Vardy proves un­flap­pable in face of ter­race tor­ment

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football - At Sel­hurst Park

FOOT­BALL NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT As soon as the Crys­tal Palace taunts started in the sec­ond half, you just knew what was com­ing. Jamie Vardy has spent an en­tire ca­reer shut­ting his doubters up, so you can be sure there will be a re­sponse when his wife Re­bekah is that tar­get.

An au­di­ble laugh went around Sel­hurst Park, as the Holmes­dale Stand re­minded Vardy about the al­le­ga­tion made by Coleen Rooney over informatio­n be­ing passed from a user of Re­bekah Vardy’s Instagram ac­count.

But those who thought the songs were funny were not smil­ing when Vardy killed the game with Le­ices­ter City’s sec­ond goal and cel­e­brated by mock­ing the Palace ea­gle.

The fact Vardy’s arm­flap­ping, just yards from those who had jeered him, felt re­hearsed only un­der­lined the fact he had ar­rived at Sel­hurst Park pre­pared. He is ready to make his and his wife’s de­trac­tors pay.

“He’s so thick­skinned,” said the Le­ices­ter man­ager Bren­dan Rodgers. “One of those boys … that only makes him bet­ter. He will not shrivel up.

“He’s very con­cen­trated on his game, very fo­cused on the game. He’s a striker who is very rarely off­side be­cause of the tim­ing of his runs. You have to be so clever and bright to do that.

“He’s play­ing so well, like all of them.” It was in the 88th minute that Vardy swept the ball past Palace goal­keeper Vi­cente Guaita for his 10th goal of his sea­son and his 19th since Rodgers took over at Le­ices­ter. Palace man­ager Roy Hodgson worked with Vardy with Eng­land and will no doubt have no­ticed how Rodgers has re­fined the striker’s game to make him even more dan­ger­ous.

“Firstly, from a de­fen­sive per­spec­tive, he’s not hav­ing to press the whole back four,” said Rodgers.

“He’d do that all day for you if you asked him, but it’s now much more syn­chro­nised, shorter bursts of press­ing.

“He’s so clever in terms of the traps we set. And he’s play­ing more cen­tral. The other guys, it’s their job to cre­ate the op­por­tu­ni­ties. I’ve asked him to stay on the last line.”

Eng­land as­sis­tant man­ager Steve Hol­land was in the stands, pre­sum­ably to watch James Mad­di­son, ahead of Gareth South­gate nam­ing 2015/16 Pre­mier League Team P

1. Manch­ester City 11

2. Arse­nal 11

3. Le­ices­ter City 11

4. Manch­ester United 11

5. Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur 11

6. West Ham United 11 his lat­est Eng­land squad on Thurs­day. There must be a temp­ta­tion for South­gate to at least ask the ques­tion of whether or not Vardy would make him­self avail­able for his coun­try again, given his form.

Harry Kane and Tammy Abra­ham have started the sea­son im­pres­sively, but Vardy is the best­per­form­ing English striker in the Pre­mier League and, cru­cially, he of­fers some­thing dif­fer­ent to the rest of South­gate’s op­tions.

Mad­di­son’s trip to a casino af­ter pulling out of the last Eng­land squad has raised ques­tion marks over his fu­ture in­volve­ment in South­gate’s plans, but, on this ev­i­dence, he has to be given another chance. The mid­fielder set up Caglar Soyuncu, via a flick off Pa­trick van Aan­holt’s head, to open the scor­ing from a cor­ner in the 57th minute. The goal was Soyuncu’s first for Le­ices­ter and prompted the trav­el­ling fans to re­mind Harry Maguire, who left in the sum­mer, that his Manch­ester United team now trail the Foxes by 10 points.

Guaita had per­formed hero­ics sec­onds be­fore Soyuncu’s goal to push a Jonny Evans header over the Pts 31 25 23 20 17 16

Le­ices­ter City’s ti­tle-win­ning sea­son of four years ago was so un­likely that even the most de­voted sup­porter could not have en­vis­aged it hap­pen­ing again any time soon, but Bren­dan Rodgers’ re­vived Le­ices­ter have ac­crued only two points fewer at the same stage of the cam­paign and sit only one place lower in fourth. Those fans might dare to dream that light­ning could strike twice... bar from another de­liv­ery from Mad­di­son, who was in­volved in the best move of the match in the first half, which al­most re­sulted in Vardy open­ing the scor­ing.

Har­vey Barnes found the mid­fielder with a bril­liant flick and Mad­di­son pro­duced a sub­lime pass with the out­side of his boot to send Vardy scur­ry­ing into the left side of the Palace penalty area.

But, from a tight an­gle, the striker’s shot was saved.

This was just the kind of gritty away win Arse­nal would kill for and Le­ices­ter now go into Satur­day’s game against the Gun­ners with a six-point ad­van­tage over their top­four ri­vals.

Another vic­tory would put Le­ices­ter nine points ahead of Arse­nal and could even cost Unai Emery his job.

But Rodgers is far too clever to be get­ting ahead of him­self just yet.

“The team’s play­ing well, but we’re not get­ting car­ried away,” said Rodgers.

“I’m not go­ing to trap the play­ers with pres­sure to think of any­thing other than play­ing.

“They’ve been ab­so­lutely bril­liant since I came in. They’re hun­gry to learn. First class. The spirit’s very good.

“We’re try­ing to cre­ate some­thing here that we can sus­tain. We’ve had a very good start, some very good per­for­mances, dif­fer­ent types of wins.

“With 10 games to go, let’s see where we are.

“We al­ways want to be bet­ter, but we’re com­fort­able in the fact we’re chal­leng­ing.

“Peo­ple asked about Euro­pean foot­ball at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, but there are some in­cred­i­ble teams in this League with great qual­ity. Let’s work and try to get bet­ter.

“We’re in a good place, but there’s a long way to go.”

The ea­gle has landed: Jamie Vardy’s novel cel­e­bra­tion at Crys­tal Palace

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