Another weekend, another match for the Foxes. Last Saturday, Leicester City battled to a 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough in the KP Stadium. Álvaro Negredo was able to find space in the Foxes defense twice, as he scored goals in the 13th and 71st minute. However, thanks to a hand ball by Calum Chambers in the 33rd minute and a questionable challenge by Marten de Roon, Rhiyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani scored off penalty kicks to earn the Foxes a point.
Plenty of thoughts that we can take away from this week’s activity with the Foxes and in football:
Mahrez has the rhythm back
One of the conversations that we have had thus far this season was the struggles that the Foxes were having in converting penalties. We concluded that a change be needed. We discussed who would be the best option to step up. It felt like it was time.
Turns out Mr. Mahrez had some thoughts on that.
In the past three matches (two in the Premier League and one in the Champions League), the Foxes have headed to the spot four times. Three of those instances, Mahrez found himself set to take care of the penalties (the fourth came last weekend after Mahrez had come off, and Slimani put the ball in the back of the net in his stead). The result? A calm, confident, sure finish from him.
Is it a small sample size? Yes, there is no argument there, but the quality in which they are being taken is what stands out. It looks confident, precise and well done. During that period of debate earlier in the season, it lacked that edge to it. He has that swagger back, and it is a welcome sight to see.
Mahrez finding that consistency from the spot is good news for the side. Just keep earning those penalties.
The Vardy Party
Where, oh where, has the Vardy Party gone? Oh where, oh where, can it be?
It is a serious song that I have found myself singing of late. I think we all need a little Vardy Party. It is no shock that the Foxes have struggled a bit in scoring goals from methods other than the penalties of late – the last time for a non-penalty goal was from Islam Slimani against West Bromich Albion. As it stands right now, the top goal scorer in the Premier League for the Foxes is Slimani with four, which is followed by Mahrez’ three goals, and finally Vardy with two. Seeing that number begs the questions – where has the party gone?
Perhaps the reason this question seems particularly pertinent today is due to the one-year anniversary of Vardy’s eleven match scoring run from last season being just a couple days ago. Part of this conversation needs to be recognizing that opposing clubs are giving Vardy a harder time, and that is fair. However, the other part is recognizing that Vardy has not found that same rhythm for the side, and there are many reasons why that has been the case. So far this season, Vardy has had two matches where he did not get a shot off, something he never had occur all of last season. You would need to go back to the 2014-2015 to find a match where Vardy had that happen.
Is it unfair to expect the blistering scoring pace from Vardy that he had from last season? Maybe a bit, but at times, Vardy looks absent. What may benefit him the most might be a bit of a break – not in the sense of being away from the team – but rather from the starting eleven. Slimani and Shinji Okazaki are providing quality minutes in the two striker roles, while Mahrez adds good attacking quality out wide. Thus, allow Vardy to be a substitute, and build up that confidence that just seems to be lacking when is the side.
Bottom line is simple – Vardy knows how to bring the party to the pitch, but right now, he might just need a bit of help to keep that party going.
One of the greatest aspects of sports, regardless of which sport, is the community that fans tend to form. We delight in the good moments. We argue about the controversies. We sympathize over a loss. We dream of the next big moment. Sport is often about competition, but what I believe it is really about, is the communities that we form.
I have thought about that aspect a lot this week, both generally and within the Leicester City community.
As I am sure you are aware, the football community suffered a tragedy this week with the plane crash outside of Medellín, Colombia killing 76 passengers, amongst them the Chapecoense Real football club, managers of the club and journalist covering the club – leaving only six survivors. They were all on their way to cover the club’s Cinderella story path to the Copa Sudamericana final against Atlético Nacional. There is no other words to describe the situation but utterly tragic.
Moments like this remind us how much the little complaints we may have about teams are not all that significant in the grand scheme of things. The communities we form in sport are everything. Right now, all those supporters of Chapecoense Real, all those in the city of Chapecó, and all those in Brazil – they need this global football community.
They need Foxes. They need Gunners. They need all of us from around the world, regardless of club – whether we tweet our thoughts and condolences or we donate to the club. Their community is hurting, and we need to lift them up. We need to support them. It is far too easy to hear tragic news, but let it slip out of our mind once we get back into the daily moment of our lives. Fight that urge. Keep them in your minds and your hearts during this time.
So, come Saturday, be a Fox. Wear blue as you watch in a pub or in front of your TV at home. Be ready to cheer on Leicester City. However, do so cherishing this game a little bit more. Do so in appreciating the community you are in. Above all, do so in memory of those we lost this week. Right now, we are all Chapecoense Real supporters. So, #ForçaChape, and come on you Foxes.
Our thoughts are with everyone at @ChapecoenseReal and all those affected by the tragedy in Colombia.— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 29, 2016
Up Next: Leicester City travel to the Stadium of Light to show down with Sunderland on Saturday at 3:00pm (10:00am EST/9:00am CT in the US).