Talking Tactics

Key battles of Monday's matches

By Adrian Clarke 6 May 2023

Adrian Clarke looks at players who could prove decisive in Monday's three Premier League fixtures

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Adrian Clarke picks out the players who could prove decisive in Monday's three matches.

Player analysis - Jamie Vardy

Vardy will make his first ever appearance at Craven Cottage on Monday, and he arrives in west London with a renewed spring in his step.  

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By his lofty standards the 36-year-old has endured a difficult campaign scoring just three times, but he delivered a season-best performance against Everton last time out.  

Sharp throughout, he rolled back the years to net from a classic Foxes turnover in a thrilling 2-2 draw.  

Vardy's goal v Leeds

Sprinting inside right-back Ben Godfrey he raced clear from a James Maddison pass before rounding the 'keeper in style. 

Vardy goal Talking Tactics

This was Vardy’s second goal in as many matches under Dean Smith, following a vital equaliser he despatched as a second-half substitute in a 1-1 draw at Leeds United.  

You have to go back to October 2021 for the last time Leicester City’s legendary striker registered goals in three successive Premier League appearances.  

But that will be his aim against a Fulham side who rely heavily on goalkeeper Bernd Leno.  

Fulham’s No 1 has made the second-highest number of saves in 2022/23, and he could be kept busy again by a fired-up Foxes side in desperate need for points.  

Most saves 2022/23
Player Total
David Raya 138
Bernd Leno 128
Jordan Pickford 114

Leicester appear re-energised by Smith’s approach.  

They have been ponderous for much of the season, averaging an Expected Goals (xG) tally of just 1.2 per match. 

But playing at a higher tempo and looking to play earlier forward passes under their new manager, the Foxes are averaging 2.61 xG per match.   

Motivated to make a difference in Leicester’s quest for Premier League safety, the stage is set for Vardy to shine once again.  

Player analysis - Danny Welbeck v Alex Iwobi

Two former Arsenal team-mates should be prominent figures at Amex Stadium.

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Welbeck has already delivered his most productive Premier League campaign since leaving Manchester United in 2014.  

Scoring six goals and making three assists for Brighton & Hove Albion this season, the 32-year-old is enjoying a new lease of life under head coach Roberto De Zerbi.  

For the visitors, Iwobi has become an integral part of Everton’s starting XI.  

Missing just 22 of the 1,260 minutes of action since Sean Dyche took over, he is a player the Toffees manager clearly trusts.  

Having played in central midfield for Frank Lampard, the versatile Iwobi has primarily been utilised as an industrious right-winger under Dyche.

He is a strong dribbler (only eight players have completed more this season) and presses excellently too, recovering possession inside the final third on a regular basis.  

In their last match it was Iwobi’s precise right-footed volley that earned Everton a precious point at Leicester.  

Iwobi scores v Leicester

Carving out 22 more chances than any team-mate he is their most creative presence, and in open play Iwobi ranks joint-sixth in the division, making 53 key passes.  

This is an impressive feat for a player involved in a relegation-threatened side.  

Most open-play chances created
2022/23 Open-play chances
Bruno Fernandes 80
Kevin De Bruyne 63
Bukayo Saka 56
Martin Odegaard 55
Gabriel Martinelli 54
Alex Iwobi 53
Mohamed Salah 53

Welbeck, 32, who was part of the 2017 FA Cup-winning squad alongside Iwobi, has always been a hard-working forward.  

This fits in exceptionally well with De Zerbi’s desire to press from the front.  

His ability to produce varied types of finish has also held him in good stead.

Sharing his goals between headers and shots with both feet (three goals from headers, two with his right foot and one with his left), he is a striker that boasts a varied skillset.  

Having been involved in eight goals in eight Premier League appearances against Everton in the past (four goals and four assists), Welbeck will be one to keep an eye on.  

Player analysis - Keylor Navas

Signed on loan from Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Navas kept a clean sheet on his Nottingham Forest debut in a 1-0 home victory over Leeds back in February, but 13 matches have since passed without another one.  

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The Costa Rican would cherish a second shutout in what feels like a must-win encounter at home to Southampton.  

Despite their struggles this season Forest have scored in 15 of their 17 contests at the City Ground, so if they were to keep Southampton at bay, a key victory is probable.  

All four home wins for Steve Cooper’s side against bottom-half opposition did feature clean sheets.  

Navas, who has been largely impressive during his loan spell, will also be looking to bounce back from a below-par display in the 2-1 defeat at Brentford last weekend.  

The 36-year-old will perhaps feel he could have done better to keep out long-range strikes from Ivan Toney and Josh Dasilva, which had a combined xG of just 0.09.  

Forest & Saints goals conceded 22/23
  Forest Southampton
v top 10 42 42
v bottom 10 20 18

All six of Southampton’s victories this season have come against teams currently occupying a bottom-half spot, and head coach Ruben Selles will know his bottom-placed side need another three points in this fixture.  

Like Forest they have a significantly better defensive record against opponents in the bottom half, letting in just 18 goals across 17 matches.  

Selles made a big call by replacing No 1 goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu with Alex McCarthy in recent defeats against AFC Bournemouth and Newcastle United.  

If the 33-year-old retains his place at the City Ground, all eyes will be on how he performs in this crunch encounter.  

Under intense pressure not to concede in a match of this magnitude, McCarthy and Navas have to be at their very best. 

Also in this series

Part 1: Allardyce must bring back basics at Leeds
Part 2: Isak poses biggest threat to Arsenal's title hopes

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