Enzo Maresca

‘All Eyes On Watford Contest’ – Maresca’s Mentality

Enzo Maresca shared the current thinking behind Leicester City’s ‘focused’ approach ahead of facing Watford this weekend.
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A second meeting of the season with the Hertfordshire side awaits on Saturday (3pm GMT kick-off), following a 2-0 success for the Foxes at King Power Stadium earlier this term. Sitting just inside the top half of the Sky Bet Championship, the Hornets have their own play-off ambitions to focus on.

Prior to travelling to Vicarage Road, Maresca outlined his thoughts in Friday’s pre-match press conference from Seagrave....

The right attitude

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James Justin

On the training pitch in Seagrave this week.

Although at the division’s summit, with 11 points separating City and Southampton at present, Leicester cannot look past Saturday’s game as the focus, which must be at the forefront of everyone’s mind in order to continue a three-game winning streak.

“Reading had the record in the Championship in 2006,” he explained, when asked about record points hauls. “It’s not something we are worried about. We are happy with where we are. In this moment we are just thinking about Watford.

“As we always say, at the end of the season, we will see where we are. We have 16 games to go and, in this moment, the most important thing is tomorrow’s game.

“First of all, I think the main part is always the players. So probably what we created in terms of a desire to bring this Club where it deserves to be and the mix between the players who were already here and new players was a key part.

“When you reach something and achieve something important, it’s for many reasons. In this moment, it’s not the time to tell all the reasons why because we haven’t achieved anything. We need to wait.

“The mentality has been important. It’s something that, since we started, we tried to create. In my first press conference, I said that Leicester in the Championship is not the same as Leicester in the Premier League.

“Everyone wants to beat us so we need to deal with that. We’ve adapted quite well. The mentality that we create has been a main part. It’s difficult because you need to convince them that it’s difficult to win games to reach our target.

“But at the same time, it’s easy because if I see them doubting or they drop a little bit, I can leave them out. The message is clear. For me, since I arrived here, it’s clear. The day-by-day dictates the first XI for tomorrow’s game.

“If they drop, they are not going to play because in any league, if you are not involved 100 per cent, the opponents, especially against us, as Leicester in the Championship, they are waiting for our game. If we are not ready, it’s not good.”

Analysis on the Hornets

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Valérien Ismaël

The man in charge at Vicarage Road.

Valérien Ismaël’s side are enduring a tough run of Championship form of late, without a win in five and without a goal in their last three. However, Maresca acknowledged that Leicester cannot turn up at any ground and expect to roll teams over, despite the emphatic result at Stoke City last weekend.

“Since we’ve faced them here, I’ve seen them and they are a good team,” the Italian commented on Saturday’s opponents. “I still think they have a chance to finish in the play-offs. The players that they have, they are good players.

“They try to play good football and are intense off the ball and have a good idea on the ball. It will be a tough game. Thinking about the game that we played at home, where were very good off the ball in terms of pressing, we dominated the game.

“We could score some goals in the first half and then we could score some more in the last 20 minutes. We could score more goals; we had many chances. At home, I don’t know if they are going to try to prepare for the game in a different way.

“The same as when you finish the game against Stoke at 5-0 and Stoke are in the top three or four clubs in the Championship for pressing, we took the chances that many times we don’t take, but every game is difficult. We have 46 games all pretty much the same.”

Daka’s strengths

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Patson Daka

Daka’s second goal at Stoke came from the penalty spot.

The forward line has been as interchangeable as any area of City’s XI this season, with four attackers vying for what it often one spot up top. Very soon, Maresca is likely to have Jamie Vardy, Tom Cannon, Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho all available for the first time, once the latter returns from the CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

Focusing on Daka, meanwhile, who has scored six goals in nine Championship matches since coming into contention, City’s Manager offered some thoughts on what the Zambia international brings to his side.

The 43-year-old added: “He’s a main part. Pat, I have said many times, the reason why he was not involved in the beginning was because he was one of the forwards who was close to leaving in the summer. Also we started with Jamie and Kel, who were scoring goals and playing well and then Tom came back from injury, so it was difficult for me.

“When Jamie got injured and Kel went away with the national team, Pat took his chances and he’s doing well. I really like a striker like Pat. He can link with his team-mates. He needs to improve but he can link the attack.

“Not just that, he is ready to attack in behind. He is quick, he is aggressive and, off the ball, he is working very good. Hopefully he can help us and score some more goals until the end like Jamie, Tom and Kel.

“His behaviour is fantastic; always laughing and always positive. He deserved his chances and to continue in the way he has been doing.”

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