Leicester put the bite on Ginola

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The Independent Football

Despite the holiday break and their ambitious forays into the transfer market this summer, both Leicester City and Aston Villa were worryingly predictable yesterday. Not even a new manager, new players and a new season could help kick this goalless draw into life.

Despite the holiday break and their ambitious forays into the transfer market this summer, both Leicester City and Aston Villa were worryingly predictable yesterday. Not even a new manager, new players and a new season could help kick this goalless draw into life.

The match was always going to provide enough sub-plots to last an entire season of Big Brother. Peter Taylor was making his debut, both as manager of Leicester in an official match and in the Premiership; Stan Collymore was not only marking his comeback after a four-month lay-off following a broken leg, he was also facing his old club, who so publiclyrejected him last season.

Dion Dublin was returning to his home town; Gary Rowett, Callum Davidson and Ade Akinbiyi, bought for a combined total of £10m, were enjoying their home debuts; Luc Nillis was back in Belgium for treatment on a groin strain, while Muzzy Izzet and Villa's Alpay were creating history by becoming the first two Turks to play in the same Premiership match.

And then there was the David Ginola factor. While all but the Tottenham faithful would accept that the 33-year-old is no longer the big threat he once was, most also feel he can still have some impact. At Villa, sales of replica shirts and, more importantly, season tickets are up. So too is morale. After the disappointment of last season, when John Gregory's side forgot how to play their usual, attractive game, there is genuine belief that Ginola's arrival can carry the Midlanders into Europe.

That hope did not materialise yesterday. Ginola was well marshalled by Robbie Savage, and largely ineffectual on either flank, and his 61st-minute exit was entirely predictable.

He and Villa played some neat football, but they lacked any real cutting edge. "David is a little short of fitness," said the Villa manager after the game. "He's only had three 45 minutes, though, so I'm not worried. He'll get that sharpness back. We all will."

For Leicester, continuing Martin O'Neill's record of four consecutive top-10 Premiership finishes could prove harder than ever this season. At least Taylor has been shrewd enough not to over-disrupt the squad or the system his predecessor favoured. Playing in their customary 3-5-2 formation, it was the home side who enjoyed the bulk of possession. "I was pleased with our overall performance," Taylor said. "I enjoyed my first game and just felt we should have got forward a bit more."

From the kick-off, Collymore did go on a mazy run, prompting the Leicester fans to chant "We bought Stan Collymore". Not strictly true, as he joined on a free transfer, but the adulation will have been welcomed by the man who says he just wants to be loved.

The Leicester captain, Matt Elliott, then headed over from six yards and, just before the half-hour, Collymore missed a glorious opening when his shot was smothered by David James. Other than a fierce left-foot strike from Akinbiyi, again well saved by the Villa keeper, chances were few and far between in the second half.

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