Michael Appleton acquired his first three points in caretaker charge on Saturday, as we won 1-2 away at Swansea City. We were decidedly better than we have been of late - more direct, zippier in possession, countering in numbers. In amongst a number of impressive performers, Shinji Okazaki was re-introduced into the team by Appleton, and the Japanese striker’s performance was excellent.
Less than a minute into the game on Saturday, Okazaki led a counter attack where his flicked header at goal forced an early save from Swansea goalkeeper Lucas Fabianski. He later put a ball across from the right wing, finding Marc Albrighton in the box where his effort at goal was again saved by Fabianski.
Early into the second half, Shinji scored from a counter attack which was like the Leicester of old. Ndidi sprayed the ball to Albrighton on the left, who then clipped a ball into the path of Mahrez at the far post, before his expertly cushioned lay off was perfect for the onrushing Okazaki to tap into the net.
Saturday showed just what a better side we are with Shinji in the team. He gave us what we have been missing recently. He was constantly looking to receive the ball, get things moving, start counter attacks and bring the wide men into the game. He was the focal point.
Due to Okazaki’s willingness to collect the ball from midfield, we are a much more fluid team going forward when he’s in the eleven; particularly when we play 4-4-2. He provides that crucial link between the midfield and attack.
I think Saturday really illustrated to the supporters the quality Shinji Okazaki brings to the team. His technical ability on the ball is second to none and his movement is superb.
We know that Shinji is always alert to loose balls in the penalty area, but this season he has been getting into more advanced positions, and adding goals to his game.
He’s been very good this season and for me, we haven’t yet got a better working partnership up front then Vardy and Okazaki.