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Talking Tactics

Golden Boot: Vardy revived by Rodgers revamp

Adrian Clarke 9 May 2019
Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

Adrian Clarke on why Leicester striker has hit form under new manager to be in running for scorer's prize

Adrian Clarke looks at the top five contenders for the Golden Boot ahead of Sunday's final round of fixtures.

Jamie Vardy (18 goals)

Four adrift of Mohamed Salah’s 22 goals, Vardy’s prospects of winning the Golden Boot look remote. But none of the division’s leading marksmen are finishing 2018/19 in better form. 

Having scored nine goals in his nine matches under Brendan Rodgersthe 32-year-old is looking just as sharp in the box as when he helped Leicester City to win the title three years ago.  

Under the Foxes’ new manager, Vardy has scored at a phenomenal rate of once every 89.2 minutes.  

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Great fit for Rodgers 

Rodgers’ tactical approach has certainly benefited the former England striker.  

Leicester are moving the ball quicker through the lines, counter-pressing with intent and aiming to pick Vardy out with early passes or crosses before defenders are set. 

The veteran has also been supported by a pair of emboldened attacking midfielders within a 4-1-4-1 system, so has found himself less isolated than he was under Claude Puel 

With runners popping up around him to distract his markers, Vardy has become harder to contain, even when defenders have dropped deeper to negate his speed.  

New blood

A batch of young, hungry, creative players has given the experienced frontman a fresh lease of life.  

James Maddison, for example, has stepped into Riyad Mahrez’s shoes brilliantly.  

His four assists for Vardy are fewer than the Algerian’s seven from last term. But Maddison has already laid on 16 chances for Leicester’s leading scorer, one more than his predecessor did in 2017/18.

Meanwhile, the introduction of the speedy and technically able Youri Tielemans, Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira has improved the quality of service Vardy receives.  

The striker now has players around him who can see an early pass or cross and then deliver it with accuracy, which has given him renewed confidence to make runs off the ball.  

As the table below shows, the new faces have been key in supplying chances to Vardy since Rodgers’ arrival. 

Chances for Vardy under Rodgers 
Player Key passes Assists
James Maddison 5 2
Youri Tielemans 5 2
Ricardo Pereira 4 2
Marc Albrighton 3 0
Harvey Barnes 2 1
Ben Chilwell 1 1
Hamza Choudhury 1 0
Wilfred Ndidi 1 0
Kasper Schmeichel 1 0
Second best 

Playing with intelligence and hunger, while scoring different types of goals, this has been Vardy’s best season since the memorable 2015/16 campaign.  

He scored 24 goals that season at an average of one every 138 minutes. This campaign's 18 Premier League strikes have arrived every 146.6 minutes, the second-best ratio of his career.

Vardy will surely be targeting the 20-goal mark for this season when he faces Chelsea on Sunday, while Rodgers looks set to build his team around the forward once again next term. 

Also in this series 

Part 2: Golden Boot: Mane taking central role for Liverpool
Part 3: Golden Boot: Aubameyang thriving amid change
Part 4: Golden Boot: Aguero now a threat with both feet
Part 5: Golden Boot: Salah boasts skill set of complete striker

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