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Talking Tactics

Improved service behind Vardy's revival

Adrian Clarke 10 Apr 2019
Jamie Vardy

Adrian Clarke explains how Brendan Rodgers has brought best out of Leicester's star striker

Adrian Clarke is looking at key tactical talking points ahead of Matchweek 34.

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With seven goals in his last six Premier League starts, Jamie Vardy is the Premier League’s most in-form striker.

Enjoying the higher tempo introduced by new manager Brendan Rodgers, and especially the extra space it is creating, the 32-year-old is finishing the campaign on a high.

Leicester City’s next opponents Newcastle United must keep close tabs on him to ensure his hot streak does not continue.

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While Rodgers’ fast-paced, pressing style has created the type of transitions that are ideal for Vardy to exploit, it is not the only reason behind his improved form.

The key factor is another tactical change.

Under Claude Puel the Foxes' midfield lacked creativity, with Wilfred Ndidi usually partnering fellow defensive midfielder Nampalys Mendy.

Sometimes another deep-lying midfielder, such as Hamza Choudhury, would be added to the unit too, with playmaker James Maddison being shifted out wide.

The players in that central group often failed to spot Vardy’s runs early enough, or provide the necessary quality to release him, so the service for the team's main goal threat was limited.

Rodgers immediately recognised the need for more enterprise behind Vardy.

Leicester now play in a formation with Maddison (JM) and loanee Youri Tielemans (YT) paired up as central attacking midfielders in front of Ndidi.

Tactical improvement
Vardy  With JM and YT Without JM and YT
Mins played 570 1713
Mins/Vardy goal 95.0 190.3

The balance is better and, between them, Maddison and Tielemans have created four goals for the Foxes' leading scorer.

Three of those Vardy strikes stemmed from precise through-balls that released him in behind for a one v one with the goalkeeper.

Vardy is revelling in the change, scoring a goal every 95 minutes on average when Maddison and Tielemans are both on the field with him.

Another strong season

Now that Leicester's approach is built around Vardy and his attributes again, the difference in his output is incredible.

He can be more confident that his clever runs will be seen early and his play has been sharper.

Thanks to the less ponderous nature of Leicester's play, the former England striker is getting more opportunities, and in more space.

Studying Vardy's stats from his final six starts under Puel and comparing them with his figures in recent weeks, the upswing is hugely positive.

Vardy form pre- and post-Puel
 Vardy Shots Goals
MW28-33 20 7
MW22-27 9 1

Vardy is now a contender in the battle for the Golden Boot.

Although he remains an outsider, his tally of 15 goals puts him alongside Raheem Sterling, four goals behind the leader Sergio Aguero.

Given he has been leading the line for a side who struggled for creativity prior to Rodgers' arrival, this must be viewed as another fantastic season for Vardy.

Indeed, given he is scoring every 151.9 minutes on average, he is on course to register his most efficient goalscoring campaign since Leicester’s title triumph in 2015/16.

Vardy season comparison
  15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19
Appearances 36 35 37 28
Goals 24 13 20 15
Mins/goal 130.8 216.0 162.8 151.9
Conversion rate 26% 31% 34% 26%
Also in this series

Part 2: McTominay power giving Man Utd a new dimension
Part 3: Imperious Van Dijk in a league of his own
Part 4: Playing Ozil can make Arsenal feel at home

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