Demarai Gray

Rodgers ‘so proud’ of Leicester after making 9 changes, winning

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More than anything else, Leicester City simply needed a bit of a gift from the scheduling gods — to play any side other than Manchester City or Liverpool, their last two opponents — to get back to winning ways after three straight games without a victory.

[ MORE: Mourinho: Spurs keep making “same mistakes match after match” ]

Brendan Rodgers took a calculated, if not forced, risk by making nine changes to the team that was thrashed by the runaway Reds less than 48 hours prior, and it paid off in a big way: a 2-1 victory away to West Ham United on Saturday.

After the game, Demarai Gray, one of the nine players to come into the team and the one who scored the game-winning goal after having a penalty kick saved 45 minutes prior, was delighted for himself and the other members of the “fresh team” who took their chance and made the most of it — quotes from the BBC:

“We were in control for a lot of it. We let them back in it with the goal at the end of the first half but overall we controlled the game. We put out a fresh team, but it paid off.

“I was fine taking the penalty, I’m not really nervous in that situation. Those things happen, but it was important to react properly and I did and I got the goal and I was happy. It always means a lot to score and most importantly we got the three points at the end.

“Anytime you come in if you’re not playing so much you have to try and stamp your mark and get yourself in the team. We knew it was a quick turnaround and we knew we’d need a fresh XI, but it just shows the quality and depth we’ve got in the team.”

“We haven’t spoke about the title race or the top four. We just take each game as it comes and try and get three points and see where we are at the end of the season.”

Thanks to Man City’s loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday, Leicester are guaranteed to enter 2020 as the second-place side in the Premier League. They lead the two-time defending champions, who play on Sunday, by four points, though they also trail Liverpool, who also play on Sunday and have an extra game in hand, by 10 points.

Much-changed Leicester City wins at West Ham

Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images
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Ayoze Perez set up a pair of goals as Leicester City rebounded for a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Demarai Gray supplied the goals for the Foxes, who move four points clear of third place Man City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pablo Fornals scored for West Ham and under fire manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side sits just one point ahead of 18th place Aston Villa.


Three things we learned

1. Rodgers rewarded for risky rotation: Brendan Rodgers changed nine men from the group embarrassed by Liverpool on Boxing Day, and the makeshift XI very much deserved the three points. Demarai Gray missed a penalty kick and a few other chances were left for dead, but overall the Foxes had every claim to the win.

2. Hammers a real relegation threat: Manuel Pellegrini’s defense has been woeful, and his star attackers couldn’t bail them out Felipe Anderson did assist on Fornals’ goal, and was lively on the left wing, but Sebastien Haller has not been able to sharpen his attacking acumen since an early season hot streak and neither Manuel Lanzini nor a trio of substitutes combined to deliver much threat.

3. Ayoze the assister takes the reins: Longtime Newcastle star Ayoze Perez is a mere component of the King Power Stadium attack. He drove the attacking bus on Saturday in the absence of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison, the latter replacing him in the 64th minute after assists on both goals. He was two for two on dribbles and drew three fouls in a very strong performance.

Man of the Match: Perez.


Lukasz Fabianski gave away a terrible penalty to Kelechi Iheanacho, but then made a save on Demarai Gray’s poor penalty to keep it 0-0.

Iheanacho put Leicester in front when Ayoze Perez made an athletic play to keep a ball in bounds for a near-post headed goal.

Gray then tore into a shot from 12 yards that was nowhere near the mark.

West Ham had a nice chance bound wide when Sebastien Haller’s header was off frame, and the equalizer came moments later through Fornals.

The Spaniard arrived on the scene for a Felipe Anderson cutback to cue the bubbles.

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Gray made it 2-1 in the 56th minute, running onto a Perez through ball and curling around Fabianski.

Wes Morgan came close to making it 3-1 with a quick turn off a post-corner kick scrum, and Hamza Choudhury missed an 86th minute bid.

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.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

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.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

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.

Leicester City wins as new manager Rodgers looks on (video)

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  • Vardy scores 9th of season
  • Gray instrumental for Foxes
  • Leicester fired Puel earlier this week

Demarai Gray and Jamie Vardy scored as Leicester City topped Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 on Tuesday at the King Power Stadium.

New manager Brendan Rodgers was in the stands for the win, which saw the Foxes pull to within five points of seventh place Wolves and Watford.

Brighton is just three points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Gray’s goal came after 10 minutes, with Wilfried Ndidi winning possession for Leicester and sending Youri Tielemans on his way to setting up the opener.

It could’ve been 2-0 in short order had Mat Ryan not made a nice save on Gray.

That seemingly snapped Brighton to life, and Pascal Gross‘ deflected offering made Kasper Schmeichel react quickly to keep Leicester in front.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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Leicester doubled its lead through Vardy, who likely will have reveled in returning to the score sheet following his tumultuous relationship with the fired Claude Puel.

This was very much a team goal, with Tielemans, Ricardo Pereira, and James Maddison all part of the build-up.

That’s when Brighton pulled a goal back through Davy Propper, his first Premier League marker coming when he took a touch off a deflected cross and beat Schmeichel.

Lewis Dunk wasn’t too far from equalizing with a header, but Leicester held onto its lead as the match reached its final quarter hour.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Leicester City wins after honoring Srivaddhanaprabha

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Demarai Gray‘s second half goal set off emotional celebrations on a day of heavy hearts as Leicester City topped Cardiff City 1-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.

It was the first match for Leicester since the death of owner Vichai Sriddhanaprabha and four others in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium last week.

Cardiff is back in the drop zone with the loss, while Leicester City has 16 poinyd.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The match was non-descript aside from the opening memorial until Harry Maguire was injured, opening the door for Jonny Evans in the 27th.

Cardiff’s Victor Camarasa cranked a free kick off the woodwork after the half-hour mark.

Wilfred Ndidi couldn’t turn a solid header on goal off a 37th minute free kick.

Leicester should’ve won a penalty kick off a handball inside the six, but no call arrived in Wales.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

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Kasper Schimeichel made a fine save on Josh Murphy in the 52nd minute as Cardiff bid on an opener.

That’s when the Foxes went in front, Gray nodding a perfect Ben Chilwell cross into the goal and wheeling away in celebration to rip off his shirt. He revealed a message of love to Srivaddhanaprabha.