Who is this bloke who’s sent Leicester City to the top of the table and tied Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record for goals in consecutive games? Calum Henderson investigates this and more in the Premier League Week.
In the second minute of first half added time at St James’ Park Leicester City’s number 9 Jamie Vardy played an expansive one-two with his striking partner Leonardo Ulloa, passing the ball from the left touchline and receiving it back just inside the box. With two touches he jinked inside Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko and with his third beat the keeper at his near post for the game’s first goal – his 13th of the season, and one which would ultimately send Leicester City to the top of the Premier League table.
The game was the tenth in a row in which the 28-year-old has found the back of the net, equaling Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record set with Manchester United in 2003. Who the hell is this guy?
Only a couple of seasons ago Vardy was battling Waikato’s Chris Wood for a spot in the Leicester City starting XI in their Championship-winning season. This timeline charts his rise to Premier League legend, starting at non-league Stocksbridge Park Steels in 2007. It reads a bit like a real life version of someone playing FIFA in Manager Mode (Fleetwood Town!)
What’s the man’s secret? Part of it could be Leicester City’s state-of-the-art, minus-110F degree cryotherapy chamber he’s been practically living in in order to recover from injuries this season. “I don’t think even some of the brainiest men in the world would understand the name of stuff [the physios] been doing,” Vardy told the Guardian’s Louise Taylor after his team’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United last weekend.
The Costa success
Elsewhere in the league last weekend, a Diego Costa strike helped battlers Chelsea secure a vital 1-0 win over Norwich City to give them some breathing room from the relegation zone. With the club now sitting 15th on the table and Diego Costa in an even worse mood than usual, speculation is inevitably turning to the prospect of a new striker being brought in during the January transfer window. Predictably, and slightly depressingly, one of the key targets seems to be none other than Jamie Vardy.
Liverpool are enjoying the instant success of playing under a new manager, with Jurgen Klopp’s men trouncing Manchester City 4-1 thanks to the suddenly very lethal pairing of Brazilians Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino up front. FourFourTwo’s Edward Stratmann argues that Firmino could be “the perfect fit for Klopp’s high-octane Liverpool”.
Arsene’s bad day
With City losing, Arsenal had the chance to go clear at the top of the table, and looked on track after going 1-0 up in the first half against West Bromwich Albion. Then, as Arsene Wenger described morosely in his post-match interview, “we scored an own goal, we missed a penalty, we missed unbelievable chances… It was a bad day.” West Brom escaped with a 2-1 win after Santi Cazorla slipped, John Terry-style, while taking a late penalty which would have drawn the game, and Alexis Sanchez hit a shot which somehow seemed to hit the inside of the post but spin out for a goal kick.
Arsenal now sit in their familiar position of fourth on the table after Manchester United stole a 2-1 win over Watford to leapfrog them into second place. Only four points separate the top 5 teams a third of the way through the season, with Spurs’ convincing 4-1 win over London rivals West Ham putting them 5th and within touching distance of a Champions League spot.
Leicester City are top of the league for the first time in 15 years, but they face a tough run of games heading into the new year. Their remaining fixtures for 2015 goes Manchester United, Swansea, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City. The top of the table could look vastly different come January 1.
Match of the Week: Leicester City vs Manchester United (6:30AM Sunday NZT)
Who would have predicted a week ago, let alone at the start of the season, that this would be 1 plays 2 in Gameweek 14? The real reason all eyes will be on this fixture though is the man Jamie Vardy. Can he break Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s goalscoring record, at the Dutchman’s old home ground no less? Please let it be so.
Unused substitute in Stoke City’s 1-0 win over Southampton. Crouchy remained thoroughly rugged up in his puffer jacket and beanie on the sidelines of a very cold St Mary’s Park as Bojan scored the game’s only goal with a deft flick off the outside of his boot. Stoke survived a couple of reasonable penalty shouts from the Saints’ Graziano Pelle to clinch their first win at Southampton in something like 1000 years.
Back of the ‘net
The Telegraph has a blockbuster story on the social media backlash suffered by former England defender Sol Campbell after he criticised a waiter called Liam on Twitter. The report claims Campbell “has been branded a ‘grass’ for calling out a specific worker.”
Mesut Ozil posted an incredible – and in a certain light powerfully depressing – photo of himself across all social media platforms to promote Arsenal’s new ‘Christmas jumper’.
Marouane Fellaini’s formidable afro continues to slowly envelop his entire face.
Meanwhile former Barcelona striker Bojan continues to put on an admirably brave face from his new home in Stoke.