Vibrant Vardy leaves Rooney in the shade: 5 things from Leicester 1-1 Man United
1) Vardy's record run takes him beyond Ruud
It was inevitable that it would come against Ruud van Nistelrooy’s former team, as Leicester’s goal scoring machine raced into the box to beat David de Gea and score for a record 11 Premier League games in a row.
Van Nistelrooy scored 15 goals in his 10-game streak, whereas Vardy had managed 12 in his own remarkable feat prior to kick-off. And he went one better than the Dutchman, who set the record in 2003, in the 24th minute, racing onto Christian Fuch's fine through-ball and sending the King Power potty in the process.
At the same time, he also set a new club record for goals scored in a single Premier League with 14, overtaking Tony Cottee’s total in 1999/00. “I’m very happy for the record of Jamie Vardy, fantastic, a great achievement,” Claudio Ranieri gleefully announced in his post-match press conference. “I signed his shirt and put the date, as my signing is important,” he joked. “I wrote: ‘Great achievement and great record.”
The Foxes are the only side to have found the back of the net in all 14 of their Premier League games this season, while their matches have witnessed 50 goals in total; more than any other side.
2) Van Gaal’s decision to play a back three highlights his conservatism
The back three was in part forced upon the manager due to the injury of Marcos Rojo, but Louis van Gaal later confessed that it was more due to the ability of Vardy and Shinji Okazaki, as it gave them a spare central defender
The back three was in part forced upon the manager due to the injury of Marcos Rojo, but Louis van Gaal later confessed that it was more due to the ability of Vardy and Shinji Okazaki, as it gave them a spare central defender.
With Manchester United using wing-backs, Leicester’s wide players were able to nullify the away side’s attacking intent by simply tracking them. This was illustrated as early as the 8th minute, as Matteo Darmain tried to beat Marc Albrighton in his own area but was thwarted by the former Aston Villa attacker.
When Ashley Young or Darmain did manage to wriggle free, they still had to negotiate their way past the opposing full-back.
Ranieri opted to let the three centre-backs have possession of the ball and used his forwards to block the routes into Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick. Past United teams would have given Leicester something to think about at the other end of the pitch rather than concentrating on denying the opposition.
3) Mahrez’s dribbling a problem for even the most organised defences
No one can doubt the organisation in Van Gaal’s methods defensively, but it’s still extremely difficult to stop individual pieces of brilliance. Riyad Mahrez was a handful once again on the counter-attack, and United clearly didn’t want him to get into dangerous areas with the ball under his control. In the 14th minute, Young picked up the first booking of the game after a shirt pull on the Algerian around the centre circle, and then just four minutes later Daley Blind body-checked him in a similar area.
Mahrez’s skill was evident on a number of occasions as he beat the opposing players in front of him with a mixture of pace and trickery. He completed 4 of his attempted 7 take-ons and was fouled a total of 4 times. His weaving run in the 66th minute caused United problems yet again before he set up substitute Leonardo Ulloa. The forward’s shot couldn’t beat De Gea, as the goalkeeper denied the Argentine with his feet.
4) Martial/Rooney movement a problem for Mata
It was a surprise that Juan Mata didn’t start against PSV, and with United utilising a 3-4-1-2 formation at the King Power Stadium the Spaniard was restored to the first XI as a No.10. Mata is exceptional at finding space between the lines and at threading little passes into the strikers. However, both Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney don’t tend to play on the shoulder of the last defender despite Martial’s speed.
Mata had to consistently look to the wings for both his forwards and the wing-backs as there was little in front of him despite Van Gaal choosing to start with two strikers
“I wanted to change one of the strikers and then [Rooney] was limping, and that’s why I chose him but it could have been Martial because they were not running in behind,” revealed Van Gaal on the substitution of his captain. “When you have seen the game against Watford, [Jesse] Lingard was running in behind.”
Rooney drops very deep in order to receive the ball and almost played as a second No.10, but his influence has been poor for a sustained period. Martial likes to run into wide areas, which then allows midfield runners to advance and wide players to cut inside, but United didn’t have enough of them on the pitch.
Mata had to consistently look to the wings for both his forwards and the wing-backs as there was little in front of him despite Van Gaal choosing to start with two strikers on Saturday evening.
5) Blind corners United’s most dangerous weapon
Former United assistant Rene Meulensteen told the BBC World Service this week that Van Gaal’s side are “rigid at times.” He added: “You see players where the ball could have been played forward with a little bit of risk but they tend to go square or back. There’s a lack of freedom now.” It was obvious once again.
For the second game running, Blind made the most chances for his club through corners, which caused Leicester issues in their own penalty area
For the second game running, Blind made the most chances for his club through corners, which caused Leicester issues in their own penalty area. Schweinsteiger equalised from one of those situations just before half-time and went close in the second half from a similar scenario.
A team with United’s quality would of course expect more than a reliance on set-pieces, although fatigue may have played a part as Van Gaal admitted that the players didn’t train on Thursday or Friday due to the expenditure of energy against PSV in midweek.
“In spite of our dominance we didn’t create so many chances,” Van Gaal admitted after seeing the Red Devils fail to overtake the Foxes. “That’s also because there are many bodies in a very compact space, it’s difficult. When you have a chance and in the circumstances that we had them, you have to score.”
ALSO ON FFT.COM
- Jamie Vardy has become the first Premier League player to score in 11 consecutive appearances, overtaking the record held by Ruud van Nistelrooy since August 2003.
- Vardy has netted 13 goals in those 11 games and is the current top Premier League goalscorer with 14 goals.
- Vardy’s 14 goals make him the highest scoring Leicester player in a single Premier League season, 1 above Tony Cottee who scored 13 in 1999/00.
- Manchester United (and David de Gea) conceded from open play in the Premier League for the first time in 545 minutes.
- Bastian Schweinsteiger netted his first goal since May for Bayern Munich against Mainz - Shinji Okazaki was playing for Mainz that day.
- Christian Fuchs registered his first assist in the Premier League for Jamie Vardy’s goal, becoming the seventh Austrian to assist a Premier League goal.
- 2 of Daley Blind’s 3 Premier League assists have come against Leicester.
- In Premier League history, this is the 10th draw between teams in 1st and 2nd position (15 wins each).
- The Red Devils have won 10 of their last 12 games against the Foxes (D1 L1).