Jamie Vardy is Fantasy Premier League’s form attacking asset over the last nine Gameweeks.
Since Claude Puel departed Leicester City in the wake of the defeat to Crystal Palace, Vardy has ten goals and two assists – no FPL player can match that total of 12 goal involvements during this time.
Ahead of Double Gameweek 35, we wrote that Vardy’s form was making it difficult for his owners to trade him in.
Those who kept faith with the Leicester striker have since been rewarded with 24 points in the space of three Gameweeks.
Vardy’s owners now face another dilemma ahead of the season run-in, with Leicester away at Manchester City next before entertaining Chelsea in Gameweek 38.
The Blues’ away woes (two wins in eight games on the road and no clean sheets in that time) makes that final-day fixture more appealing than it seems on paper but a trip to the Etihad next Monday is more off-putting, given that City have kept 11 clean sheets in their last 15 Premier League games.
Vardy has delivered attacking returns against five of the “big six” clubs this season, however, including an assist in the 2-1 win over City in December.
We review another triumphant day for Vardy and Leicester in our Scout Notes piece below.
Leicester City 3-0 Arsenal
- Goals: Youri Tielemans (£6.0m), Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) x2
- Assists: James Maddison (£6.7m), Ricardo Pereira (£5.3m)
Leicester City recorded their fifth win in seven Gameweeks on Sunday, seeing off ten-man Arsenal at the King Power Stadium.
The Gunners played almost an hour with a numerical disadvantage following the 36th-minute dismissal of Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.4m) but there should be no doubt that Leicester were much the better side even before the Arsenal wing-back picked up his second yellow card of the afternoon.
The Foxes had already registered nine shots before Maitland-Niles was sent off and they looked sharper, hungrier and more confident than their timid visitors throughout.
The sending off actually probably hindered Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) more than helped him – Arsenal retreating to a more defensive mindset after being reduced to ten men and not allowing space in behind their backline for Vardy to exploit.
For the first 36 minutes of the second half, Vardy didn’t have a single shot.
It wasn’t until Arsenal opted to throw a few men forward at 1-0 down that Vardy was presented with the space he thrives on, with the Leicester striker following up his own lobbed effort that struck the crossbar to nod the hosts 2-0 up and then securing another double-digit FPL haul when tapping in Ricardo Pereira’s (£5.3m) low cross in stoppage time.
Vardy’s movement was excellent and he could have been on the scoresheet in the first half when he lobbed wide following a through-ball from Marc Albrighton (£5.1m).
No player on show at the King Power Stadium registered more penalty box touches, attempts on goal, shots in the box, efforts on target or big chances.
When FPL forwards are filtered by the last nine Gameweeks, Vardy – who averages 9.0 points per game under Brendan Rodgers – comes top for big chances, shots on target and efforts in the box.
Vardy isn’t the only player to be excelling under his new manager.
Youri Tielemans (£6.0m) has only blanked in one of the last nine Gameweeks and he registered his eighth attacking return of the last two months by nodding in James Maddison‘s (£6.7m) cross on 58 minutes.
Only Vardy had more attempts on goal than Tielemans at the King Power, with the Belgian midfielder going close to scoring a second when he curled narrowly wide on 73 minutes.
Tielemans is one of three Leicester players, the others being Maddison and Harvey Barnes (£5.5m), who sit in the top ten midfielders for efforts on goal over the last nine Gameweeks, emphasising just how attacking the Foxes are under Rodgers now.
Speaking of the on-loan Monaco midfielder, Rodgers said:
What he’s paid to do is create and score and he’s doing it very well.
It was a wonderful cross from James and it’s important that you have players that are hungry to score and he had a great strike as well in the game that was very, very close.
He’s shown great efficiency since he’s been here and for his age, he’s got great maturity in his game and I’m very, very pleased for him today.
Tielemans had begun this match in a midfield three with Wilfred Ndidi (£4.9m) and the excellent Hamza Choudhury (£4.3m), with Maddison and Albrighton playing wide of Vardy.
With Arsenal a man down, Rodgers sacrificed Ndidi at the break and brought on winger Barnes, reverting to the 4-1-4-1 formation he had favoured in recent weeks.
Tielemans and Maddison were given more license to get forward from central positions and it was no surprise that they combined for Leicester’s opening goal.
Maddison was again impressive, if a little selfish at times, registering four shots from distance and three key passes – two of which led to “big chances”.
Ricardo got the assist for Vardy’s goal but opposite full-back Ben Chilwell (£5.0m) caught the eye from an attacking perspective, frequently getting forward from left-back and creating three chances.
While there will be few Fantasy managers interested in budget defensive midfielder Choudhury, his inclusion in a slightly tweaked Leicester set-up meant one less starting spot for the likes of Barnes and Demarai Gray (£5.4m) to compete for.
On Choudhury, Rodgers said:
I thought he was outstanding. He’s made the best tackle I’ve seen since I’ve been in here and that’s why he was in the team.
In the first half against West Ham, we were too passive, against Newcastle we were too passive. And I’m not the type of coach who waits to see if we are going to be passive again.
He’s shown me in training that he’s really aggressive, he recovers the ball so well.
Leicester will seldom face a defence as obliging as Arsenal’s, however, with the Gunners conceding three goals for the third Premier League match in a row.
They remain stuck on one clean sheet away from home all season and rank in the bottom third of the table for big chances, shots in the box and efforts on target conceded over their last six matches.
As well as the three goals he shipped on Sunday, Bernd Leno (£4.9m) had to make nine saves at the King Power – more than any other goalkeeper in Gameweek 36.
While shot-shy Brighton likely won’t cause the Gunners many problems in Gameweek 37, Ashley Barnes (£5.6m) and Chris Wood (£6.3m) will be licking their lips ahead of their final-day meeting with Unai Emery’s side at Turf Moor.
It is difficult to judge Arsenal’s attacking players given that they played for almost two-thirds of the game with only ten men but there were only occasional flashes before Maitland-Niles’ dismissal: Alex Iwobi (£5.4m) and Alexandre Lacazette (£9.4m) both perhaps should have done better with presentable chances before their team-mate saw red.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m) returned after sinus surgery to play alongside Lacazette in a 4-4-2 but the Gabonese forward was mostly peripheral after Maitland-Niles’ red card and didn’t register a single shot.
While there were mitigating circumstances in Leicester, Aubameyang and Lacazette have each just scored one goal in their last seven away league appearances.
Reflecting on the game, Emery said:
Our gameplan was to be strong in our defensive moments and in our attacking moments, to take our chances, attacking their back four.
We started very well, we controlled the match with good positioning and defensively with not many problems.
The second yellow card gave us a lot of problems to continue with our gameplan with more efficiency. Continuing our idea with one player less was going to be difficult. It changed a lot, this red card.
The players worked very well and I’m proud of them. With one player less, we continued our gameplan, trying to be together, defensively strong, and in the attacking moments to take our moments. The first goal has conditioned the result.
When we were better on the pitch with one player less, they had a counter-attack and scored the second one and finished the match.
Mesut Ozil (£7.9m) and Nacho Monreal (£5.4m) missed out with foot and calf injuries respectively, meanwhile.
Leicester City XI (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Ricardo, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi (Barnes 46′); Albrighton (Gray 86′), Tielemans, Choudhury (Mendy 78′), Maddison; Vardy.
Arsenal XI (4-4-2): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Mkhitaryan (Guendouzi 73′), Torreira, Xhaka, Iwobi (Koscielny 46′); Lacazette (Nketiah 78′), Aubameyang.