Wilfred Ndidi

Leicester City smashes West Ham, loses Vardy

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Leicester City snapped a two-match losing run with a 4-1 defeat of West Ham United on Wednesday.

The third-place Foxes move to 48 points, but lost Jamie Vardy and Nampalys Mendy to first half injuries.

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Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira set each other up for goals and Ayoze Perez scored twice late in the win.

Mark Noble scored a penalty of his own for the losing side, whose 23 points are out of the drop zone on goal differential. The Irons have played one fewer match than everyone but Liverpool.


Three things we learned

1. Barnes rides high:  Harvey Barnes is having an uneven season in the Premier League, like many to just turn 22. But the youngster is certainly on an upswing, having scored in a weekend loss at Burnley and collecting a goal and an assist on Wednesday. His six assists lead the Foxes, and may just be the tip of the iceberg.

2. More of the same from West Ham (and that’s not good): David Moyes‘ West Ham looks a lot like Manuel Pellegrini‘s West Ham, which isn’t a surprise given the latter’s better reputation in recent seasons. It’s a draw and two losses since the 4-0 win over an abject Bournemouth, and the Irons’ match-in-hand on the relegation field is against Liverpool (who they still face twice). Felipe Anderson is set to miss a month and that won’t ease concerns either.

3. Vardy injury, defense a big concern: The league’s leading scorer got his leg stretched out on the pitch and was favoring his gluteal area in the first half, eventually limping off the field. Losing him would ask a lot of Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Foxes also would be wrong to overlook another goal conceded, even if it came by controversial penalty. Leicester has conceded in seven of eight league matches,  and five included multiple goals. It’s not a huge worry in a 4-1, but a trend indeed.

Man of the Match: Barnes.


Jamie Vardy cut into the box early but his first touch betrayed him and couldn’t get full power on a shot to Darren Randolph.

The in-form Barnes got the Foxes in front by turning a Ricardo Pereira dinked pass into the open goal.

An injury to Nampalys Mendy accelerated the return of Wilfred Ndidi to the pitch, the midfielder returning in the 34th minute.

Vardy was then forced off the pitch with an apparent back injury, bringing Kelechi Iheanacho into the fold in the 44th minute.

Barnes then returned the favor to Pereira, who whistled his effort into the goal in the fifth minute of first half stoppage time.

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But hold on.

Noble needed just five second half minutes to pull one back for David Moyes’ men, as Sebastien Haller won a suspect penalty off Ndidi.

Kasper Schmeichel made a fine save on Michail Antonio to keep it 2-1.

Leiceste regained control and looked the only threat to make it 3-1 after that, with Perez converted a penalty after Angelo Ogbonna fouled Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Nigerian forward then set up Perez for his second to salt away the win.

Africa Cup of Nations moved, Premier League clubs impacted

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The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon has been moved and it is likely to impact several Premier League clubs.

In a statement the African Football Confederation (CAF) confirmed the switch, as they had previously agreed to hold the tournament in the summer (just like in 2019) but due to the hot weather conditions in host nation Cameroon in the summer time, the Cameroon Football Federation has switched the dates to Jan. 6 to Feb. 6, 2021.

The deputy general secretary of CAF, Tony Baffoe, revealed more details about why the dates have been switched.

“We have reviewed the period of the competition as requested by the Cameroonian party due to unfavourable climatic conditions during the period initially slated. After listening to the various arguments and viewpoints – and in particular from the Cameroonian meteorological authorities, the coaches and players – the representatives of the AFCON organising committee, which received the mandate from CAF Executive Committee to take the decision, has granted this request. A detailed reported shall be presented to the members of the Executive Committee during its next session on 6 February.”

That means the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, to name a few, would be missing for over a month of the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Liverpool would be the Premier League most impacted with Salah and Mane potentially joined by Naby Keita, while Leicester City would potentially lose Nigerian duo Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho, plus Southampton’s Moussa Djenepo and Sofiane Boufal would be unavailable.

Of course, this over a year out and teams haven’t even qualified for the tournament yet, but this will seriously impact the plans of Premier League clubs.

AFCON tournaments have previously been held in January to February but switched to a summer model for the 2019 edition in Egypt, with clubs across Europe delighted by that decision as they were losing star players at a key part of the season.

Leicester’s Rodgers: Slow start ‘my fault,’ credits Choudhury for revival

Leicester City manager Rodgers reacts to draw
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Leicester City’s Wembley status is far from settled after the Foxes struggled to break down Aston Villa on Wednesday.

The Foxes drew Villa 1-1 at the King Power Stadium and will have to win at Villa Park on Jan. 28 to earn a place in the March 1 final.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers said the performance was rough, but that the tie is “set up perfectly” for the Foxes.

“It was all a bit slow,” said Rodgers, via the BBC. “We didn’t press the game enough. The goal we conceded we have to be stronger. But we stayed calm and speeded up the game, made more runs off the ball. Second half we were very good, they made some great blocks to stop us winning the game. Credit to them, they made it very difficult.”

The Foxes had their excuses for a rough night. Portions of the match were played in a downpour, and one of the club’s ever-present forces missed out.

Wilfred Ndidi missed the match for Leicester City and will be absent for the next month. Rodgers said he made the wrong move in adjusting to life without Ndidi. He rectified that at halftime, pulling Dennis Praet for an enforcer.

Hamza Choudhury made a huge difference, it’s my fault that I didn’t start him tonight,” Rodgers said, via the BBC. “We could see that we needed him and he gave us our identity back. Wilfred Ndidi is so good for us, he’s colossal, and we were too slow and not aggressive without him or Hamza.”

Choudhury should prepare to be busy, and his 22 years should allow him to deputize for most if not all of Ndidi’s absence.

The Foxes have a soft January which includes Southampton, Burnley, and West Ham in league play and a second leg against Villa.

Leicester, Villa draw League Cup semi first leg

Leicester City and Aston Villa League Cup first leg
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Aston Villa had little of the ball but made one of its lone chances count in a 1-1 League Cup semifinal first leg draw with Leicester City on Wednesday.

Frederic Guilbert scored a 28th-minute goal with Villa’s first shot attempt at King Power Stadium, a lead that lasted on Kelechi Iheanacho‘s 74th-minute equalizer.

The sides meet again on Jan. 28 at Villa Park. Away goals are not weighted over two legs.

Leicester City outshot the visitors 21-3 and held 70 percent of the ball.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Wilfred Ndidi missed the match for Leicester City and will be absent for the next month.

Villa’s teenage American striker Indiana Vassilev came off the bench for the second-straight match after making his first team debut in the FA Cup versus Fulham over the weekend.

Orjan Nyland made a wonderful save on James Maddison moments before Villa went in front.

The 29-year-old Nyland will be called upon plenty this season with Tom Heaton requiring surgery for knee ligament damage.

Anwar El Ghazi set up Guilbert’s clinical finish with a pass that left Ben Chilwell out to lunch. It hasn’t been a great few weeks for the England left back.

Leicester City was all over the Villans, who were buoyed by another standout day from center back Tyrone Mings.

The Villa man lunged to block Iheanacho’s late effort, but couldn’t get a piece of the ball on its way past Nyland.

Influential Leicester City midfielder Ndidi out until February

Wilfred Ndidi injury
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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.