Ranieri backs Okazaki over Vardy at Le­ices­ter

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Le­ices­ter man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri ad­mits that Ja­panese in­ter­na­tional striker Shinji Okazaki is his pre­ferred op­tion for Pre­mier League out­ings rather than Eng­land star Jamie Vardy.

Vardy was left on the bench for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive Pre­mier League fix­ture on Sun­day as the cham­pi­ons were beaten 2-1 by West Brom. Okazaki part­nered Is­lam Sli­mani who scored Le­ices­ter’s only goal af­ter James Mor­ri­son had given West Brom the lead.

Vardy, last sea­son’s lead­ing scorer, made lit­tle im­pact af­ter step­ping off the bench at half­time. “In this mo­ment we play bet­ter with Shinji Okazaki,” said Ranieri. “To­day, we didn’t, but of­ten we do. I didn’t play Is­lam Sli­mani in the Cham­pi­ons League and I wanted to give a rest to Vardy.

“But it wasn’t right, they didn’t do what I asked so in the sec­ond half I in­tro­duced Vardy to at­tack the de­fen­sive line.” Mean­while, Ranieri backed Danny Drinkwa­ter to bounce back from the howler that ended their 20match un­beaten home Pre­mier League record.

Drinkwa­ter’s dread­ful back­pass handed Matt Phillips the win­ner for West Brom to in­flict Le­ices­ter’s first home league de­feat for more than a year.

Ranieri apol­o­gised to sup­port­ers for the end of the run but in­sisted Eng­land mid­fielder Drinkwa­ter will re­spond pos­i­tively. “I am very sorry we lost our un­beaten record at home,” said Ranieri, whose side main­tained their un­beaten Cham­pi­ons League record on Wednes­day with a goal­less draw in Copen­hagen.

“But we knew it would be a tough match against West Bromwich. It was the same last sea­son in the 2-2 draw. “The first half was not good. We tried to have a plan but it was dif­fi­cult to do this. The sec­ond half was much bet­ter but we lost the match.

He added: “Danny has said noth­ing. Ev­ery player can make mis­take. What can you say to him? “He is one of our best play­ers. It is no prob­lem. He will over­come that, of course.” For West Brom, a third vic­tory of the sea­son came thanks to Phillips’ first goal for the club. The sum­mer sign­ing from QPR had been dropped last week­end but was re­called at Le­ices­ter for the sus­pended James McClean and laid on Mor­ri­son’s goal be­fore scor­ing him­self.

“The big­gest prob­lem with Matt is that self­be­lief,” said coach Tony Pulis, who pur­sued Phillips for more than a year be­fore sign­ing him in the sum­mer.

“He’s got all the tools, he’s very quick, he’s got two great feet and he’s got a good goalscor­ing record.

“I had a chat with him last week and told him he has to start un­der­stand­ing that he’s a good player and he de­serves to be where he is.” West Brom tri­umphed with­out Saido Ber­ahino af­ter the striker was sent to France for a four-day fit­ness camp, from where he posted a pre-match In­sta­gram pho­to­graph show­ing off his mus­cles with the cap­tion “fat boy”.

Pulis joked: “He’s look­ing nearly there. Nearly!” — AFP

LA PAZ: Bo­li­vian player Juan Car­los Arce takes part in a train­ing ses­sion on Mon­day, in La Paz. Bo­livia will face Venezuela and Paraguay on No­vem­ber 10 and 15 re­spec­tively for World Cup 2018 South Amer­i­can qual­i­fier matches. — AFP

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