Leicester 4-0 Aston Villa
- Goals: Harvey Barnes x2 (£6.1m), Jamie Vardy x2 (£9.6m)
- Assists: Marc Albrighton x2 (£5.1m), Barnes
- Bonus Points: H Barnes x3, Vardy x2, Albrighton x1
Jamie Vardy (£9.6m) was in a punishing mood on Monday night as he put both Aston Villa and his Fantasy Premier League sellers to the sword.
The Leicester striker missed out on the starting line-up for the second Gameweek in a row but was electric when he took to the pitch in the 59th minute.
Having lost 435,775 owners since his last start, Vardy took full advantage from two Aston Villa defensive errors to register an 11-point haul.
“He’s suffered a wee bit in the past six weeks with injuries and that has curtailed him but he was back to being aggressive on the backline and being a real threat. He’s showed really good composure for the penalty, because he’d only been on the pitch a few minutes. He showed confidence and calmness.” – Brendan Rodgers
They were his first goals since Gameweek 18, leading to a first double-digit score since Gameweek 16 – Leicester’s last game against Villa.
That will probably beg the question as to whether Dean Smith’s contributed to the 4-0 scoreline more than Vardy and his Leicester colleagues.
It’s hard to suggest that Villa were not the masters of their own downfall and Vardy’s brace, considering that both of the centre-forward’s goals came from errors. Even though Smith’s men ditched the back-three and used a four-man defence for the first time since a Gameweek 20 defeat at Watford, there is only so much a system can legislate against individual mistakes.
The most important one occurred when Tyrone Mings (£4.5m) made the questionable decision to throw his shoulder at a Harvey Barnes (£6.1m) cross in the box, resulting in a Leicester penalty with the score at 1-0.
While replays showed that contact with Mings was arguably on his shoulder, it was still a suspect decision to hurl himself at the cross in the first place – capping off yet another poor performance from the former Bournemouth man.
Vardy went on to score the penalty, putting the game out of sight for Villa, before Frédéric Guilbert (£4.4m) provided the so-called assist for his second.
Barnes played a ball over to Vardy on the left whose shot was blocked by the right-back but Guilbert was far too slow to respond to the rebound. By the time he’d got his bearings, Leicester’s talismanic forward had snuck a shot inside Pepe Reina‘s (£4.5m) near post.
The goalkeeper was also at fault for the opening goal of the game. After Marc Albrighton (£5.1m) had played a fantastic chipped through-ball to Barnes, not unlike those Danny Drinkwater (£4.4m) regularly produced in Leicester’s title-winning season, Reina rushed out of his goal in what could only be described as a moment of madness. Barnes found it far too easy to leave the goalkeeper stranded and slot into a largely unguarded net.
Seeing Villa practically gift Fantasy points on Monday night, owners of Ayoze Pérez (£6.2m) will have watched through gritted teeth as the former Newcastle man remained on the bench all evening.
Even though Leicester’s players have Villa to thank for their big scores, there is still plenty to like about Barnes, especially in home matches.
Adding three attacking returns to his tally for the season, 64% of these have been produced at the King Power Stadium. While Barnes will almost certainly receive plenty of transfer attention ahead of the Gameweek 30 trip to Watford, it must be remembered that the Hornets are joint-top of the Premier League for home clean sheets this season, while Leicester don’t play in front of the Foxes’ fanbase until Gameweek 33 when Crystal Palace visit.
However, Leicester assets across the board should be boosted by the return to full fitness for Wilfred Ndidi (£5.0m) who made his first appearance since New Year’s Day.
The holding midfield player has been such a crucial cog in the Leicester team this season, winning the ball back to protect the defence and reliably distributing to the creative midfielders quickly to trigger the counter-attack.
Without Ndidi this season, Leicester have won just twice, drawn two games and lost on eight occasions from a possible 12.
Consequently, Leicester defensive assets finally rewarded the patience shown in them by their owners, as they kept a first home clean sheet since Gameweek 15.
There was a particularly encouraging display from James Justin (£4.7m) who, stepping in for the injured Ben Chilwell (£5.7m) at left-back, offered plenty of penetration down the left-flank.
Owners of Çaglar Söyüncü (£5.0m) and Jonny Evans (£5.2m) may also feel a little disappointed that they did not take more from the game as both players were handed plenty of chances to score when unmarked in the penalty area by Villa’s questionable defence.
Smith’s insistence on using zonal marking for set pieces, if it continues moving forward, could be very good news for Chelsea and Wolves defenders in Gameweeks 30 and 32 respectively.
That said, Leicester’s clean sheet was certainly helped by Aston Villa’s continued struggle for goals on the road, as they were unable to construct many clear cut opportunities at the King Power Stadium.
There was some nice overlaps from Matt Targett (£4.4m) and Guilbert early-on and a Conor Hourihane (£5.7m) free-kick flashed across the face of goal just out of the reach of Mbwana Samatta (£5.9m) but, apart from those incidents, Leicester looked very comfortable.
With Samatta isolated for extended periods at Leicester, such a display bodes well for the defences of Liverpool and Everton, who host Villa in Gameweeks 33 and 36 respectively.
Leicester City XI (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Justin, Soyuncu, Evans, R Pereira; Ndidi (Mendy 83′), Praet (Tielemans 76′); Barnes, Maddison, Albrighton; Iheanacho (Vardy 59′).
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Reina; Targett, Mings, Engels, Guilbert; Hourihane (Davis 67′), Nakamba, Luiz; Grealish, Samatta, El Mohamady (El Ghazi 63′).
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