Leicester City 2-0 Watford
- Goals: Jamie Vardy (£9.9m), James Maddison (£7.6m)
- Assists: Jonny Evans (£5.1m), James Justin (£4.8m)
- Bonus: Evans x3, Maddison x2, Ricardo Pereira (£6.4m)
They can’t all be 9-0s.
The bar was set ludicrously high by Brendan Rodgers’ side in Gameweek 8 and since then the Foxes have recorded more modest victories, scoring exactly two goals in each of their last five league matches.
With in excess of two million Fantasy Premier League managers and over 82% of the top 10k handing the armband to Jamie Vardy (£9.9m) ahead of Leicester City’s home match against managerless, bottom-of-the-table Watford, there were wildly optimistic predictions of another mauling and a deluge of FPL points.
What followed was a game strikingly similar to the Gameweek 14 victory over Everton just three days earlier.
In both cases, a struggling Premier League team had frustrated the Foxes until well into the second half and forced Rodgers to shuffle his pack.
With a busy December ahead, the Leicester boss had hinted at rotation in his pre-match press conference, highlighting the probable need to freshen his starting XI up in order to maintain his side’s “energy and intensity”.
Despite these comments, Rodgers’ only alteration to his starting XI was an enforced one: Christian Fuchs (£4.3m) replacing the injured Ben Chilwell (£5.9m) at left-back.
It was perhaps no surprise, then, that some of Leicester’s players looked leggy against the Hornets on Wednesday, with the exertions of their last-gasp victory over Everton just over 72 hours before this latest match taking its toll.
Youri Tielemans (£6.7m), an ever-present this season and a player who had lasted at least 80 minutes in all 14 previous league fixtures, appeared to be particularly jaded and was substituted midway through the second half.
Ayoze Perez (£6.2m) has been mostly ineffectual in the last two Gameweeks, meanwhile, and, having been hauled off for Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.7m) on Sunday, he failed to make it out after the interval against Watford last night.
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Rodgers makes a change or two against Aston Villa this weekend, then, with Tielemans and Perez among the leading candidates for a breather in the Midlands.
The Leicester boss said after the game:
We’ve played better this season. However, the mentality of the team and the ability to keep going… Hayden [Mullins] set the team up very well, Watford were very compact, very tight, deep, tried to frustrate. So that’s always difficult. But we had to keep our perseverance and keep going.
Harvey Barnes (£5.9m) looked anything but fatigued and, despite a fifth blank in a row, was one of the Foxes’ brighter players, especially in the first half.
A one-two with James Maddison (£7.6m) resulted in Barnes firing into the side netting before the left-winger danced his way through the Watford defence, only to be denied by Ben Foster (£4.8m) from close range.
The Watford goalkeeper was at it again after just after the break, thwarting Barnes from inside the six-yard box.
This was the young midfielder’s tenth start in a row for the Foxes; it was also the tenth successive game in which he has been substituted. Therein lies one of the downsides to Barnes, especially with Rodgers blessed with attack-minded options on the bench and threatening rotation over Christmas.
As was the case at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, it was a Vardy goal that set Leicester on their way to victory.
There is now almost a sense of inevitability that he will get on the scoresheet, regardless of how anonymous he looks.
Ever since Rodgers took over earlier this year, Vardy has wrestled FPL hauls from the jaws of a blank.
The late braces against Fulham and Arsenal, plus belated attacking returns against Huddersfield Town, are still fresh in the mind from the back-end of 2018/19.
Ten of his 14 goals this season have come in the second half and, although his latest strike came courtesy of a generous penalty award after a foul from Adam Masina (£4.3m) on Jonny Evans (£5.1m), he had arguably earned a lucky spot-kick decision, having been harshly penalised – and booked – for simulation in the Watford box earlier in the game.
The in-form premium striker, who remains FPL’s leading points-scorer, almost doubled his tally soon after, only to see his dinked effort hacked away from near the goal-line by a retreating Masina.
Maddison added gloss to the scoreline in injury time, bundling his way forward and firing past Foster to seal the win.
The England midfielder was himself not at his best last night but his owners would have felt they were due some luck after the penalty-taking farce of Gameweek 13 that deprived him of a goal against Brighton.
Normal service was resumed at the other end of the pitch, with Leicester keeping their seventh clean sheet of the season and their fifth in six Gameweeks.
Caglar Soyuncu (£5.1m) and co were seldom troubled, with Kasper Schmeichel (£5.3m) not making a save until injury time.
A Will Hughes (£5.5m) shot that struck Troy Deeney (£6.2m) was as close as the visitors came to breaking the deadlock before that.
Chilwell missed out on the shut-out points, with Rodgers saying of his injured left-back:
Hopefully, will be OK for the weekend. Slight problem with the top of his leg, the hip area. We’ll see how he goes over the next couple of days but hopefully OK.
Watford assets will be low down on many Fantasy managers’ watchlists, certainly until we find out who will succeed Quique Sanchez Flores at Vicarage Road.
Whoever steps into the managerial hotseat has a lot to tackle, with the Hornets seven points adrift at the foot of the Premier League and offering next-to-no attacking threat at the King Power despite their wholehearted performance.
Finding the back of the net has been a real problem in 2019/20 and Watford are the only top-flight team still in single figures for goals, with this latest defeat seeing them muster only four shots in total.
Mullins showed a bit more attacking ambition in deploying a 4-4-1-1, with Deeney in for the injured Jose Holebas (£4.7m), but there was little joy to be had against the Premier League’s meanest backline.
Owners of Crystal Palace and Liverpool defenders will be hoping that Watford remain shot-shy ahead of their encounters in Gameweeks 16 and 17 respectively.
Leicester City XI (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Fuchs; Ndidi; Perez (Praet 46′), Tielemans (Choudhury 69′), Maddison, Barnes (Justin 80′), Vardy.
Watford XI (4-4-1-1): Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina; Hughes (Quina 83′), Doucoure, Capoue, Sarr; Deulofeu (Success 77′); Deeney (Gray 87′).
Gameweek 15 – FPL Match Reports
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Bournemouth
- Burnley 1-4 Man City
- Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester 2-0 Watford
- Man Utd 2-1 Spurs
- Southampton 2-1 Norwich
- Wolves 2-0 West Ham
- Liverpool 5-2 Everton
- Sheffield United 0-2 Newcastle
- Arsenal 1-2 Brighton
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