Dean Smith Backs Leicester’s Tactics in 23-1 Shot On-Target Disparity Against Newcastle

Newcastle United qualified for the next edition of the Champions League with their goalless draw against Leicester City. The Magpies celebrated their return to the elite European club competition but their third-place finish is not guaranteed.

Eddie Howe’s men take on the challenge of Chelsea in their final Premier League outing of the season and need a win to ensure they finish ahead of Manchester United who are a point behind. They will be left ruing their missed chances against the Foxes if they allow the Red Devils to overtake them on the final day.

Leicester’s First Clean Sheet in 22 Matches

Newcastle failed to get over the line due to a lack of trying. Howe’s men tried and tried again but could not pierce Leicester’s defence. With the knowledge that Everton and Leeds have failed in their points attempt, the Foxes came up with an ultra-defensive plan to play for it all on the final day of the campaign.

Dean Smith’s plans worked as Newcastle were unable to put the ball into the back of the net. The Magpies were stifled for space as Leicester did not try to go beyond the halfway line even when given opportunities. It resulted in a barrage of shots, 23 to be exact. The Foxes held firm and earned their first clean sheet.

“We always knew that it was going to be a tough ask,” Smith told LCTV. “Not many people would have expected us to get a result here, yet alone our first clean sheet in 22 games.

“The reason we are where we are in the league is because of that – we haven’t kept enough clean sheets.

Leicester’s Defense Thwarts 23-1 Shot Siege

Smith admitted he had expected their rivals to put them to the sword in the manner they did. Brighton suffered at the hands of the Magpies, suffering a 4-1 defeat. Leicester could not afford to do the same given the disparity between the two sides, one is struggling for survival and the other is locking horns with the best in business.

There were 24 shots in the game and Newcastle were responsible for the first 23. However, the last attempt came from a Fox but it was not enough to outwit Nick Pope. The smash-and-grab was foiled by the England international, who denied Leicester with a reflex save.

Smith shared that he had made up his mind after watching Brighton being demolished and gave his side the chance that had the most beneficial outcome. However, he lamented the missed opportunity that would have boosted their survival chances.

“I make no apologies for the way we played. We felt we had to tighten up defensively. I watched them on Thursday and I made my mind up then. We needed an extra defender.

“The quality, power and height advantage they have from set-pieces and with the powerful runs they’ve got, with the momentum they’re on, it was not going to be easy,” Smith added. “I had to make some sacrifices with our two leading goalscorers left out.

“The idea was to stay in the game for as long as we could and then get them on and hopefully create something.

“Then [Timothy Castagne] gets his chance in the 90th minute and the goalkeeper makes a wonderful save.”

Leicester takes on the challenge of Europa Conference League finalists, West Ham, on the final day. However, they will be keeping tabs on developing situations at Elland Road and Goodison Park, where fellow relegation-threatened Leeds United and Everton are in action against Tottenham and Bournemouth, respectively.

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