Puel relieved as gamble pays off in Leicester win at Peterborough
The Frenchman made 10 changes to his line-up from the side that beat Watford last weekend but the Foxes ran riot in a 5-1 victory over Posh.
Leicester manager Claude Puel admitted it was a risk to field so many changes for his side’s Emirates FA Cup fourth-round clash against Peterborough on Saturday.
The Frenchman made 10 changes from the team that beat Watford in the Premier League last weekend, with Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy both left on the bench.
But Puel’s brave gamble paid off as the Foxes completed an impressive 5-1 demolition job of the League One side, with Kelechi Iheanacho and debutant Fousseni Diabate both scoring twice.
Asked if he feared the overhaul of his starting XI could backfire, Puel replied: “Yes, I am responsible.
“It is important to have a good ambition for the cup because it is an objective for us, but we have to improve and develop the squad.
“Of course, sometimes there is some risk, but it is important to build the team’s strength for the future.
“The cup journey is a good reward for all the team. If we can continue our journey in this competition we have to have some quality and to keep a lot of players fresh.”
Leicester, seventh in the Premier League, were a class above Peterborough and all but booked their place in the fifth round with less than 30 minutes gone at London Road.
Diabate, the 22-year-old forward who arrived at the Foxes from Ligue 2 club Gazelec Ajaccio earlier this month, gave the visitors the lead after nine minutes before Iheanacho added a second moments later.
The former Manchester City forward then doubled his tally with 29 minutes on the clock before Diabate and substitute Wilfred Ndidi completed the rout in the closing stages after Andrew Hughes had pulled one back for the hosts.
Diabate was making his first appearance for Leicester, and Puel praised the debutant following his impressive display.
“No one knew of him,” Puel added. “He played in the French second division but I followed him a lot and I thought he can become a good opportunity for Leicester.
“He has good attributes to play in the Premier League with his pace, his good engine and penetration.”
Peterborough may have sensed a cup upset following Puel’s decision to rest a number of key players ahead of their Premier League clash at Everton on Wednesday night.
But any hope of Grant McCann celebrating his 100th game in charge by securing Posh’s first FA Cup victory against top-flight opposition in more than half a century, was over when the hosts gifted Leicester their opening two goals inside 12 minutes.
“It killed the game,” said McCann as he reflected on the early strikes. “For us to give them the two goals in the first 12 minutes was heartbreaking.
“All the fans came to support us looking for the upset, and we believed we could do it.
“We were well below par in the first period and we could have done a lot more. We were lucky to come in at 3-0, but credit to the boys in the second half.”