Enzo Maresca

‘We Are Similar’ - Maresca Analyses Saints Challenge

Enzo Maresca has pointed to both sides’ need for points in the quest for Sky Bet Championship promotion as he prepares to welcome Southampton to Filbert Way.
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Leicester City’s penultimate home fixture of 2023/24 sees Russell Martin’s visit King Power Stadium on Tuesday evening (8pm BST kick-off). Ahead of another crucial encounter on home soil, City’s Manager gave his thoughts on the vital victory over West Bromwich Albion and what he expects to face this time around.  

Overcoming West Brom

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Saturday’s game wasn’t for the faint hearted as Foxes fans went through a range of emotions during the 2-1 triumph at home to West Brom. Two goals to the good, after a shaky start and then a penalty miss, the Baggies’ late strike made it a nervy end to proceedings.

The relief at full-time was clear for all to see in the celebrations with the fans. Though Hamza Choudhury was singled out for praise, Maresca was happy with the whole squad’s contributions.  

“It was a crazy game, they gave everything,” the Italian analysed. “At this stage of the season, it’s very important to win games and we are happy. What we got [against West Brom], we lost in the last two games. It’s more about the desire in this moment.

“We had a plan for the game and set pieces, but when it’s not working well and the other plan is not working, you also need mentality. They completely showed that.

“In terms of recognising good human beings, it’s something that most of the time I do in the right way. And Hamza has been one of the guys who we knew was. He was fantastic and completely deserved.

“But all of them – Stephy [Mavididi], Abdul [Fatawu], Kiernan [Dewsbury-Hall]. In the week he was not good, he has been unwell. Jamie [Vardy] also missed some training this week.

“The players love Conor [Coady], we love Conor. The problem is that sometimes you need to take a decision. He was playing, JJ (James Justin) was out, Callum [Doyle] was out. Jannik [Vestergaard] is not quick, Callum is not quick, Conor is not quick.

“So we also adjust a little bit depending how the opponents are. We knew [Brandon Thomas] Asante was suspended, we expected something different. I’m very happy for Conor.”

Mindset key

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Enzo Maresca

Watching on from the touchline.

The table toppers are in pole position with three matches remaining, but whatever happens elsewhere, everyone connected to the Club must have a linear focus on the task in hand. 

“We still need to win,” the 44-year-old explained. “I said after Plymouth and Millwall, when you win games, you see yourselves closer, so you celebrate. We did and we did against Birmingham and against Norwich in the same way, but it is not finished.

“We still need to do our job to try to get promoted. This Club was relegated less than 10 months ago so it’s not easy. You have to change many things and we are where we deserved to be and hopefully can finish there.

“I’m happy with the fans – at home, away. Even if sometimes because we don’t win or they don’t like the way that we play, some of them are not happy but this happens everywhere. Overall we are loving the way that our fans behave every game. They have to recognise that we are trying to change things and bring this Club where everyone is thinking that we should be.”

'We are all there'

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Stephy Mavididi

The last meeting at St. Mary's ended in a 4-1 Leicester win.

The South Coast outfit are the only Championship side with higher average possession and passing stats than the Foxes and Maresca acknowledged the similarities between the promotion rivals. Southampton lost out to Cardiff City on Saturday.

The former Manchester City coach added: “We are similar in terms of that we try to keep the ball to dominant throughout the game. Tuesday will be tough; it will be difficult. Even when they lost games in the past, they were playing good, but it’s football.

“They are improving, they are in the final rush, they are there and for sure they are going to be there until the end. If they win all of the games they have, they have an opportunity and a big chance to get promoted. We are all there.

“We always need to improve. Even when we win and won many games in a row, there are many things we can do better for sure – take chances or manage the game better. The last two games we dropped points but the performance was good.

“[Against West Brom] we conceded too many chances but now it’s a matter of finishing in the right way. We need to recover energy and trying to win the next game. We’ll see [about promotion] but we need to try and win Tuesday. Now it’s a matter of trying to recover all of them and the energy.”

Leicester City Crest





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