1) Patience pays off as the Foxes get back to winning ways
We’d all have taken a win in pretty much any format, with any performance, right? Good job it felt like a deserved one then. This was a much improved performance than the ones against Liverpool, Fulham and Zorya. Not perfect, but a marked difference.
Brendan Rodgers came in for flack again pre-match with the team selection. Really beginning to wonder what team he’d have to select to make the majority of people happy these days? There was a question mark around his insistence to keep a back three again, though it didn’t look so fragile this time and Jonny Evans turned in one of his best performances of late. If anything, the only takeaway for Rodgers is that our defending of set pieces continues to be absolutely atrocious. Zonal marking doesn’t seem to help us and it was no shock that Sheffield United were able to score from a corner.
Ignoring the ongoing set-piece issue because it won’t be solved overnight (or in a fifteen minute half-time despite what Sky commentary think!), this was a deserved win. Chris Wilder’s side have been unfortunate at times, and may think they’d done enough to earn a point but this doesn’t factor in the post frustrating us more than Aaron Ramsdale, denying us two goals in the first half and the pressure we applied throughout a lot of the game. Three much needed points and some confidence before a crucial game in the Europa League again.
2) All Vardy goals are great, but these ones are really fun
There might be better things to see than Jamie Vardy kicking the proverbial crap out of a corner flag, but I dare you to get Foxes fans to admit that. What says a classic Vardy goal better than a destroyed corner flag? Sorry, Sheffield United. For something that’s a trademark Vardy celebration, it’s a little odd that some are using it as a chance to accuse him of homophobia, rather than just questioning where his hatred of corner flags came from.
I think all corner flags need to rise up and create an organisation to fight the injustice that is a Jamie Vardy goal celebration! He should be banned, apologise and show support for every broken flag he has affected in his career... Shame.— Pob the Fox (@pob_LCFC) December 6, 2020
90th minute winners may not be quite the same without fans, but it shouldn’t stop you celebrating wildly in your own house. Who better to topple United than Wednesday fan, Jamie Vardy? It’s the perfect kind of goal for him too, a well executed through ball from James Maddison that went beyond the defenders and gave him the chance to use his pace. From the second he gets to that ball, as the opposition goalkeeper, you know you’re in trouble.
Maybe on a different day, when we’re all not so elated about getting back to winning and the excitement that comes from clinching it this way, maybe we can ask if we’re risking it again by being too reliant on Vardy. Although judging on his record so far this season, so long as he can keep producing, we’ll keep putting our faith in him!
3) James Maddison comes to life at the perfect moment
Why do you keep Maddison on the pitch for the full ninety? Because even in a game where he’d struggled to really make his mark for much of it, he can pop up with a fantastic, late assist. His pass through to Vardy for the winner was perfection. In an afternoon where it just didn’t seem to want to go for Madders, he showed persistence in his efforts.
The only worrying statistic is that this marked his first assist for the Foxes in 2020. Gaps in the season, injuries and a general Leicester slump aside, it’s a stat he won’t love. Yes, he’s notched some pretty epic solo goals this year, but for somebody who tops the chances created charts a lot, it’s good to have more assists to go with those too.
Prior to the perfectly weighted through ball that deceived multiple defenders, Maddison’s afternoon had been a largely frustrating one of misplaced free-kicks, a few fouls that interrupted his moves (standard) and some more corners that didn’t really deliver. It wasn’t a lack of effort though on his part. Of course, he could have had an entirely different one if his early shot had gone in, rather than being denied by the post. It’s tough to watch him in those kinds of performances because you can see how frustrated it makes him and you know what’s capable of. May this assist be the catalyst!
If you have the chance to catch his post-match interview too, make sure you do. He’s an engaging speaker, very honest and if he’s not a future Captain, it’ll be a surprise.
4) Ayoze Perez made the most of a rare start
If you say you were anything but absolutely delighted for Ayoze Perez getting not only a start, but a goal too, you’re lying. You’d have to be, it’s impossible not to feel for Ayoze. He’s been the ultimate professional and although his chances have been incredibly sparse, he’s looked raring and ready to go when he has had his chance. He hasn’t sulked or had a mini meltdown on social media. He worked harder and waited patiently. Much like the whole Leicester side, he showed why patience pays off.
This was a superb display from the Spaniard. It’s important to note that he was allowed to play behind Vardy, his best position if we aren’t able to just play him up front. Something I bemoaned midweek against Zorya Luhansk was decision making. It’s something I’d consider Ayoze to be pretty good at. He showed this several times early into this game, feeding through Vardy and trying to feed in James Justin. Unlucky not to notch an assist before he opened up the scoring and vital to so many of our best moves at Bramall Lane.
Ayoze Perez for Leicester in the first half vs. Sheffield United:— Oracle of Football (@oracleoffootbal) December 6, 2020
◉ Most take-ons (3)
◉ Most shots (3)
◉ Most chances created (2)
◎ = most fouls won (2)
◉ Most shots on target (1)
◉ Most goals (1)
His first Premier League goal of the season.
His goal came from being in the right place at the right time. A shot from Albrighton that didn’t quite go to plan fell favourably at his feet and he made no mistake at short range. It’s hard to think of a player who needed that goal more and it showed by how happy the squad were for him (I love that Madders beats him to his own celebration now!). While he didn’t play the full ninety, he was impressive in the seventy he was allowed. This should help him feature in Rodgers’ plans over the coming weeks as the fixtures continue to pile up. Where we’ve struggled creatively in previous matches, he certainly helped in making the difference.
Fully deserving of his Man of the Match.
5) Perfect time to re-build some momentum
It’s too early to call this a key turning point in the season, but it could turn out to be one. This week, the Foxes have the cache to top their Europa League group, ensuring seeding that could protect them initially from some of the bigger teams. It comes ahead of a spell of packed Premier League weeks leading into Christmas and the New Year.
Chances are, if you’re a long-term Leicester fan, you approach the Christmas period with some trepidation. It’s not often been our most prolific spell of the season. This year’s fixtures in the Christmas week could be kinder, away to Tottenham, home to Manchester United on Boxing Day and Crystal Palace in the inbetween days. It doesn’t scream a nine point haul on paper.
Hearing the players, and Rodgers, speak after the match, you could see how pleased they were. This is already a unified, talented squad, sometimes you just need a bit of luck and a good away win.
Bonus Learn: Not specifically from the game itself, but Jamie Vardy is a man of more skills than just scoring goals, it seems. Extra points if you understand this exchange of Nigerian Pidgin!