Top Foxes: Which Leicester players shine brightest in the fairytale?

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Riyad Mahrez won the PFA Player of the Year award for this Premier League season as the award understandably went to a member of Leicester City.

But did it go to the right one?

The sensational Mahrez is most certainly in the discussion, but what about Jamie “Fantastic Horse” Vardy or N’Golo “Battery Pants” Kante?

And then there’s the center back pair critics just can’t divide (in terms of importance), and a pair of Manchester United cast-offs playing every match. Oh, and a legendary Red Devils’ son.

[ MORE: UEFA Champions League semifinal preview ]

So who would be crazy enough to make an attempt to rank the most valuable members of the title run? Pro Soccer Talk. Duh.

Nine players have appeared in at least 33 of Leicester’s PL matches this season, although one of those Foxes — Shinji Okazaki — has played less minutes than Danny Simpson (27 matches) and Christian Fuchs (29 minutes).

And with respect to Leonardo Ulloa, who has several high-profile Leicester moments, and

To avoid making a distinction between the two, we will limit our ranking to the remaining eight (at the expense of Okazaki, Simpson and Fuchs).

8. Marc Albrighton

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Marc Albrighton and Leicester City players celebrate their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Leicester City at Selhurst Park on March 19, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Crosses for days: Albrighton had an early season knack for gorgeous, sweeping assists. Not as clinical in possession or defending, though, and that slots him 8th.

7. Danny Drinkwater

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Wes Morgan of Leicester City (5) celebrates with team mate Danny Drinkwater as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium on April 3, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Doesn’t make as many spectacular, awe-inspiring plays as his midfield mate Kante, but is a steadying part of the force who’s opened the eyes of England manager Roy Hodgson.

6. Robert Huth

during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at The King Power Stadium on March 14, 2016 in Leicester, England.
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A friend of mine who’s been getting into the Premier League more because of the Leicester story calls the big German back the “Chris Pronger of the Premier League”, and any hockey fan can tell you what that means. Big and nasty, and a threat at both ends of the pitch.

5. Kasper Schmeichel

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City attempts to punch clear from Graziano Pelle of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium on April 3, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

It wasn’t too long ago that his last name was more interesting to neutrals than his status as a starting goalkeeper. Schmeichel has played in every match for Leicester, and is a Top Ten goalkeeper in the PL.

4. Jamie Vardy

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Jamie Vardy of Leicester City controls the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium on April 3, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

We know, we know: the striker who set a record for most successive goals is fourth on our list. His 22 goals and 8 assists account for close to 50 percent of the Foxes’ 63 goals, and who knows how high that figure rises when you consider his relentless energy and pressure have caused many a turnover. Not bad for a kid from Stocksbridge Park Steels’ youth set-up.

3. Wes Morgan

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.
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Leicester didn’t keep its first clean sheet until Week 10, and has just two before Christmas. The English-born Jamaican international has been instrumental in most of the 12 clean sheets that have come since, as the Foxes have allowed multiple goals just three times in 2016. Marshall.

2. Riyad Mahrez

West Ham United v Leicester City - Premier League
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The 17-goal man’s best league scoring outputs before this season were 13- and 11- goal seasons… for Le Havre II. This season, he’s been off the charts in terms of electricity in attack.

MVP: N’Golo Kante

 during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on April 17, 2016 in Leicester, England.
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There are many reasons Mahrez won PFA Player of the Year, but his gaudy numbers tipped the scales. Traditional statistics don’t tell us everything, though, and if you’re talking about open market value for a player we believe Kante would fetch the most. We’ve written about his value at length here, as Leicester’s counterattacking approach needs an interceptor and a facilitator. He does both.

Agree? Disagree? Vote on your Leicester MVP here:

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

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Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

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Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

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Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.