Those paying particularly close attention might have noticed that there is currently no football.
I know, right?
Regular service here is obviously disrupted, but we will try our best to fill a small section of the void answering banal questions like “who is Leicester City’s most underrated player?”
This was meant to be that, but then it fell off the rails. Enjoy.
The Foxes were struggling to put any kind of points on the board heading into March as Brendan Rodgers called on Marc Albrighton for his first start since January and then his first league start of 2020.
The team seemed to be immediately jolted out of their rut, with Albrighton himself providing three assists in comfortable back-to-back wins.
In fact, the last time we lost a game that he started was against Manchester City in May 2019. Before that, it was under Claude Puel, which we all know doesn’t count.
The only game in that run not won inside 90 minutes was a Cup draw against Everton. The Toffees’ equaliser was scored after the winger was subbed off (for an extra defender).
On this day in 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣7️⃣: Leicester City secured their place in the Champions League quarter-finals through Marc Albrighton— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 14, 2020
What a night for the Foxes! pic.twitter.com/dRw6mqxVZR
So, to summarise, when Marc Albrighton starts games, we win them. And yet he’s only been given three league starts all season. Sounds pretty underrated to me.
But what exactly is it that he brings to the team that his fellow wingers don’t? Other than crossing, I mean.
According to understat.com he provides good quality chances at a higher rate than any Fox. His 0.38 expected assists (xA) per 90 minutes are great, but I don’t think I could honestly say his crossing ability was “underrated”.
Of course, you can’t have an assist, or an expected assist, without someone getting into dangerous areas, which the other three wingers all do considerably better than he does.
In fact, Albrighton’s 0.06xG per 90 is more in line with Ben Chiwell or Wilfred Ndidi. It’s closer to Kasper Schmeichel than it is to Harvey Barnes (0.36).
It’s still important to create chances, but in terms of combined xG and xA, Albrighton lags someway behind the other three.
English, Maths, Science, it’s opened my eyes up a little bit but me and my wife have split the work as we’ve got an eight-year-old and a six-year-old, so we’ve alternated between each other who gets the elder work, which is a tad more difficult let me say! But we’ve got an 18-month little girl as well so she’s roaming around, so it’s causing chaos, but it’s good chaos and to be fair they’ve been golden for us so it’s made a lot easier - Marc’s solid 7-8/10 contributions are reserved for home at the moment
The former Aston Villa man is also renowned for his defensive contributions, having filled in seamlessly as a wing back in previous years, but the numbers really don’t work in his favour.
Ayoze Perez makes more tackles, interceptions and blocks per 90 minutes than the man he’s replaced on the right. Harvey Barnes is a little hopeless defensively, but he’s been the team’s best player going forward in 2020, so we can let him off.
Maybe Albrighton’s impact is more of a team-wide improvement. We all remember when manager after manager tried to replace Shinji Okazaki only to bring him back when things fell apart for reasons that weren’t clear.
At this point though, I think it’s time to give the manager a little credit and he assume he really does know what’s best for his team.
Yes, we win every game Albrighton starts, but I was trying to prove how underrated he was back then, so I might have left out his opponents in that run.
I still love Sharky, and I do think there’s always a place for someone as consistent as him, particularly against “lesser” opponents like those above. But is he the team’s most underrated player? I’m not so sure.
Under normal circumstances, I’d apologise for wasting your time. Today I won’t.