from Arsenal] but how our organisation was it was able to cope.

‘It was just a few little changes, Xhaka coming out to the side meant that Dennis [Praet] could then press him instead of having to go on to the full-back, so that was just about detail.

Brendan Rodgers reveals Leicester's midfield was able to press Granit Xhaka
Brendan Rodgers reveals Leicester’s midfield was able to press Granit Xhaka (Getty)

‘But apart from that it was about closing the lines, making sure our concentration was good, and then when we had the ball looking to play through.’

Rodgers also revealed that Leicester’s plan was to press Arsenal if they continued to take short goal kicks at every opportunity.

‘It’s the first time they have lost [at home] this calendar this year, it tells you how strong they’ve been,’ Rodgers said in his post-match press conference.

Jamie Vardy score Leicester City's winner against Arsenal in the 80th minute
Jamie Vardy score Leicester City’s winner against Arsenal in the 80th minute (AP)

‘The game was always about denying space. In lots of games we’ll always put pressure high up the pitch and look to win the ball back.

‘When you’re playing against the quality of Arsenal and the speed of Arsenal then we decided to press from the static goal kick where we could. Then if not, recover into that medium, resting phase of pressure and making sure your lines are tight.

‘They actually played in a slightly different structure to what we anticipated but our set-up still allowed us to cope with that.

‘When you come away to the big teams you’ve got to have high-level concentration. You’ve got to defend well, you’ve got to be concentrated, everyone has to do their job, and then you know with your quality you’ll be able to play yourself into the game.

‘Play through the pressure well, deal with it, then know our quality will get us opportunities and thankfully it worked out well for us.’

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