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Leicester City

‘City can taste qualification’ – Three things learnt from Manchester City 2-1 Leicester City

Rob Meech



Pep Guardiola Manchester City

Manchester City overcame a resilient Leicester City side to consolidate their Champions League aspirations in an incident-packed match at the Etihad Stadium.

Goals from David Silva and Gabriel Jesus had given Pep Guardiola’s men a two-goal advantage and seemingly put them on course for an easy afternoon, only for Shinji Okazaki to shrink the deficit shortly before half-time.

This spurred on the reigning Premier League champions, who were awarded a penalty when Riyad Mahrez was fouled by Gael Clichy. Mahrez stepped up and scored – only for the effort to be chalked off by referee Bobby Madley, who spotted that the taker had touched the ball twice when his standing foot gave way.

Here are three things we learned from an enthralling clash…

City can taste Champions League qualification

A couple of months ago, City were in serious danger of missing out on the Champions League altogether. But their defeat of Leicester leapfrogged them over Liverpool into third spot, if only temporarily, and put them within touching distance of securing their place in Europe’s showpiece competition.

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While Chelsea have steamrollered all before them en route to the title, Guardiola’s side have compiled an impressive run of results themselves. It’s now just one defeat in their past 10 Premier League matches, with the return of the Brazilian starlet Jesus from a metatarsal injury providing a timely boost in the absence of Sergio Aguero.

Another player back from injury is club captain Vincent Kompany, whose importance cannot be overstated. He has added steel to the defence, which in this fixture had to withstand considerable pressure from the Foxes.

No arguments – Madley gets the controversial decision spot on

It was no surprise that confusion reigned when Madley disallowed what appeared to be a perfectly legal penalty by Mahrez, which would have put the visitors back on level terms.

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The Egyptian had slipped while taking the spot-kick, with the ball touching his right foot before spinning into the back of the net via his left. Mahrez celebrated but the eagle-eyed referee had spotted the double-touch infringement, disallowed the goal and awarded City a free-kick, much to the bemusement of Leicester’s players who protested vehemently.

There is no doubt, though, that Madley made absolutely the correct call. Such an incident is uncommon and it would have been easy for him not to pick up on it, but he was up to speed with the rules.

Shakespeare deserves a permanent contract

Even in defeat here, Leicester showed the spirit that helped them become shock Premier League champions last season. It is a desire that was sorely lacking earlier in the campaign under Claudio Ranieri, whose sacking by the club’s owners stunned football but has been vindicated.

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Craig Shakespeare has always been an able deputy, but since succeeding Ranieri in a caretaker capacity, he has earned the right to be given the job on a permanent basis. The very real threat of relegation has been avoided, while the Foxes also came within a whisker of qualifying for the semi-finals of the Champions League.

With six victories in their past 10 league fixtures, Leicester supporters can head into next season with hope after initially fearing the worst. He may not be a big name with a reputation to match, but Shakespeare has proved he is up to the task.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Leicester City

West Ham and Leicester should pounce for Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri



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One player certain to be on the move this summer is Stoke City midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who will put an end to an unhappy spell at the bet365 Stadium, but could still stay in the Premier League to West Ham or Leicester.

Sky Bet offer odds as low as 1/10 that Shaqiri will depart this summer, with West Ham the leading Premier League club in the betting at 8/1 and Leicester City not far behind at 10/1.

That’s not to say that a stay in England is certain, particularly given that the two Milan clubs are favourites with Inter at 6/1 and AC Milan at 13/2, with Lyon also in the running at 8/1 level with the Hammers.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The winger has not hidden his disappointment with the team’s struggles this season and the Potters now face an uphill battle if they are to avoid relegation from the top flight.

The Swiss international will not entertain the idea of playing second tier football after a decorated career has previously seen him play for the likes of Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.

Having failed to live up to expectations since Mark Hughes brought him to England in 2015, he may be keen to make the move abroad, but with finances likely to be more attractive to remain in the Premier League he may not rule out such a move.

Leicester could be forced to sign a replacement for Riyahd Mahrez whilst West Ham will also be looking for options out wide when Joao Mario’s loan spell comes to an end.

His pace, power and strength could catch the eye of both sides but they will have their work cut out to convince him to remain in England this summer.

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Leicester City

Tottenham would be the perfect move for Leicester star Demarai Gray



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Having failed in their bid to bring Demarai Gray to Wembley for the 2017/18 season, Tottenham could be reigniting the interest in the hope of signing the young winger ahead of their move to New White Hart Lane.

Reports originating from ESPN say that Spurs are looking to sign the England under 21 captain after Leicester City refused to do business for the former Birmingham man in the past.

Gray’s form has not been as convincing as some may have hoped for this season, with just four goals and three assists from 39 appearances in all competitions, but that has not put Daniel Levy and company off.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Demarai Gray has found his game time limited of late, despite only missing three Premier League games to date this season. Since the turn of the year, the winger has made only four starts for the Foxes and may relish an opportunity to be trusted more regularly, particularly at a club like Tottenham.

Working under Mauricio Pochettino would undoubtedly be a huge draw given his reputation for developing young players. That is believed to be key to his interest in Gray, who could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Eric Dier and Dele Alli in joining the club and going on to become regulars in the Premier League and for England.

Leicester will not be keen to part ways with one of their most exciting young talents and will command a huge price, which may put Levy off, but there are few English players in his age range with such potential and if anyone could justify such a fee, it may well be Gray.

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English Premier League

17 goals in 32 games: Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy better now than title-winning season

The Englishman’s fine form has gone somewhat under the radar this season.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Jamie Vardy was a late developer, but he has emerged as one of the best strikers in the Premier League since Leicester City were promoted to the division.

His best season came when the Foxes sprung a surprise to win the league title during the 2015/16 campaign.

It would have been easy for the striker to trail off after that incredible year, but he has continued to work hard and is going into this summer’s World Cup as England’s form striker.

Considering Leicester are finishing the season with a stutter, the performances and consistency of Vardy have gone under the radar, but he deserves a lot of credit for his excellent goal-scoring campaign.

In 32 Premier League matches, he has scored 17 goals at a rate of one every 165.2 minutes. It is impressive for any striker to score as regularly as that and the 31-year-old will feel that he is at the peak of his powers.

Leicester have lost three of their last four matches and that has meant that the focus hasn’t been on the team. However, Vardy continues to deliver the goods in the final third, having scored in each of the Foxes’ last five matches.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

The England international currently has the record for scoring in the most consecutive Premier League matches scored. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that he has managed to hit another hot streak.

It can even be argued that Vardy has improved since Leicester’s league-winning season, especially when it comes to the mental side of the game.

He has become a more intelligent player and that is evident through his positioning and anticipation in the final third.

The 31-year-old gets a lot of chances from being in the right place in the right time, whereas during the 2015-16 campaign, the majority of his goals were carbon copies of each other. There would be a long ball over the top and his pace would give him the chance. Now, he is a much more complete player.

In addition to improving the mental side of his game, Vardy has become a more clinical finisher as shown by his sharp increase in chance conversion.

During the incredible title-winning season, the striker had a chance conversion rate of 20.9%. This campaign, it stands at a very respectable 28.8%. This is due to the striker gaining more experience and knowing how to take the chances that come his way.

Michael Owen once said that the Leicester City man wasn’t a natural finisher. That is no longer the case.

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

The stats also show a style-shift in Vardy, as he averages only 0.39 ball recoveries per ninety minutes, as opposed to the impressive 1.47 that he managed during the excellent season of two years ago.

This suggests that the striker realises that his body can no longer go as it once could and he is decreasing his overall workload due to this. As a result, he can focus on taking up dangerous positions and scoring goals.

Although Vardy is not likely to surpass his 2015/16 total of 24 goals, it can be argued that this season is just as impressive. He is playing in a mid-table side and has shown an improvement in his finishing, which was already at a high level during the title-winning campaign.

The Foxes front-man knows that he won’t get as many chances to score as he did back then, but he is making sure that he makes the most of them.

England will favour Harry Kane this summer in Russia, but the Leicester City forward will have a big role to play for the Three Lions. His form this season shouldn’t be ignored.

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