Harvey Barnes

Jamie Vardy: ‘I’m playing the best that I ever have’

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If you thought you had seen the best of Jamie Vardy, you are dead wrong.

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Sure, Vardy has put up sensational numbers throughout his peculiar career. A 31-goal season with Fleetwood Town during the 2011-2012 campaign of England’s fifth-tier, which is his most productive to date. Then there’s Leicester City’s historic title-winning season in 2015-2016, one that saw Vardy make a name for himself world wide, scoring 24 goals in 36 appearances.

Interestingly enough, however, we are finally witnessing the best of Vardy, at least according to the goalscorer himself. At 32 years of age, he leads the Premier League with 11 goals after 12 matches. From the BBC:

“I’m playing probably the best that I ever have but there’s a long way to go,” Vardy said following Leicester’s 2-0 win over a struggling Arsenal. “I’m always willing to learn, there’s new tactics with the gaffer and I’m always trying to give 100% and it’s paying dividends for myself.”

In their first, full season under experienced manager Brendan Rodgers, the Foxes are currently second in the table, five points behind unbeaten Liverpool. Rodgers, too, is a believer that his frenetic, yet skilled forward is currently experiencing a season to remember. To be exact, the 46-year-old is convinced that Vardy is in the elite echelon of strikers the world has to offer.

“It’s firstly about giving him confidence,” Rodgers said following his club’s eighth win of the season. “He is up there with the very, very top strikers in European football with what he brings to a team, his pressing.”

“We’ve allowed him to do essentially what he wants to do – he’s so honest, he’d press he whole back four if he could,” he added. “How we play, being aggressive and playing quickly obviously suits him. But his finishing ability, how clinical he is, is absolutely phenomenal. That’s a big testament to his concentration – when the opportunities come he’s always ready.”

Against Arsenal on Saturday, Vardy scored and assisted the second goal of the game. Coming up to the one-third mark of the season, Leicester pride themselves on an exceedingly fluid attack, built around James Maddison, Youri Tielemans, Ayoze Pérez, Harvey Barnes and spearheaded by Vardy himself.

With 29 goals scored throughout 12 games, only Manchester City (34) has tallied more this season. The call from the dugout for the Foxes’ attacking line to press and play to pass is paying dividends.

“The creativity we’ve got in the side is going to benefit the team massively,” added Vardy. “We’ve got to take each game as they come. It’s still early on in the season – it’s a long slog.”

“There’s a lot of momentum round the club and everyone’s enjoying themselves. That enjoyment comes with winning.”

The best of Vardy is happening now, and you don’t want to miss it.

Leicester City punishes sorry Arsenal

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Leicester City continued its fine home cooking with a straight-forward 2-0 defeat of unorganized Arsenal at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Foxes go second in the table with 26 points, a point more than Man City before the defending champs visit Liverpool on Sunday.

Arsenal is now eight points back of fourth place, sinking below fifth place Sheffield United on goal differential.


Three things we learned

1. Unai Emery‘s race is run: Yeah, it’s dangerous to make judgments on a week-to-week basis, but the Spaniard’s work at Arsenal has been tremendously disappointing. Opting for a 3-5-2 with Rob Holding, David Luiz, and Calum Chambers at the back, he demanded plenty from his midfield; Lucas Torreira and the usually strong Matteo Guendouzi failed to impress behind Mesut Ozil. He has no firm idea how to best deploy his talent, and again left Nicolas Pepe to rot on the bench while Leicester rang up a 2-0 lead.

2. Leicester onto something special, especially at home: There’s been luck along the way, but the Foxes have now taken 16 of 18 points at home during an unbeaten start to the season at King Power Stadium. Their proverbial tails are up and the style, freedom, and confidence of the opening goal tells you all you need to know about the vibe at KP this season. In the words of Arlo White… “Barnes… Tielemans… VARDY!!”

3. Leicester City built for style: If Rodgers’ Foxes are given room in the midfield, they are going to run through most teams. Arsenal opted to try and match the Foxes in fluidity and possession, and were unable to do so. Outdone in possession (52-48) and shots (19-8), Arsenal rarely looked prepared to challenge despite a couple early chances for Lacazette.

Man of the Match: Maddison will be the easy shout here, but Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi were magnificent in the center of the park. Any of the three works for us.


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Alexandre Lacazette missed an early chance for Arsenal, while James Maddison won a dangerous free kick for the Foxes. It came to nothing, bounding past the far post.

Lacazette stabbed wide after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cried for a handball off a prone Wilfred Ndidi.

James Maddison skimmed a free kick off the top of the bar in the 42nd minute, as a rain-soaked pitch saw increasing moments of opportunity.

Vardy sliced Leicester into a 68th minute lead with his 11th goal of the season, the clinical end of a clever bit of passing from Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes to set up the veteran Englishman.

Bernd Leno stopped a Vardy rocket moments later, but Maddison gave Leicester a cushion when he drilled a low shot through the legs of Bellerin for 2-0 in the 75th.

Leicester keeps flying with win at Crystal Palace

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Leicester City continues to surprise, collecting a 2-0 win over in-form Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

Caglar Soyuncu and Jamie Vardy scored for the Foxes, who go third with 23 points.

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The loss keeps Palace ninth, where they’ll stay unless Tottenham really punishes Everton late in the orning.

The Foxes are loving the Fortune, entering the day with 25 goals and 8 conceded despite an expected goals total of about 14 and 12!


Three things we learned

1. One bad moment punishes Palace: Roy Hodgson‘s well-drilled Eagles were doomed to defeat by a miscommunication on a set piece (their inability to score, obviously, also hurt). Gary Cahill and James Tomkins were out to lunch as Soyuncu into space and stooped to head a corner kick home. Maybe it was Soyuncu’s status as a true sleeper to score, but the chest high ball could’ve easily have been handled by either back had they moved with the Turkish center back.

2. Surprise scorer stoops to concur: Soyuncu entered the game with three club goals in almost 10,000 career minutes and none since scoring for Freiburg on Oct. 1, 2017 (He did score his lone Turkey goal against Tunisia in June 2018, for what it’s worth). One of five players to play all 990 minutes for the Foxes this season, he’s been a beast in defense especially in the air. Perhaps it’s a bit ironic that his winner came from his ducking to plant the ball in the goal, but you’d have to say it’s a richly-earned offensive reward from a man who does much of Leicester’s dirty work.

3. Black Swan Vardy delivers 10th goal: Clad in the black of Leicester City’s away strip, Jamie Vardy flapped his wings wildly after scoring the Foxes second goal. He is absolutely flying, turning back the clock to total 10 goals through 11 matches. It was a clever goal, too, a 1-2 with Demarai Gray hit cleanly with a left-foot. This wasn’t powerful Jamie Vardy having a party, rather a night at the opera. Good stuff.

Man of the Match: Soyuncu, with apologies to Guaita who kept it close.


Youri Tielemans led a robust rush down Palace’s left, setting up Harvey Barnes for a fifth minute shot that was collected by Vicente Guaita.

Wilfried Zaha did the same at the other end, but Jordan Ayew lashed wildly beyond the frame.

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The edge of the 19th minute saw Vardy race onto a James Maddison pass, roasting James Tomkins only to find himself denied by Guaita (and Gary Cahill’s denial of a passing avenue). Evans headed over goal on a following corner.

Ayoze Perez made a terrific steal and run deep into the Palace half, but Patrick Van Aanholt‘s terrific run closed ground and sent the danger out for a corner.

The match was cagey and hectic, Zaha winning a free kick off Ricardo before halftime.

Palace had a good run in the first few minutes of the second half, with Zaha bounding a shot wide.

Leicester found some momentum after that, with Evans heading a corner toward goal that Guaita slapped over the bar.

The Foxes scored off the ensuing corner, Soyuncu ducking to adjust for a low corner when Palace’s center backs miscommunicated on their mark.

And the insurance goal arrived when Tielemans, who was fantastic, hit an incisive pass to Vardy to begin a 1-2 with Gray that ended in the back of the net.

Rodgers: 9 goals is ‘incredible’

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Brendan Rodgers was criticized by some after leaving Celtic midseason for Leicester City. On Friday, he proved pretty much all the doubters that he was right for the job, and may actually be the best UK-born coach in the Premier League.

Rodgers team was prepared and confident, and Leicester City took Southampton to the sword with a 9-0 win on the road. It was the performance of the season, bigger than any Man City win or even Wolverhampton and Norwich’s wins over Man City, as the 9-0 result set Premier League records.

“[It was] a brilliant performance,” Rodgers told LCFC TV. “We obviously started the game very well, went in front, and they obviously had the man sent off, but how we worked that, in terms of how to play… we speak about that, in terms of strategy. If we ever go down to 10 men, how the game looks and how it works, and we’ve seen that away at Burnley at the end of last season and then we’ve had it twice now this season and we’ve capitalized on it very well.

“It’s a mentality to playing against 10 men, but also it’s a tactical idea and the players performed and executed that to a really, really high level. We looked a very good side, [a] very composed side tonight, and a very exciting team. To score nine goals in a Premier League game is incredible.”

Its a well deserved performance for Leicester City, a team that has been building and growing all season with a great mix of youth – like Ben Chilwell and Harvey Barnes, as well as experience – Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy.

Some Leicester City players reacted to the win after the game on social media.

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9-0. Ohhh what a nighttt🙌🏼💙

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Leicester City smashes Southampton for 9 goals

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Leicester City played like a club that knew it would jump into second place in the Premier League with a win. Southampton, simultaneously, played like a team with a first-class ticket to the Championship.

It was a blowout from early on, as a ruthless Leicester City thrashed ten-man Southampton, 9-0, on Friday at Southampton’s home stadium, St. Mary’s. Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy each scored a hat-trick and left back Ben Chilwell scored and assisted on two others.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With the win, Leicester City set a new record for the largest-margin of victory in the top division of English soccer in history, dating back to 1888. It was also Southampton’s biggest defeat in club history.

 


3 things we learned

1. Leicester City is for real: It’s still very early in the season, but this match in the cold and rain of Southampton proves one thing. Leicester City can get up for both the big games and the relegation scraps. Facing a Southampton team that was desperate for a win, Leicester City mowed them down with precision and clinical counter attacks.

2. Is Hasenhuttl still the answer?: Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived at Southampton with the squad in the relegation zone and expertly pulled them to safety by season’s end. Now, Saints find themselves in the same spot, only this time its with Hasenhuttl in charge. There’s still time to turn things around but it’s not looking good.

3. Barnes/Chilwell combination: For nearly the entire match, Leicester City’s attacks came down the left wing. This included stellar combination play between the 22-year-old Chilwell and 21-year-old Harvey Barnes in midfield. Keep an eye on these two as their chemistry continues to improve.


The contrast between the two clubs couldn’t have been more stark. Leicester City in the ascendency, supremely confident and ready to play in the cold, rainy, and windy conditions. Meanwhile, Southampton, and manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, looked shellshocked as the Saints leaked goal after goal.

Leicester City went on the offensive early and often, and it quickly paid dividends to play with an attacking system on the road.

After some slick passing in the middle of the park in the 10th minute, the ball fell to Chilwell at the top of the box. His cross found Barnes open in the middle of the box, who’s strike was saved by Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn. However, Chilwell kept running while Southampton ball watched, and he easily slotted home. Moments later, referee Andre Mariner went to VAR to check a foul earlier in the buildup, and ended up showing a straight red card to Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand. Video replay showed Bertrand colliding studs up into Perez’s shin. The red card only exasperated the dire situation for Southampton.

In the 17th minute, Chilwell found space again down the left side and crossed into the middle. Jan Valery’s poor clearance fell right to the feet of Youri Tielemans, who couldn’t miss. One minute later, a one-two between Tielemans and Perez resulted in a third goal as Leicester City was running rampant.

Chilwell and Perez again combined for another goal, this time in the 40th minute, and then just before halftime, Chilwell set up Vardy with an easy header goal to put Leicester City up 5-0 at the break.

In the second half, Leicester City continued its pressure campaign, and it led to more goals.

Despite two Southampton changes at halftime, Perez and Vardy scored back-to-back goals in the 57th minute and 58th months to make it 7-0.

James Maddison fired home a terrific free kick goal in the 85th minute as Leicester City took its foot off the gas, and then Vardy secured his hat-trick after drawing, and then converting, a penalty kick.

With the win, Leicester City move into second place in the Premier League for the time being, until Chelsea and Man City have a chance to play and move ahead again. Meanwhile for Southampton, they sit in the relegation zone with just eight points from 10 games. A Norwich City win would drop Southampton to 19th place.


This story will be updated
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