Jamie Vardy

Leicester City - Crystal Palace recap
Photo by JASON CAIRNDUFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Leicester City snaps out of funk to pound Palace

Leave a comment

Leicester City is in the win column for the first time since the Premier League came back from the coronavirus pause.

The Foxes beat Crystal Palace 3-0 on Saturday at the King Power Stadium, the club and its star striker getting out of respective and collective ruts.

LEICESTER CITY – CRYSTAL PALACE FULL MATCH REPLAY

Jamie Vardy had a rough day for 76 minutes but, as good strikers do, made the most of two late chances off Harvey Barnes passes after Kelechi Iheanacho broke the deadlock just after halftime.

Leicester keeps hold of third place in moving onto 58 points, while Palace’s 42 points and three-goal loss sends it behind 12th place Newcastle on goal differential.

Leicester visits Arsenal on Tuesday before running for the finish line versus Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United.


Three things we learned

1. Brendan Rodgers needed that: Leicester still may fall out of the top four but they have it all in front of them to defend the house. Part of that battle is beating the two lowest challengers on the schedule — Bournemouth and Palace — and they did that well on Saturday despite the absence of James Maddison. The other part of the equation is four top seven challengers. Can they get enough points to return to the UCL?

2. Vardy’s sleepy party still a success: Jamie Vardy did not have a great game despite getting into a number of glorious positions. He did, however, retake sole possession of first place the Golden Boot race when he scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season late at the KP (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has 19 and plays later Saturday).

Vardy reaches the 20-goal mark for the third time in his Premier League career, the marker his 100th in the competition. Can the 33-year-old find enough magic to hold off all comers?

3. Palace prepared for vacation: Safe and deprived of European hopes by their big loss to Liverpool, Roy Hodgson’s Eagles just didn’t have much fire on Saturday. Perhaps it’s unfair to say they didn’t have the desperation of Leicester, but that’s how it looked on the pitch in Leicester.

Man of the Match

Youri Tielemans — Barnes was very good with two assists but Tielemans deserved better than his lone assist for another tidy and occasionally spectacular day in the heart of the action. He was credited with two key passes, four tackles, and the drawing of three fouls (SofaScore).


Leicester City – Crystal Palace recap

Kelechi Iheanacho couldn’t quite get on the end of an eighth-minute cross as the Foxes looked better than the visitors at the outset.

Leicester City’s James Justin saw a deflected shot pound the crossbar and fired wide with a second chance moments later.

Jamie Vardy was played into the box by Youri Tielemans’ fine pass in the 17th minute, but the Premier League Golden Boot race leader’s pass back into the mix was blocked by Mamadou Sakho.

Ayoze Perez nearly had it 1-0 when Christian Benteke did a poor job clearing a corner kick, but Sakho made a terrific block near the penalty spot.

Luka Milivojevic spun a free kick just wide of the upper 90 in the 32nd minute, Palace edging into the match.

Vardy’s difficult run of form continued with a poor first touch while turning into the box, a chance he often turns into a goal.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Leicester went ahead through Iheanacho. Tielemans got a rightful assist when Iheanacho took advantage of a sleeping Vicente Guaita to poke the ball home in the 49th minute.

Vardy missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 but then got the job done moments later when Sakho slipped and allowed Harvey Barnes to feed the 20-goal man on the doorstep.

Wilfried Zaha blew a chance to make it interesting late when he popped a terrific Andros Townsend cross over the frame.

Barnes slipped a delightful pass to Vardy for a trademark cutting run and finish for 3-0.

Premier League Golden Boot race

Leave a comment

Will England have a new name on an illustrious list when the Premier League Golden Boot race is run next month?

Every winner since the 2014-15 season is still within a rich vein of form from renewed acquaintances. with the honor, but six of the league’s top ten scorers would be first time top dogs on the PL season goals list.

[ MORE: Werner to Chelsea official ]

That includes the leader, Jamie Vardy. The next three names on the list are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Salah, and Sergio Aguero, and they all have a Golden Boot in their lockers.


Jamie Vardy, Leicester City (19)

As Vardy goes, so do the Foxes. He scored at least one goal in every match of Leicester’s eight-match winning streak this fall but his brace against Villa on March 9 was his lone appearance on the dance card since the calendar turned to 2020. Four of Vardy’s goals have been penalties, so he’s got that going for him if the VAR is kind to Leicester.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal (17)

Aubameyang isn’t having his best year, no doubt down to some inconsistency from his playing partners. Arsenal still faces three of four PL clubs to have conceded 50 or more goals this season.

Mohammed Salah, Liverpool, and Sergio Aguero, Man City (16)

Aguero has won this award before and he’s among the favorites to do it again given he’s three goals from the top despite playing at least 800 fewer minutes then the men level or ahead of him.

Throw in the fact that City’s 76 expected goals are 14 higher than the field and you’ve got the recipe for something special. Aguero and teammate Gabriel Jesus are the runaway leaders for xG/90 amongst qualified players.

Salah’s been very good since the start of December, scoring 10 of his goals and adding three assists in that span. He’s the league leader in expected goals (15.54) just ahead of snakebit teammate Roberto Firmino (15.49 xG, 8 goals).

Danny Ings, Southampton (15)

Like Vardy, it would be silly to rule out the clear target man for a Premier League club. Ings has only scored once in his last seven as Saints hit a rough patch before the coronavirus pause, but maybe time’s healed his form.

Marcus Rashford, Man Utd, and Sadio Mane, Liverpool (14)

Rashford has been a monster when healthy and trails only Aguero and Jesus in xG per game. He’s also United’s penalty taker so there’s that.

Mane’s a powerful force but he’s also in the business of sharing goals at Liverpool. It’s difficult to project him winning the Premier League Golden Boot race.

The field (13 or fewer)

13 goals
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton
Raul Jimenez, Wolves
Tammy Abraham, Chelsea

12 goals
Raheem Sterling, Man City

11 goals
Anthony Martial, Man Utd
Chris Wood, Burnley
Harry Kane, Spurs
Teemu Pukki, Norwich City

10. goals
Gabriel Jesus, Man City
Richarlison, Everton

VIDEO: Inside the Mind of Jamie Vardy

Leave a comment

Our ‘Inside the Mind’ series sees our NBC Sports talent sit down with a plethora of star names from across the Premier League to discuss the finer points of the game and this edition focuses on Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy.

The England international chatted with our own and Leicester native Arlo White in January to discuss a plethora of topics.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Vardy, one of the Premier League’s highest goal scorers over the past half decade, describes his journey from the eighth tier of English soccer to lifting a Premier League title in his own words.

The Leicester star, who has scored 188 goals during his 13-year career, also reveals the favorite goal of his career.

Vardy celebrates end of goal drought, explains Reina confrontation

Jamie Vardy
Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jamie Vardy scored his first goal in months and had a few choice words for Aston Villa goalkeeper Pepe Reina regarding the successful penalty kick at King Power Stadium.

“The keeper said I was going down the middle, and I was,” Vardy said. “He tried to call my bluff.”

The goal was the first of two for Vardy, who came off the bench to help Leicester City snap a four-match league winless run in a 4-0 demolition of sloppy Aston Villa on Monday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Leicester had 65 percent possession and pretty much bossed the Villans. The Foxes boasted a 15-4 shots edge and took nine corner kicks to Villa’s zero.

It was a complete performance, something the Foxes have failed to produce for much of 2020.

Speaking of the calendar, Vardy’s league-best 18th and 19th goals of the Premier League season were his first since Dec. 21.

“We needed to first and foremost put in a performance we knew we were capable of,” Vardy said on NBCSN after the match. “The last few weeks it hasn’t been there. … I had gone through a little spell where I’d not score, but you need to carry on the training pitch and take it into games.”

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers agreed with Vardy’s assessment of the match in its entirety.

“As the game went on we looked much more like how we’ve been for most of the season,” Rodgers said. “The resilience of the players and the effort was brilliant.”

The Foxes now own an eight-point advantage on fifth place. There’s a 10-point gap on sixth. The win likely will put them in the Champions League.

Vardy injury ‘not as serious as first thought,’ says Rodgers

Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everyone at Leicester City is breathing a huge sigh of relief after receiving the timetable for the injury suffered by star striker Jamie Vardy on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

Manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed after the game that it wasn’t a hamstring injury, as originally feared, but rather a “twinge in his glute.” That was the first bit of “good news,” according to Rodgers.

Now comes the really good stuff for the Foxes: Vardy will be unavailable for Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round clash with EFL Championship side Brentford, but he could return to action for the second leg of the EFL Cup semifinals against Aston Villa on Tuesday — quotes from Sky Sports:

“He’s not available for the weekend and there will be a question mark for Tuesday, although it’s certainly not as serious as we first thought.

“It’s not his hamstring, it’s a glute, so we’re hopeful for Tuesday, but there’s a little bit of work to do. He’ll get some work in with the medical team. He’ll stay with them for the weekend.

“He’s much better than directly after the game, when he was tight and sore and struggling to move. But today he was much better.”

Throw in the fact that Leicester currently sit third in the Premier League and Champions League qualification is looking highly likely for next season (they hold a 14-point lead on fifth-place Manchester United with 14 games left to play), and they have truly dodged a bullet on this one.