By this time last year, Leicester City talisman Jamie Vardy had broken a Premier League record, scoring 11 straight goals in 11 consecutive matches.
The record earned him congratulatory messages from all quarters, including Ruud van Nistelrooy whose record Vardy broke. The fairy tale season continued all season and ended in him winning the Premier League with Leicester in May.
The result was a new deal worth £100,000 per week amidst a flurry of interests from top clubs. There were awards– like Sports Personality of the Year and Ballon d’Or nominations – invitation to the England national team amongst others. It was a remarkable year for Vardy but the player has quickly exited the spotlight and the goals have dried up.
The Foxes are set to play Sunderland – a relegation-threatened side this term – this weekend whilst being only two points above the relegation zone themselves. Vardy has now gone 15 games without a goal and his influence in the team is waning.
“Jamie deserves everything after what he did last season and hopefully being nominated for so many awards gives him energy. I don’t see a difference with Jamie last season – only the goals,” Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri said.
Vardy was substituted in the 2-2 draw against Premier League entrants this term Middlesbrough in the last game, with his starting shirt at the Kings Power Stadium under threat. This was a player that Arsenal – as thrifty as they are – valued £22 million this summer, which the player later turned down. The players stats seem to be drying up. PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez also seem not to be at his best and it is affecting Vardy. The Algeria international has sent just two passes since the Burnley game.
Michael Owen has said that Vardy is not a natural goalscorer, surprising considering his 24 goals last term. Newcastle legend Alan Shearer has asked that Vardy stop “sulking” as the scrutiny and pressure after every game continues.
English Championship side Aston Villa are set to host Blackburn Rovers his weekend. Steve Bruce could play Jack Grealish in the game at Villa Park after the youngster completed his three-match suspension.
Grealish suspension was because he stamped Wolves midfielder Conor Coady when both sides met in October.
Grealish featured in the Under 23 game this week. The player is expected to be fit to provide depth for Bruce, particularly as Jordan Ayew is suspended. Bruce would have tough decisions to make as Albert Adomah is struggling to get full match fitness after his dead leg incident in the 1-1 draw against Birmingham last week. Bruce may have to rely on Ivory Coast international Jonathan Kodija. The player is enjoying impressive form and is quite comfortable playing anywhere in the front attack.
Villa would be without their signing, Ritchie De Laet due to his long-term injury. The 27-year old player joined from Leicester City at the end of last term. He scored against Villa last year when he was with the Foxes in the first half of the season before his switch to Middleborough in January to help them get promotion to the Premier League
Blackburn have their own injury woes as well. His parent club – Watford – is assessing Tommie Hoban as his dislocated shoulder means he could miss up to three months. Derrick Williams remains sidelined for weeks due to his hamstring problem. There are issues with Wes Brown, Adam Henley, and Elliott Ward as well. Owen Coyle had to draft in Gordon Greer and Anthony Stokes as they managed to pass fitness tests ahead of the game against Wolves. Rovers played a draw with Wolves but would be seeking a better result as they visit Aston Villa.
Aston Villa signed defender Ritchie De Laet from Leicester City only in the summer hoping that he would be a major factor in the club’s push for promotion.
However, this was not the case as the defender has now suffered a major injury that rules him out for the season. The 27-year-old had to go off from the game against Brentford with a serious looking knee injury. The extent of the injury has just come out and it is not good news for the player and the club. It has been a poor start to the Championship campaign by Villa.
New manager Roberto di Matteo has been unable to change things around, but his job was always going to be difficult. Turning around the confidence of a relegated squad is very difficult and Villa have been going through relegation form for the last few years. The squad is extremely low on confidence and even the changes made in the summer has not helped much. Di Matteo admitted that is was a very bad news for the club, but he is hoping that the fresh assessments of the player will bring some good news.
Villa could only manage a 1-1 draw against Brentford and they are 17th in the table after just one league win so far.“Unfortunately, Ritchie De Laet has a serious injury, it’s looking today that he will need surgery so he will be out for a while.I feel very sorry for the boy. He was so happy to come here, to join us.He’s had a really positive impact within the group as well and has shown some good performances,” said the manager.“Absolutely gutted that I’m gonna miss this season but I’m sure the boys will turn it around and get us up there,” said the player on Twitter.
There are players that have never managed to win a league title with their respective club and those which have been able to do it never forget about making this accomplishment as it takes a very good team to make this happen.
Steven Gerrard is widely regarded as one of the best players from his generation who spent most of his playing career performing for Liverpool where he managed to 1 Champions League title as well as other numerous pieces of silverware the Englishman failed to win the Premier League with his former club Liverpool even though he spent over 10 years trying to add it to his collection, unfortunately for him it just never happened.
This shows that even some of the most performers haven’t had the privilege of winning a league title; however this isn’t the case of Leicester City’s Ritchie de Laet who performed with both Middlesbrough and Leicester City during the 2015-16 season of the Premier League and the English League Championship.
Ritchie de Laet certainly isn’t as known as Steven Gerrard or has had such a prolific career as the Liverpool icon but securing 2 different league titles is something that does deserve to be acknowledged.
It’s because of this unique accomplishment that the defender is now being linked with a move to other clubs as he has managed to stand out and make a name for himself as a player that can perform in different clubs and leagues without showing any significant signs of struggle.
The Belgian defender is reaching the last few years of his contract with Leicester City but he might be leaving sooner than initially expected if the rumors are indeed true and if any enticing offers are launched towards the former Manchester United player.
Steve Walsh reckons Leicester City would emerge as a force in the upcoming season too and would not just fade away.
Despite beating the Spurs for the trophy by a fair distance, not many in England are ready to give Leicester their fair due.
The general belief is that the big clubs with new recruitments would come blazing in the summer and for the champions, it would be tough to even stay in the first half of the standings.
But, Walsh banishes such comments. The ex-skipper opines Leicester had been steadily progressing for the last four or five seasons and it’s not that what they achieved came out of the blue and was all about good fortune.
The fact that the Leicester management has been able to keep the association with the superstar Jamie Vardy intact in spite of Arsenal’s efforts to break it, has assured Walsh even more that the Foxes would continue making further steps.
As per Walsh, for Vardy to commit to spend his most vital seasons at Leicester is wonderful.
Although the 51-year old says that a voice somewhere deep inside had been telling him that Vardy wouldn’t go, but, the issue was negotiated perfectly by the club and for that, the board’s cooperation is to be lauded too.
Also, heaping praise on the Leicester scouts who have been excellent in picking talents from different regions and leagues, Walsh has backed them to ensure the team has enough quality to be competitive in the top tier consistently.
Walsh, the Lancashire born defender who is a businessman now, had a long playing tenure at Leicester which concluded in 2000 as he moved on to Norwich.
He did not play for much long after that, retired just a couple of years later.
There is news that Derby County manager Nigel Pearson might make a bid for Ritchie de Laet in the summer.
The player who has been on loan to Middlesbrough last season will return to his parent club next season and with Ranieri announcing that he will be bringing new players during the summer; there are slim chances that de Laet will be getting enough playing time.
Nigel Pearson, who has just been appointed as the manager of Derby County, will be hoping that his team can secure promotion to the Premier League. For this, he will have to strengthen a team that has appeared to be short in some department.
Nigel Pearson will be hoping that Ritchie de Laet will be attracted by the prospect of getting regular playing time at Derby County in order to convince him to sign. Ritchie de Laet was signed by Pearson while he was at Leicester City and he has always remained a great fan of the player. He will hope that the experience the player has gained at Middlesbrough will be helpful when it comes to mounting a serious promotion push.
There is also news that Pearson might also be interested in signing another of his former Leicester player Matty James. Just as Ritchie de Laet, James also struggled to get regular playing time at Leicester City and will be hoping that he can revive his career at Derby County.
However, it is believed that no formal bid will be made before the end of the Euros. At the moment, Pearson said that he is focused on rebuilding the recruitment team at Derby County to ensure that they can detect talented young players. At the moment, he said there is a lack of infrastructure at Derby County and that he will be working on remedying this issue.
A poor decision by referee hindered Leicester City from taking their points’ advantage in double digits in Premiership on Sunday, but, still, Claudio Ranieri did not lose his grace.
It’s not an easy time to keep the patience for somebody in Ranieri’s position especially while being on the receiving end of the wrong decisions.
The Italy native has put his blood, sweat and tears to convert a dream into actuality, but, every point lost from here threatens for that dream to remain a dream only.
However, Ranieri reckons since he is a coach, what falls under his jurisdiction is to see how his players are going and that’s what he does rather than to keep an eye on the match officials and prepare a report card of their decision making.
As per Ranieri, the decisions are made in front of everyone and people watch everything from different angles on their television screens and they can realize themselves what is right and what is wrong.
However, providing his own point of view, Ranieri said that Vardy, who was sent off the pitch, doesn’t indulge himself in diving at all. It’s just that his speed of moving on the ground is pretty high and with that sort of speed, even if a slight contact is made, it straightaway comes under the scanner.
Ranieri also stressed that the ambition, which this journey of Leicester had started with, was to try and get enough points to avoid slipping to the second division. They never saw themselves as trophy contenders. So, the panic is not there as to what happens if they fall down from the top. If it happens and if another side, be it the Spurs or the Gunners or anyone, is better, they would be crowned champions.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has dismissed any chance of Arsenal producing a remarkable comeback to beat Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.
A 2-0 loss at the Emirates in the first leg means that Arsenal have a mountain to climb in the return leg at the Camp Nou. Their recent exit from the FA Cup coupled with poor domestic form in the league mean that the Champions League gains more prominence than ever. However, Arsenal have already suffered several exits at the hands of Barcelona previously at this stage.
Ferdinand expects more of the same since Barcelona are unstoppable right now. The Catalan club are unbeaten in the last 37 matches and come on the back of a fresh 6-0 thrashing in the la Liga. Their attacking power has been so immense this season that any frailties in the defence do not appear to concern them much.
The attacking trio of Neymar, Lionel Messi, and Luis Suarez have together scored more than a 100 goals between them. After having had just one win – against a Championship team – in the last five games, Arsenal are not expected to get anything and once again are expected to crash out at the last 16 stage.
“Do I give Arsenal a chance? No, not at all.They have got to go there and score three goals to win outright and not concede. Well tell me the last team that did that?How do you defend against Messi, Suarez and Neymar? You pray quitea lot – even if you’ve got a Manchester discount card! The problem with those three is that they can tear up a teamtalk within seconds. It’s almost impossible at the moment to stop them given the amount of goals they are scoring,” said Ferdinand. Arsene Wenger, though, remains confident about his team’s ability to come back into the tie.
The 27 years old Ritchie de Laet defender has never truly managed to stand out with his former club Manchester United and his current side Leicester City. The Belgium player has had to settle with a spot on the sidelines of the English club and things have recently turned even worse for him after picking up an ankle injury.
Ritchie de Laet sustained the injury during a training session with Leicester Cityand this has extended even further the period of time that the Belgium has to stay out of the pitch and worsening his chances of turning into a regular player.
The Belgium defender joined Leicester City back in May of 2012 after being released by Manchester United and Ritchie de Laet was a regular player for the English club as he managed to make 41 appearances in his debut season and in his 2nd season Ritchie de Laet made 36 appearances but as his time in the club has progressed, his role in the team has diminished.
Even with his diminished role in the English club, Ritchie de Laet is hoping that he return to his old ways and get consistent playing time in Leicester City and hopefully get the attention of the staff members of his national team and get a call from them to play for the Belgium side.
Leicester City’s Ritchie de Laet expressed his desire to turn into a prominent and regular player for Belgium as the defender told the media: “I would like to play for Belgium but, if you look at the quality in the squad, you have to play in a big league. I need to be in the Premier League so, hopefully, we will go up and I can keep my right-back spot and see what happens.
“A couple of years ago, I would have got into the Belgiumside. Carl Hoefkens, of Stoke, was playing and he was captain. He got into the national side so I probably would have. But there is a lot of talent now and they all play in big leagues around the world. That is what I need, to go up with Leicester.”
Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett believes that there are several young players capable of being promoted to the first-team before the end of the season.Rowett has been at the club for almost a year and he has transformed the club’s fortunes without investing heavily in the transfer market.
A large portion of the success has been achieved by promoting young players from the youth team. Viv Solomon-Otabor is one of the huge success stories for Birmingham in the last year.Rowett, however, says that he is not the only success story and there are more waiting on the wings.
The manager believes that the likes of Emmanuel Mbende and Charlee Adams have been showing tremendous qualityand this could see them promoted to the first-team in the near future. Even with only two wins in the last five Championship games, Birmingham have been able to maintain their position in the play-off places. Such has been the good start to the season. The club recently returned to form with a 5-2 win over struggling Fulham. This result will provide a lot of confidence ahead of the tough matches against the likes of Middlesbrough and Brighton and Hove Albion.
Solomon-Otabor was one of the scores for Birmingham in the win over Fulham. “We’ve got some good young players. One of the benefits of having a smaller squad is that we have to fill some of the gaps in with the younger players. If I had to look for the immediate ones I’d say [Reece Brown] Browny is in and around it. He was on the bench again at the weekend.Sometimes when your team is doing well and being successful they perhaps have to be a little bit more patient than they would be normally,” saidRowett, whose team take on Charlton this weekend.