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Leicester Stock Watch: Backups shine in unexpected ways

City’s last three games have been kind to players once considered reserves

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leicester City - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Remember, the stock watch is meant to analyze how the recent games have impacted a number of players’ metaphorical standing within the club. This is not just a measurement of who played well, but how their recent performances compare to those that came before, and to what is expected of them.

Leicester City’s last three games can serve as a relevant microcosm of the season so far. There’s been several ups and downs but through it all a strong sense of optimism shines through. The Foxes look like a team that could click and go on a winning streak at any moment, and this is reflected by the individual performances of a few players:

Stock Up

Kelechi Iheanacho: The 21-year-old started the season in disappointing fashion, but has responded well in the last two weeks. It seems to be a trend that just when you start to lose a little bit of hope for him he responds with his best performances. In the brutal loss at the hands of Bournemouth he came on as a substitute and provided an assist. Then against Huddersfield he was a surprise starter and responded with a goal and an assist as well as generally good link-up play. The cherry on top of it all was a substitute appearance against Wolves in the Carabao Cup that ended with his winning penalty in the shootout. Iheanacho’s form will make it hard to keep him out of the XI.

James Maddison: He came to the club with expectations set relatively high for a young player coming from the Championship, but somehow he has exceeded those so far. He started the season brightly, but over the last few weeks has become perhaps City’s most effective and important player. In his last three games he has earned our Fosse Posse MOTM designation every time, and has been the Foxes’ puppet master puling the strings in attack. He was possibly the only positive in the Bournemouth match, and the standout among a number of good performers against Huddersfield.

Leicester City v Huddersfield Town - Premier League
James Maddison is so good that he’s literally skipping past defenders.
Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images

Daniel Amartey: The Ghanian has become a bit of a scapegoat for City supporters, though some of that has been earned. Against Huddersfield, however, he replaced Ricardo Pereira in the XI and put together one of the best shifts we’ve seen from him in a while. Given Pereira’s defensive frailty, Amartey might find himself competing for the right back position more than many thought he would.

Danny Ward: The keeper’s price tag made some skeptical of his arrival, but if his Carabao Cup performance is any indication he may have been worth it. He wasn’t too busy throughout regulation, but when the penalty shootout came around he made himself the hero. Leicester’s penalty shootout troubles seemingly reared their head again when Christian Fuchs and Hamza Choudhury missed theirs, but Ward came to the rescue with three match-winning saves.

Stock Down

Ricardo Pereira: The Portuguese right back started the season strongly, but that was mostly thanks to his ability to push forward. Occasionally he was caught out, but that could be excused when the team remained solid. Against Bournemouth, though, he was exposed and there was no cover to save him. He bounced back with a decent performance against Wolverhampton in the cup match, but his defensive shortcomings were still evident. This paired with Amartey’s positive display will have him unexpectedly competing for his spot in the XI.

Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Ricardo Pereira pondering whether or not to get back and defend.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Wes Morgan: The captain was expected by many to lose his starting job this season, but he has stubbornly clung to it for several matches. In these games he’s even showed that he can still be a solid contributor thanks to his awareness and positioning, but his speed remains an issue and that was on full display against Bournemouth. He was replaced by Jonny Evans in the subsequent match against Huddersfield and started the midweek cup match while Evans was rested. These decisions by Puel would seem to indicate that Evans will now be starting most Premier League matches, though he has surprised us before.

Marc Albrighton: The English winger is seemingly falling out of the picture when it comes to starting matches for Leicester City, but he has continued to provide his signature energy and work rate as a substitute. Albrighton appears to have taken up the mantle of “old reliable” for the Foxes, but has fallen behind Demarai Gray and Rachid Ghezzal in the pecking order among wingers. Ghezzal’s uninspiring form and Gray’s injury will likely result in Albrighton finding his way back into the XI, but that doesn’t change that Puel has seen him as a secondary option.