Somehow workmanlike and scintillating at the same time, the captivating Foxes put Liverpool to the sword in midweek. Leicester’s build up play was at times Barcelona-esque—yet Vardy’s first goal (and contender for goal of the season) was from a Mahrez long ball. There’s no second guessing Ranieri’s side, and now that they’ve added defensive solidity to their game, winning the title is not the mad fantasy it might appear. Manchester City had a battle with Sunderland over 3 points in their last match, with Aguero’s deadly finishing the difference-maker. They gave up plenty of chances against the Black Cats though—Leicester will not need nearly so many to punish the Citizens.
18 appearances in the Premier League later and we are no closer to really understanding Otamendi—at times he looks every inch a top class defender, and then at others seems to be put off by the aggression of opposition forwards. Individually Otamendi has had more good days than bad, but he is often let down by his central defensive partner, whether that’s Demichelis or Mangala.
Leicester’s great victory of the transfer window was keeping their stars out of the clutches of bigger sides—Mahrez is on the radar of every team in Europe, and the rumour mill will very soon begin churning out stories connecting the Algerian to Munich, Madrid, or Barcelona. Mahrez is playing at a level that makes him attractive even at prices of £40 million or more, his partnership with Vardy bringing goals and assists in equal measure. The Foxes have a wealthy owner, but it’s unlikely they can match six figure weekly salaries on offer at the biggest clubs. Enjoy seeing Mahrez in a Leicester shirt while you can.
The Englishman’s two goals against Liverpool were prime examples of his ability and confidence in front of goal. Vardy’s first goal- a superbly taken strike that beat Mignolet quite comfortably—the second a close range finish. In both cases the striker was able to make Liverpool’s defence look foolish, and considering how shaky Manchester City have been at times this season it is likely Vardy should get a chance or two at testing Joe Hart. It isn’t just his pace and acceleration but the skill he has with the ball- even when he’s at full sprint- that is separating him from most other strikers in Europe. It’s hard not to salivate at the idea of this Leicester side playing one of the elite European teams.
Sunderland would have scored—maybe even won the game—had it not been for Joe Hart’s fine goalkeeping. It seems mad that a side which has spent so much on defenders still can’t rely on them to be consistent—and should need their goalkeeper to save their bacon so regularly. Hart won’t mind though. Every time he makes an astounding save he reminds Roy Hodgson of his quality, anticipating the European Championships with Jack Butland breathing down his neck.