Jamie Vardy is more effective in the No9 role than the England skipper, Leicester can challenge for the top four and other things learned from Leicester 1 Manchester United 1
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Vardy is an electrifying forward
Forget the 11-on-the-bounce record, magnificent as it is. Vardy is a striker out of the top drawer. Once raw and erratic, now he is potent and electrifying. All eyes were on the 28-year-old former non-league man and, in truth, he fed on scraps for most of the game. But the one true chance that came Vardy’s way – courtesy of a counter-attack from a United corner – was finished so emphatically that all debates about his calibre are surely over. Indeed, the Leicester man looks far more effective as a No9 than Wayne Rooney, who has looked so laboured in that position for his club this season.
Rooney’s woes continue
How Rooney would die for the pace that Vardy – and his team-mate Martial – possesses. Louis van Gaal has tried various tactics to coax more from his skipper, including playing him as the spearhead, the playmaker and the midfield creator. None have yet worked. The United skipper was used as a secondary striker behind Anthony Martial at the King Power Stadium but delivered another fairly nondescript performance. He was substituted late on after suffering a knock but the withdrawal could easily have been prompted by his on-pitch mediocrity.
Schweinsteiger is Van Gaal’s No1 midfielder
The United manager has fitted three into two this season as he has rotated Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick for the central midfield positions. With Carrick’s ankle injury sustained on international duty proving less serious than originally feared, it was Schneiderlin who made way for the fit-again England man. Having arrived in the summer with a track record of lengthy absences, the Germany World Cup winner has been involved in all of United’s 14 Premier League clashes. Moreover, he showed that he is not just a water carrier by proving his effectiveness in the opposition box for the second consecutive weekend by heading in the equalising goal.
Leicester can challenge for top four
This season holds huge potential for Claudio Ranieri’s team. Second in the table after 14 matches, is there a bigger and more welcome football story in Europe? Can they keep it going? Yes, they can. To an extent. Leicester do not have the players to challenge for the Premier League but, given the quality of the teams in the top flight in what has been a mediocre campaign overall, the underdogs can spring a surprise. Much depends upon Vardy maintaining his form and fitness – and the club ignoring offers for their main man in January – but Riyad Mahrez is also a huge threat on the right flank and the team’s counter-attacking style is superbly well honed. They need to eradicate their defensive weaknesses at set pieces, which was exposed once again today, but there is much to admire about this side.
United are crying out for pace
Watching Leicester cut the visitors to ribbons on the counter-attack for the opening goal, it once again became clear how one-paced this United team is. Aside from summer signings Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay, there is a chronic absence of players who can swiftly move through the gears. This is perhaps the team’s biggest failing.