By: Danny Shin
If you look at the Premier League’s leading scorers through nine matches, you would think that the usual big names like Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero and Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez would be leading the pack. However, one player is leaving both of those superstars in the dust.
You guessed it. It’s Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy.
The Englishman has nine goals in as many matches, three more than both Agüero and Sánchez, who sit in a tie for second. If Vardy can tally another goal on Saturday against Crystal Palace, he will become the sixth player in the last 20 years to score in seven consecutive matches.
Vardy looks like the frontrunner for October’s Premier League player of the month. September’s award went to Anthony Martial, the French teenager who made a big first impression for Manchester United after scoring in his debut against Liverpool before adding another two against Southampton. For the record, Vardy scored four goals across the same period, including two against Arsenal.
So why hasn’t Vardy received the recognition he should be getting?
It’s because the media spotlight shines brightest on the big-name clubs, whether that would be Chelsea trying to claw their way back up the table, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling scoring the first hat trick of his senior career, or Jürgen Klopp trying to return Liverpool to it’s glory days. In an age where the English Premier League has fans all over the world, a former factory worker from Sheffield may not be very popular with Americans, for example.
Besides his borage of goals that arrive once every 89 minutes on average, Vardy has had more shots on target (30) than any other striker. Due to his aggressiveness and motor, Leicester has reaped the benefits of playing to his strengths. Vardy is a constant menace and thrives in a team that plays high up the field, serving as Leicester’s first defender and focal point of attack.
There are several factors behind Vardy’s stunning turnaround from last season, when he only scored once in 24 Premier League appearances. The biggest reason is that manager Claudio Ranieri is using the striker through the middle of the field instead of out on the flanks. Doing this leaves the opposition much more exposed to Vardy’s pace and allows him to have a greater impact on the game.
In addition to the positional shift, Vardy has worked on refining his finishing skills by recognizing the importance of placement over power. His opening goal against Arsenal is a perfect example.
Last, but certainly not least is confidence, which should be oozing after his two second-half goals against Southampton last week salvaged a point for Leicester City. It’s unlikely that Vardy will keep scoring at his current rate. The real test for him will come when the goals start drying up for a few matches. We’ll see how a player in only his second season of Premier League football responds.
Even if he does go on a lengthy scoring drought, you have to admit that his journey to this point has been spectacular. Going from the Stocksbridge Park Steels in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League to the top of the English Premier League goal scoring charts and a spot in the England squad is quite a feat.