Leicester City 2-1 Burnley
- Goals: Jamie Vardy (£9.0m), Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) | Chris Wood (£6.2m)
- Assists: Harvey Barnes (£5.9m) x2 | Dwight McNeil (£6.0m)
- Bonus: Barnes x3, Vardy, Tielemans x2
Leicester City continued their impressive start to the season with an emotional win over Burnley, a victory that was ultimately decided by a controversial VAR call.
A fourth goal in as many matches from Clarets striker Chris Wood (£6.2m) had given the visitors the lead before Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) and Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) struck to secure a fourth straight home win for the Foxes.
But Sean Dyche’s side were denied an equaliser when Wood bundled both the ball and Foxes defender Jonny Evans (£5.0m) into the net.
Replays showed that there was contact between the pair, although it was arguable whether Evans would have been able to clear the ball even if he had been unimpeded.
If there was a strong sense of injustice about the decision for the visitors, Leicester’s win seemed entirely apt as the home crowd marked the first anniversary of former owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s death in a helicopter crash.
Manager Brendan Rodgers was keen to stress how tough the win was to come by, saying:
I’m really delighted for them, always going to be difficult to be at our fluent best. One because of the occasion, and two because of the opponent we were playing. To get the three points, to give the supporters that good feeling, and for Khun Top (Srivaddhanaprabha’s son), who is here, it was really nice.
Take the emotion out of the equation, however, and Burnley will wonder how they didn’t come away with at least a point from the game.
They not only had more shots on target than their hosts but also created three big chances to Leicester’s zero.
Not that Foxes fans – and a large slice of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers – will care one jot for those numbers.
The vast majority of the pre-match transfer activity surrounding the two sides involved Leicester players, with Ricardo Pereira (£6.2m) and James Maddison (£7.2m) in the top five for Gameweek 9 transfers in.
Vardy joined the pair in the top ten, while interest in Burnley assets was marginal – the total number of transfers involving the entire Burnley squad wasn’t much more than half of the 155,188 who swooped for the ex-England striker alone.
It didn’t take the deductive powers of a Coleen Rooney to see why when Vardy headed home a superb Harvey Barnes (£5.9m) cross to notch his third goal in three matches.
And with a fantastic run of fixtures to come over the next eight Gameweeks, his ownership is likely to rise well above its current 12% level.
Only three strikers have scored more goals than Vardy for the season, but the Leicester man has had to be ruthless along the way – something he has repeatedly been over the past four seasons, with his goal conversion rate always above 20% (he is the only FPL asset to achieve this in the Premier League for so long).
While Maddison blanked, it was left to the unheralded Barnes to fuel the Foxes’ win.
Owned by just 0.3%, the youngster set up both of his side’s goals to earn the maximum bonus points award and equal his output for all of last season – one goal and three assists – from just nine matches this time around.
Should he continue to hold down a regular place – he’s now started the last four games – Barnes could be a low-cost differential worth monitoring.
Maddison (13.8%) has been the main FPL attraction in midfield for Leicester, although a week involving illness and an ill-advised casino visit was hardly the best way to prepare for Saturday’s match.
But he underlined his goal threat by matching Wood’s game-high attempts tally of five, even if none forced a save from Nick Pope (£4.7m).
Instead, it was left to Tielemans to make his mark in midfield, the Belgium international ending a four-match drought with his second goal of the campaign.
Question marks remain over his consistency, however, as he has hauled just twice in nine straight starts.
And the same can be said for the Foxes’ backline, which has kept only two clean sheets so far, although the 92 shots they’ve allowed suggests better times ahead – especially with such a strong set of fixtures to come.
Burnley’s next few matches are not nearly as attractive. They face Chelsea next and will have also played both Manchester City and Spurs by early December, with tricky fixtures against Sheffield United and Crystal Palace in between.
Wood’s form remains impressive, although that didn’t stop his ownership dropping by 8,617 prior to the Leicester game, while his striker partner Ashley Barnes (£6.4m), who missed the match with a groin issue, continues to haemorrhage owners.
Dyche revealed afterwards that both Barnes and Jack Cork (£5.0m) have a good chance to recover for Gameweek 10, saying:
He [Barnes] is not a million miles away but it is that tricky decision of do you play and it get worse or do you not and you make sure you have an increased chance for the next one.
It is the same with Corky who has this tiny fracture in his shoulder blade but if someone landed on it then it re-fractures and you add another three or four weeks again.
They have a strong chance [for Chelsea].
The team’s most popular asset, the 12%-owned Erik Pieters (£4.8m), recovered from his own injury problems to start at the King Power, but it’s now three matches without a clean sheet for the Clarets.
For Dyche, however, it was all about VAR.
The Burnley boss said:
I find it incredible you can say that’s not a goal. I’ve seen it 12 times. Wood doesn’t change his running gait, he’s not looked down, he’s running in a natural motion. Evans is never going to get it in a million years. Unless he’s the quickest footballer on the planet, he’s not going to get it. I think there was contract. But it was not deliberate. It was a whisper of a touch. If we give that all over the pitch, it would be such a stop-start game.
Luck was clearly not on their side at the weekend and that might need to change quite dramatically to tempt major investment in key Burnley assets such as Wood.
For now, the focus is very much on the likes of Vardy, who is currently one of the top five purchases heading into Gameweek 10 and a promising trip to Southampton.
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