While Liverpool were serving notice of their attacking intentions under Jurgen Klopp by beating Manchester City 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium, and Manchester United claimed all three points at Watford via a last minute Troy Deeney own goal in a 2-1victory, the main headlines in a weekend of Premier League action were provided by Leicester City. The Foxes now lead the table by one point after being nominated as one of the relegation favourites during pre-season after retaining their top flight status last term by winning seven of their final nine games.
When Claudio Ranieri was appointed manager of Leicester during the summer following the dismissal of Nigel Pearson, several football experts viewed this as a retrograde step for the club with Pearson proving popular among the players. Yet Ranieri has instilled self-belief into a team which appears organised with clever movement off the ball as displayed in their 3-0 weekend victory at Newcastle.
Although Jamie Vardy earned the plaudits for equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record of scoring in ten successive games, several other Leicester players produced impressive displays in a solid team performance. N’Golo Kante, in particular, has proved to be an inspired summer signing from French Ligue 1 Caen, and the Newcastle players were unable to handle the pace and creativity of the diminutive central midfielder. He has featured in all 13 Premier League game for the Foxes this term and his performances may have been overshadowed by the exploits of Vardy.
As for Vardy, his success this season does offer hope for other lower league strikers eager to become an established top flight player. Beginning his senior career at Stocksbridge Park Steels in the South Yorkshire area of England when 20 years of age, his goalscoring attributes attracted the attention of Halifax and then Fleetwood who signed him in 2011. 31 league goals in 36 appearances for the fifth tier team convinced Leicester to spend £1 million on a striker unproven at the top level.
During the 2013-14 English Championship campaign, Vardy netted on 16 occasions to help the Foxes clinch promotion but by mid-March of their initial season back in the Premier League, Leicester were marooned at the foot of the table with Vardy scoring just one goal since the beginning of August and relegation deemed a certainty.
The rest is history as the Foxes secured top flight safety thereafter with Vardy netting on four occasions and Leicester have lost just one game this term when comprehensively beaten 5-2 on home soil by Arsenal.
After that result, it was generally assumed that Leicester would begin their downward slide into the lower depths of the Premier League but they have won six of their subsequent seven matches with a 2-2 draw at Southampton preventing a 100% league record since that defeat.
Leicester now face second placed Manchester United next weekend in a fixture which will test their credentials to further occupy top position in the Premier League. Few people will bet against the Foxes claiming another victory with Jamie Vardy potentially creating a new goalscoring record.
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