Champions Leicester beaten at Hull

 Posted by at 9:33 PM
Aug 132016
Adama Diomande (number 20, left) was awarded Hull’s opening goal, the first of the new Premier League season, although Abel Hernandez (right) also got a touch

Leicester’s defence of their Premier League title began with a shock defeat at newly promoted Hull, who are managerless and relegation favourites.

Under caretaker boss Mike Phelan, Hull took the lead when Adama Diomande and Abel Hernandez combined acrobatically, with Diomande awarded the goal.

Riyad Mahrez replied from the penalty spot at the start of the second half after Demarai Gray had been fouled.

But Robert Snodgrass earned the Tigers victory after a cross was not cleared.

Danny Simpson’s clearance from Ahmed Elmohamady’s ball into the area only found Snodgrass on the edge of the box, and he drilled home.

It is the first time the reigning English champions have started the season with a defeat since 1989, when Arsenal lost at Manchester United.

What was wrong with Leicester?

Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester side lost only three league games in 2015-16

The Foxes’ title success was built on a solid defence and impressive finishing, but they managed neither at the KCOM Stadium.

With Robert Huth suspended, summer signing Luis Hernandez came into the Leicester back four, which looked vulnerable whenever Hull attacked down the flanks.

The defending champions also struggled up front, with Jamie Vardy missing their best chances – and they needed the help of referee Mike Dean for their equaliser.

Tom Huddlestone appeared to stand on Ahmed Musa’s heels outside the Hull area, but Leicester’s £18m record signing fell into the box and Dean pointed to the spot.

Vardy, who scored 24 Premier League goals last season, miscued badly from two Musa pull-backs and had another follow-up effort blocked by Jake Livermore after Christian Fuchs’ shot was saved.

But otherwise Leicester created little against a makeshift Hull defence that featured midfielder Livermore at centre-half alongside Curtis Davies.

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Hull were smarter than Leicester admits Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri

Analysis: Foxes off-balance – Waddle

Claudio Ranieri and Jamie Vardy spoke about Leicester’s misfiring attack during the game

BBC Radio 5 live analyst Chris Waddle felt the balance of Claudio Ranieri’s side was wrong, with Gray, Musa and Vardy often all in the same area of the pitch.

“Mahrez was great on the left but Gray kept cutting in from the left and the two strikers Musa and Vardy were almost holding hands with him.

“N’Golo Kante has been sold so Andy King was playing in front of their defence, but he did not look like he has the energy to play there.

“King likes to get forward – dropping off and getting the ball like Kante did is not his strength.”

A dream start for unfancied Hull

Hull fans protested against owner Assam Allam before kick-off

There was a distinct lack of a party atmosphere at the KCOM Stadium as the game started, with home fans protesting against current owner Assam Allam and a lot of empty seats as well as banners.

With no manager to replace Steve Bruce, no new signings since they were promoted via the play-offs and talk of a takeover, it was a far from ideal way for Hull to mark their return to the Premier League.

Phelan’s wafer-thin squad was expected to be cannon fodder for the champions, but he had clearly prepared them well because they started solidly and soon began causing Leicester problems.

Their spectacular and slightly bizarre opening goal came from a well-worked corner routine that saw Davies nod on at the near post.

They looked lively down the flanks, especially the impressive Elmohamady down the right, and rarely looked in danger when Leicester attacked.

The Foxes only lost three out of 38 league games last season – to Arsenal twice and Liverpool – but while Hull’s success was unexpected, it was also fully deserved for their organisation and endeavour.

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Hull caretaker-boss Mike Phelan

Man of the match: Hull defender Curtis Davies

Not only did Davies set up his side’s first goal, he marshalled their defence superbly, making more interceptions (eight) and clearances (15) than any other Tigers player

What next?

Leicester face Arsenal in their first home game of the new season next Saturday, the same day Hull travel to Swansea.

Live Text

Match ends, Hull City 2, Leicester City 1.

Second Half ends, Hull City 2, Leicester City 1.

Attempt saved. Daniel Drinkwater (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Daniel Amartey.

Foul by Tom Huddlestone (Hull City).

Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. David Meyler (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Corner, Hull City. Conceded by Daniel Amartey.

Robert Snodgrass (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ahmed Musa (Leicester City).

David Meyler (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester City).

Attempt blocked. Adama Diomande (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ahmed Elmohamady.

Substitution, Leicester City. Leonardo Ulloa replaces Danny Simpson.

Sam Clucas (Hull City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Sam Clucas (Hull City).

Ahmed Musa (Leicester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt saved. Robert Snodgrass (Hull City) left footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right is saved in the top right corner.

Robert Snodgrass (Hull City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Ahmed Musa (Leicester City).

Sam Clucas (Hull City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City).

Attempt saved. Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Christian Fuchs.

Attempt missed. Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Ahmed Musa.

Curtis Davies (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).

Attempt blocked. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jamie Vardy.

Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Eldin Jakupovic.

Attempt saved. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Curtis Davies (Hull City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Curtis Davies (Hull City).

Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution, Leicester City. Daniel Amartey replaces Andy King.

Substitution, Leicester City. Shinji Okazaki replaces Demarai Gray.

Attempt missed. Tom Huddlestone (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left from a direct free kick.

Abel Hernández (Hull City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Wes Morgan (Leicester City).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Robert Snodgrass (Hull City) because of an injury.

Attempt missed. Ahmed Musa (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Daniel Drinkwater.

Attempt missed. Ahmed Musa (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

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I cannot wait for the Premier League to get started and I am looking forward to being on the first Match of the Day of the season on Saturday night.

I know I am not the only one expecting a special season. I have never known so much anticipation leading up to a new campaign, and there are lots of reasons people are so excited.

Last year, other than the champions Leicester and, at times, Tottenham, the standard of play was pretty poor.

This time, with all the big-name managers involved and the money they have spent – including a world-record fee for Paul Pogba – I am expecting much bigger and better things.

I agree with MOTD host Gary Lineker that Leicester will not retain their title – but that still leaves six teams who can win it: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.

A lot can happen between now and the transfer window but, speaking before a ball is kicked, I think it will come down to a fight between the Manchester clubs.

If you pushed me, I would go with City because of new manager Pep Guardiola and the quality of their squad, but it is going to be very close.

Tottenham’s young side has not peaked yet

Mauricio Pochettino steered Spurs to fifth place in his first season in charge and third place last season

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino spent most of last season playing down his side’s chances even when they were challenging for the title.

He is not the only manager to do that but, whatever any of them say publicly, all six managers will believe they can win it this time.

Pochettino’s side came so close last time out, he will not want them to fall away. He has not spent a fortune in the transfer market this summer, but Spurs were already strong in most positions so there was no need to.

Yes, it will be tough for them to improve on third place but they have a very young team and there is no way they have peaked.

Spurs faded in the final month of last season, which might have been down to pressure. If they are in the same position this time, they will have learned from what happened and be stronger for it.

On top of that, they have got several England players who will be desperate to prove a point after their disappointment at Euro 2016. They will desperate to get back under way and make amends, and I see them challenging again.

I still expect goals from Zlatan at 34

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Highlights: Leicester City 1-2 Manchester United

Jose Mourinho is not afraid to come out and say United want to win the title because he knows he is at one of the biggest clubs in the world and that success is what they demand.

He has spent a lot of money this summer and it looks like he has got the players he wants and is ready to have a charge at the title.

As well as Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the players I am most looking forward to seeing in the Premier League this season.

I don’t think you can do anything but admire Ibrahimovic for what he has achieved in his career. He has massive belief in his own ability but so he should and I don’t mind him telling everyone about it either because, when you have won as much as he has, you can basically say and do what you want.

His career statistics back up his self-belief and I am really looking forward to seeing how he copes with the Premier League’s intensity, pressure and pace.

Zlatan has been a huge success wherever he has played so I am still expecting him to score goals for United, even though he is now 34.

Guardiola will face a different test every week

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Superstar managers set to do battle in Premier League

Again, it is going to be very interesting to see how Guardiola gets on in English football because the variety of styles you get in the Premier League will be very different to the football he has experienced where he has managed before.

In Spain and Germany the vast majority of teams want to play on the floor but here it changes every week and there are teams who will try to be physical against City or kick it long.

Guardiola will learn what it takes though, and so will Antonio Conte at Chelsea, who is another manager new to the English game.

Conte enhanced his reputation with the way Italy performed at Euro 2016 and he has already made two very good signings in N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi.

Chelsea not having any European football will be a big help because it gives Conte more time to work on the training ground with his players.

It is the same for Liverpool and I can understand the optimism around Jurgen Klopp at Anfield after his first few months in charge.

Klopp might upset one or two rival managers with his touchline antics but he will be great to watch and he has got something about him that makes me think Liverpool will do very well.

Arsenal will be up there again too although, of the teams I have mentioned, they are the ones that need to strengthen the most in the next couple of weeks if they are to be champions for the first time since 2004.

I have been saying the same thing about them for the past five or six years now. Even before they got these injuries to centre-halves Gabriel and Per Mertesacker, I didn’t think their squad was big enough or good enough to win the title.

Everyone will be gunning for Leicester this year

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Leicester City’s comic book season

It all adds up to being the most open title race I can remember but I do not see the champions being in the mix this time.

Leicester were the best team by a mile last season and fully deserved their title but I do not see it happening again and the top four is a big ask for the same reasons.

It will be very different for them this year with Champions League football to contend with and some teams spending a fortune to try to catch them up.

I know from winning the Premier League with Blackburn in 1995 that it is very difficult to do it again the following year. Everyone is gunning for you because you are champions and they all know how you play and have had time to work out how to stop you.

We finished seventh in 1996 and my guess at the moment is that is where Leicester will finish too, even if they avoid significant injuries like they did last season.

When you consider who else they are up against, that would still be a big achievement.

Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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