With a record of just four wins from 15 fixtures in all competitions since early January, Brendan Rodgers once flying Foxes are caught in a 2020 backslide that is proving difficult to reverse.
Leicester’s worrying regression since the turn of the year has threatened to loosen what had seemed an iron-clad grip on a top four place, while their dreams of landing silverware this season were scuppered on Sunday in another toothless showing during a 0-1 reverse to Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter final.
The slump in Leicester’s results has been compounded by a decline in the overall standard of their play, where much of their early season sparkle and fluidity has been replaced by a flatness and rigidity.
Ironically, at the sharp end of City’s problems lies the uncharacteristically blunt finishing of veteran talisman Jamie Vardy, whose Midas touch has completely deserted him at the business end of the 2019/20 season.
While the tired football axiom “one-man team” is often rolled out by opposition supporters in an attempt to detract from a superstar’s individual brilliance, the cliché could easily be applied to Leicester City’s current plight.
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No Vardy, no party
After an incredibly prolific first half of the season, the goals have inexplicably dried up for Jamie Vardy in 2020, and with the energetic centre-forward’s killer instinct abandoning him, Leicester have dropped down the Premier League’s list of apex predators.
Vardy featured in 13 of the 15 matches during City’s aforementioned stuttering run since January 8, hitting the net just twice during that time, with both goals plundered in the same routine 4-0 Leicester victory over relegation favourites Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium.
Remarkably, thanks to his exceptional exploits between August and December, Vardy is still the Premier League’s leading scorer with 19 goals, with 17 of those rammed home before Christmas last year.
However, once Vardy stopped scoring after the yearly festivities, Leicester stopped winning – almost entirely, and the Foxes’ need for their hitman to provide regular match-changing moments has become inordinate.
Vardy’s overall performances slipping
While Leicester’s team is packed with some of the most coveted young players in England, including Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans, Jamie Vardy remains the only forward-thinking Fox to reach double figures for the season with just a handful of Premier League fixtures left to contest.
However, it’s not just Vardy’s ability to put the ball in the net that has been missing. The forward’s pass completion rate of 71.5% in the first half of the campaign has slipped to a much lower 63% since January, while his attempts on goals average for the same period has slipped from 3.0 per 90 minutes to just 2.0.
Without Vardy pitching in his share, Leicester managed to score just 17 times in 15 fixtures since January 8, in fact, Vardy’s 19-goal harvest accounts for a full 32% of Leicester’s total goals in England’s top flight this season – a figure that points to an overreliance that few other Premier League clubs can match.
At the top end of the Premier League table, where a variety of attacking options and solutions is vital to a team’s success of securing a high finish, Leicester and Wolves are the only clubs in the division’s top eight that lean heavily on a single outlet for goals.
Raul Jimenez has been responsible for 33% of Wanderers’ top tier goals this season, a percentage that suggests a loss of form for the Mexican would have disastrous consequences for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Jimenez, four years Vardy’s junior, is showing no signs of slowing down however, while his counterpart at Leicester is starting to display the signs of lag and rustiness that come so quickly for footballers of advancing years.
Leicester travel to take on Everton Wednesday hoping to pull free of the attacking inadequacies that have been holding them back in 2020. If Jamie Vardy can’t provide, then others must – or the Foxes face losing an entire year of good work in the campaign’s final throes.
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