Ricardo Pereira

Wilfred Ndidi injury
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Influential Leicester City midfielder Ndidi out until February

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Leicester City will have to play January without one of its most influential performers.

Wilfred Ndidi missed Wednesday’s League Cup semifinal first leg versus Aston Villa and is out the rest of the month.

The Nigerian may require surgery for “a knock” suffered in training this week.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 23-year-old Ndidi has gone 90 minutes in 19 of 21 Premier League matches this season, missing one and coming off the bench in another.

He’s one of two PL players with 80-plus tackles this season, recording 85. Teammate Ricardo Pereira (83) is the other. Ndidi’s 55 interceptions also lead the PL.

Brendan Rodgers didn’t go into detail and says it isn’t “overly serious” (hockey coaches would be proud of the vagueness).

From The Leicester Mercury:

“He took a knock in training yesterday,” Rodgers said. “Unfortunately, he might need to have a slight operation tomorrow [Thursday] which will put him out for a few weeks. That’s just unfortunate. … But it’s not overly serious. Hopefully into February, he will be fit and ready to go again.”

It’s a massive loss for Leicester. Fortunately, the Foxes have a soft January which includes Southampton, Burnley, and West Ham in league play and a second leg against Villa.

Classy Man City humbles Leicester City

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Manchester City humbled second place Leicester City with a controlling 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan, and Gabriel Jesus scored for Man City, who pulls to within a point of the second place Foxes.

Jamie Vardy gave Leicester a surprise lead against the run of play, but the Foxes failed to make up ground on Liverpool.


Three things we learned

1. Lessons for Rodgers, Leicester City: The Foxes have been very good this season, no question about that, but for the second time this season they were shown how much work is left to keep up with the leaders. Liverpool barely beat Leicester in terms of the score line, but controlled the match.

This was worse for Brendan Rodgers‘ boys, who will meet Liverpool on Boxing Day.

Leicester was out shot 18-2 in the aforementioned loss to Liverpool.

This was probably worse. Man City had 63 percent of the ball and a 23-5 edge in shots. *Twelve* of those were on target as Kasper Schmeichel bailed out his men. Seventeen of the 23 attempts came inside the box.

Pep Guardiola surprised Brendan Rodgers by leaving Rodri out of the midfield in a bid to out-sly the Foxes, and Gundogan, De Bruyne, and Bernardo Silva were very, very creative. Wilfred Ndidi did his best to keep the group from being overrun, but the remaining midfielders were absent aside from Barnes’ great assist.

2. No one’s quite like KDB right now: There are better dribblers and players with quicker pace, but there is no Premier League attacker quite as complete as De Bruyne. The Belgian’s work on Man City’s deserved this goal showed just that. It wasn’t his only moment on the day, of course, but his show of power down the right side was unstoppable in setting up Jesus’ sliding goal. And the PL’s top assist man also strikes the ball about as pure as anyone.

3. Sensational Schmeichel saves Foxes from uglier outcome: Leicester City’s goalkeeper is the reason this one wasn’t a massive and deflating blowout for Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes. He stopped some pummeled shots from the champs, and kept Leicester alive for a point.

Man of the Match: Mahrez over De Bruyne and Schmeichel, but just.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Man City came out of the gates with vigor, and was nearly rewarded with a goal when Kevin De Bruyne blasted the far post in the 13th minute.

Riyad Mahrez stung a deflected shot to Kasper Schmeichel soon after, the hosts all over the Foxes. The Algerian then set up Gabriel Jesus for a half-chance that Schmeichel did very well to slap away from the line.

Vardy scored out of nothing when Harvey Barnes, fresh off a miscue, hit a sensational outside of the boot pass to find the industrious English striker on the break.

Vardy had blazed past Fernandinho, and the Man City defender hoped his goalkeeper would save him blushes. Ederson charged out hard, but Vardy’s little chip was perfect and found its way into the goal.

Mahrez continued to have his way with Ben Chilwell to set up the equalizer, his drive taking a wicked turn to beat Schmeichel. The Leicester keeper then did very well to stop a De Bruyne rocket in the 41st.

Sterling chased after a loose ball when Mike Dean played advantage moments later, and the Englishman sidestepped Ricardo Pereira to win a penalty.

James Maddison swung a hopeful shot through traffic and Ederson did well to palm it wide of the goal.

Leicester held by stubborn Norwich

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Leicester City’s run of Premier League wins came to an end at eight, as second from bottom Norwich City drew 1-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Teemu Pukki gave the Canaries the lead but an own goal from Tim Krul (which was originally given to Jamie Vardy) snatched a point for the Foxes who never got going.

With the point Leicester move on to 39 points for the season and remain in second place, while Norwich move on to 12 points and remain second from bottom.


3 things we learned

1. Unlikely title race probably over: They probably weren’t going to win the Premier League title, and now it’s all but over. Leicester are now 10 points behind leaders Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers‘ focus will be all about one thing: finishing in the top four. Leicester didn’t get going in attack at all but they remain unbeaten at home. This is still going to be a glorious season for the Foxes but they seemed lacking in energy against Norwich.

2. Pukki continues to have a party: If you watch Norwich regularly then you’ll now that Pukki hasn’t been getting too many chances to score. He’s scored in three of his last four games to take his PL tally to nine for the season and if Norwich do go down, plenty of other PL clubs will be lining up to take Pukki in the summer.

3. Vardy sharp as ever: He thought he had extended his scoring streak but Leicester’s goal went down as a Krul own goal. Vardy was sharp on Saturday, hitting the outside of the post after rounding Krul and nearly capitalizing on an error from the Norwich goalkeeper. His goalscoring streak is over but Vardy continues to bring the heat.

Man of the Match: Emiliano Buendia – At the heart of everything good about Norwich, played the ball through to Pukki for his goal and the Argentine midfielder has so much quality on the ball.


The Foxes went close to scoring early on as Kelechi Iheanacho tested Tim Krul and then Youri Tielemans hit the woodwork.

Tielemans cut inside and his shot looked like a routine save for Krul but Norwich’s goalkeeper spilled the ball onto his own post and then collected it before Vardy flew in.

But then Norwich took the lead as Emiliano Buendia drove towards goal and played in top goalscorer Pukki, who kept his composure to slot home past Kasper Schmeichel.

VAR then checked out an incident as Todd Cantwell was annoyed with Iheanacho after a fiery exchange between the Canaries and Foxes players after poor sportsmanship from the Leicester forward who failed to put the ball out of play.

Cantwell then went close as Norwich but Leicester equalized before the break from a corner. James Maddison whipped in a corner to the near post which Vardy flicked on and Krul pushed the ball into his own net to make it 1-1.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Vardy rounded Krul in the second half but his shot from a tight angle hit the post as the Foxes huffed and puffed against a stubborn Norwich side.

Leicester’s leading goalscorer almost guided an effort into the far corner from Chilwell’s cross.

Maddison then whipped in a free kick which Wilfred Ndidi headed off target.

Late on Norwich poured forward in search of a winner as Pukkie was denied by Ricardo Pereira who timed his tackle to perfection, and from the resulting corner Christoph Zimmermann‘s header was blocked.

Substitute Harvey Barnes spurned a great chance late as the Foxes saw their run of wins end.

Brendan Rodgers has Leicester City whirring

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Leicester City is a top Premier League club.

Say it again with me. We’re doing this Good Will Hunting style, until you truly believe the words you are repeating.

Leicester City is a top Premier League club.

Four years after winning the title against astronomical odds in one of the most historic seasons in sports history, Brendan Rodgers has cemented Leicester City as anything but a fluke. This club is for real.

[ MORE: Leicester City tops Aston Villa ]

After three mid-table finished that allowed the club to institute a sustainable model of player acquisition, talent development, and asset maximization, the Foxes are back near the top of the table and look a club that has the ability to secure itself as a leading force in the English top flight.

This summer, the club put the finishing touches on two critical components of the plan, two moments that may prove defining decisions in the club’s history. The first was selling Harry Maguire and replacing him with young Caglar Soyuncu, a move which not only netted the club a massive sum of money, but also cemented Leicester City as a talent development hub capable of producing talent, offloading for a huge profit, and not losing a step on the pitch.

The second was replacing Claude Puel with Brendan Rodgers. Puel, in charge of Leicester City for two years, was caught in between instituting his preferred possessional style of play and changing the culture of the squad, a hesitation which cost the Frenchman his job. Last season, Leicester City was seventh in the league in passes per game but fifth in accurate long-balls per game, a testament to his inability to decide the squad’s identity. This season, Leicester City is fourth in passes per game behind Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool, and fourth in total shots per game, all while sitting ninth in accurate long-balls (for what it’s worth, Liverpool is 1st in that category while Man City is third, largely down to their exorbitant possessional advantages). This team has completed the transformation Puel wanted but never achieved – they are a dominant Premier League side that wants to dominate its opponents.

Even deeper, the numbers agree. Jamie Vardy is scoring at otherworldly levels, especially for a player at 32 years old. His 16 goals lead the league by six, and even with his outrageous finishing ability (he has a +5.47 differential between actual goals scored and expected goals scored, nearly double anyone else – Harry Kane and Teemu Pukki are second at +2.92), he is still second in the league in total xG behind Marcus Rashford.

James Maddison, Ricardo Pereira, and Wilfried Ndidi are all among the top 5 in WhoScored player rating this season, while Vardy sits seventh. Soyuncu ranks sixth in the league by WhoScored among central defenders in his first full Premier League season at just 23 years old, while his center-back partner Jonny Evans is eighth in his 13th campaign in the English top flight. Pereira is a tackling machine who gets far less screen time than new Manchester United signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka, owner of a reputation for that exact skill which earned him a big-money move. Ndidi, meanwhile, continues to rise in prominence as he leads the Premier League in tackles and ranks third in interceptions.

Sure, Rodgers inherited a fantastic squad, but the list of players falls well short of screaming “second in the table” and the former Liverpool manager has metamorphosed them from budding talents to world-class players. He has mixed young talent with veteran experience flawlessly, making sure to keep title veterans Wes Morgan, Cristian Fuchs, and Marc Albrighton involved despite their declining roles.

The club has also found itself the beneficiary of a few unique circumstances. Most notably, they have avoided significant injury to this point in the season. A large part of that has been Vardy’s international retirement which (at least, for the time being) has kept him fresher than most, whereas double duty has weighed down other top goalscorers in the league. Only Matthew James is currently sidelined for the Foxes who remain one of the healthiest teams in the league. They also don’t have European play to worry about, a proven ingredient for domestic success.

Still, Rodgers is the source of much of their continued improvement. The Foxes have conceded just nine total goals all year, the least of any English top flight side, and are the only team in the league not to have conceded from a set-piece this Premier League season, a testament to their rigid and well-drilled discipline. And they have scored gobs of late goals under the current boss – they scored 10 goals inside the final 15 minutes of his first eight games in charge of the club, and this season they lead the league with five goals inside the final five minutes (even with Manchester City). Against Aston Villa he managed to pair Vardy with Kelechi Iheanacho up front, a prospect that left Puel utterly baffled.

It’s a shame this team isn’t among those competing in Europe this campaign, as they could surely challenge the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich for a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals, but they will almost certainly get the chance next season. They get a chance to play with the Premier League big boys soon during the holiday season, with back-to-back matches against Liverpool and Man City just after Christmas Day.

Claude Puel just couldn’t get it right. Vardy said earlier this season that Puel’s training sessions were “too slow” to the point where it was consequently “difficult for us to be fast and aggressive in matches.” That’s not a problem any longer. Brendan Rodgers has this team absolutely soaring at breakneck speeds towards a long-term place among the Premier League’s elite. The Foxes’ transformation from one-hit wonder to sustainable elite-level success should be a case study for other clubs looking to is still in progress, but has reached the final phase.

Eight games in a row they have won now, the most in team history. Brendan Rodgers called Sunday’s win “a historic day for the club,” but the picture is much bigger than that.

“Leicester City is a top Premier League club.” Say it again until you believe the words you are reciting. Know that they are true.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 15

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The congested schedule means we’ve had two match days since we last took stock of the Premier League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

We’ve got a brand new Top Five (well, in terms of the four behind eventual champions Liverpool) and two teams dipping to season lows on our ol’ litmus test.

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Watford — As many losses as goals (9), and that figure is one more than the Hornets’ total points. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise to see them on the verge of full-time manager No. 3, as full-time manager of Watford is a bit more like seasonal help.
Last week: 18
Season high: 17
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Crystal Palace

19. Everton — A top half team in terms of talent seeks the manager who can organize its way out of the drop zone. Might it be this guy? Better than the alternatives.
Last week: 17
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 5-2 at Liverpool
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Chelsea

18. Norwich City — The first team to 10 losses is four points shy of 17th.
Last week: 16
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Southampton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Sheffield United

17. West Ham United — A gigantic ball of “blah.” Should thank Everton for existing so people aren’t more focused on this particular collection of currently squandered talent.
Last week: 20
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Wolves
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday v. Arsenal

16. Bournemouth — It’s just not good enough, is it? To have held onto Callum Wilson and get another step up in class from Philip Billing and still be so wildly inconsistent.
Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool

15. Southampton — It really feels like the Danny Ings revival show could rival any story for the best individual one in the league this season. Happy to see Ralph Hasenhuttl get some good performances, as he was being scapegoated in a hurry.
Last week: 19
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Newcastle United

14. Aston Villa — Allowing a league-worst 18.8 shots per game, but staying in the mix thanks to Tom Heaton and Tyrone Mings.
Last week: 13
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Chelsea
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Leicester City

13. Arsenal — The Gunners back line gets a lot of heat, and rightly so, but maybe a little help from the midfield would be nice considering Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz have combined for 39 blocks. Sokratis is third in the PL and Luiz fourth.
Last week: 12
Season high: 4
Season low: 12
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday at West Ham United


12. Brighton and Hove Albion — First win ever away to Arsenal is another feather in the cap of Graham Potter, especially nice considering they had lost four on the bounce.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-1 at Arsenal
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Wolves

11. Newcastle United — No one is punching above its weight more than Steve Bruce‘s Magpies, and they’ve been aided in a big way by Martin Dubravka. The Slovakian goalkeeper has a league-best 44 saves from shots inside the 18.

Also, according to Understat’s xG numbers, they should’ve lost to the Blades. In fat, the xG table says they should be dead last. Life’s funny like that. It’s Steve Bruce’s world and we’re living in it.
Last week: 15
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-0 at Sheffield United
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Southampton

https://understat.com/match/11786

10. Sheffield United — Just lost for the first time since September. That’s amazing.
Last week: 6
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Newcastle United
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Norwich City

9. Burnley — Striker Chris Wood has been credited with 12 “big chances missed” by Sofascore, more than any player in the league.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 4-1 v. Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. Saturday at Spurs

8. Spurs — Jose Mourinho learned Wednesday that Moussa Sissoko is nice for the squad, but not to be leaned on.

Last week: 9
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Manchester United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Burnley

7. Crystal Palace — Wilfried Zaha‘s 68 dribbles are 13 more than anyone else in the league.
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Watford

6. Manchester United — Ole had himself a moment in outfoxing Mourinho without Pogba or Martial.
Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Spurs
Up next: 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Man City

5. Chelsea — We told you, Frank. WE TOLD YOU.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Everton

4. Manchester City — Aymeric Laporte is still two months away and that’s two months too long.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 4-1 at Burnley
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Manchester United

3. Wolves — This is going to sound nuts, but there are days I’d rather see Liverpool on my schedule than Wolves. The Reds are obviously better weaponized, but Wolves come at you in waves, man, and Nuno Espirito Santo is doing it without his best center back.
Last week: 5
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-0 v. West Ham United
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Brighton and Hove Albion

2. Leicester City — How’s this for an unsustainable stat? Wilfred Ndidi and Ricardo Pereira rank first and second in the league in tackles, with 67 and 62.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Watford
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Aston Villa
1. Liverpool — Big Virgil Van Dijk is on track to become the first Premier League player to complete 1000 passes this season, currently at 953.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 5-2 v. Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Bournemouth