Brendan Rodgers

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.

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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At the half: Leicester scores 5 on ten-man Southampton

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Playing on the road, in rainy, windy conditions, appears to be no problem for Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City.

Through the first 20 minutes of its match against Southampton, Leicester City has absolutely mauled the hosts, scoring three times on Friday at St. Mary’s Stadium. To add insult to injury, Southampton left back Ryan Bertrand was shown a straight red card for a high boot into the shin of Leicester City’s Ayoze Perez. The tackle wasn’t noticed in the moment, but VAR caught it and referee Andre Mariner sent Bertrand for an early shower.

[WATCH LIVE: Leicester City v. Southampton]

Later in the first half, Leicester City scored again as Perez fired a strike in to add to Southampton’s misery. To add the icing on Leicester City’s cake, Jamie Vardy scored just a minute before halftime.

Heres a look at all the first half highlights, including goals from Ben Chilwell, Youri Tielemans, and Ayoze Perez, along with the red card.

 

Rodgers excuses Maddison’s behavior after England departure

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Leicester City and England midfielder James Maddison made headlines for the wrong reasons after he was pictured last week watching the England match at the Czech Republic from a casino.

Despite the negative attention from Maddison’s decision to watch the game at that venue, he has the backing of his club manager, Brendan Rodgers.

“The kid went away with the international team and took ill while he was away,” Rodgers said, via the Guardian. “He wanted to stay and hopefully be ready for the second game. But the England medical staff – which I can understand, as he had flu and they didn’t want that to spread to his teammates – decided it’s best for him to leave the camp. So he leaves, gets some tablets with our guys at the club, then he feels better.

“He watched the game at home on his own on the Friday and then goes out at half-time – probably he’ll make better decisions in his life but he went to a casino on his own to sit and watch the second half by a poker table. The suggestions are he left England purposelessly and then goes to a casino but that’s totally not the case at all. But his eyes have been opened now to the wider world in terms of what he did. He knows in hindsight he’s made a mistake.”

Considering all that went on during England’s international break, from the poor performance in Prague to the horrible racism endured in Bulgaria, this is a bit of a silly scandal. To be honest, as long as Maddison is taking care of his body and himself, why does it matter if he was at a casino, or a pub, or anywhere?

However, there’s no denying that the optics look bad. Folks didn’t know that he arrived to England camp with the flu, or a flu-like illness at least, and the England medical staff are right to send him away to make sure no one else gets sick. He may have been feeling better by Friday and wanted to get out of the house. I think we’ve all been there after being sick for a few days.

The most important lesson for Maddison is to learn that his actions, out of context, can be misunderstood. In terms of soccer, after Ross Barkley’s performance for England, Maddison will have to prove in his club form that he should still have a place in the England team for the near future. There’s only two more international dates left before the 2020 Euros, so time is running out for Maddison to make an impact to Southgate.

Leicester City rues stoppage time penalty in loss to Liverpool

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Brendan Rodgers can handle the late conceded penalty to Leicester City, but he thinks it may not have been awarded had the referee not blown the whistle on Saturday at Anfield.

“We are bitterly disappointed to concede the penalty and it did not look clear and obvious to me,” he said. “I think Sadio Mane made the most of the contact. I don’t think if it had not been given by the referee it would have been overturned by VAR. When the referee gives decisions it is hard for them to overrule it.”

[ MORE: Match recap | Klopp reacts ]

That it happened in stoppage time, and James Milner converted the opportunity to keep Liverpool’s perfect start to the season in order.

James Maddison had scored in the 80th minute to put the score line at 1-1. He was even more direct about Mane’s theatrics which, of course, came after a foul.

“Soft. It was very soft. I don’t think the contact warrants the way Sadio Mane went down but you have to respect that the referee’s decision stood in the end.”

Okay, but… Liverpool out shot Leicester City 18-2. The Foxes scored with their only shot on target. The result didn’t happen in the most satisfying faction, but the better team won on the day.