Without doubt the story of the Premier League season has been Leicester City’s rise. The Foxes ended 2014/15 in good form, but many just saw this as Nigel Pearson getting a late response from his side as relegation threatened. So when he was sacked and replaced by Claudio Ranieri over the summer, more than a few fans were sticking a fiver on the King Power Stadium being a Championship venue in late 2016.
Alas, football has a habit of making fools out of us all, and Leicester are joint leaders of the top tier in DECEMBER. Jamie Vardy’s performances have grabbed headlines with his 13 goals – 11 in his last 11, which has broken a record… apparently – but the 28-year-old, who once upon a time played in the non-league (another fact we haven’t had rammed down our throats yet) has been ably supported by a cast of decent players.
Manchester United are thought to be interested in Vardy, who has a £30m price-tag heading into January, but the stats show that at least two other names should be under serious consideration… Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante.
WhoScored’s number crunching tells us that Mahrez is the BEST player in the Premier League on form. The Algerian has been simply stunning to watch, combining the pace and neat skills you may expect from any flashy winger with the end product managers crave. Seven goals and six assists is a mighty return for a player few had given a second glance since his 2014 arrival in England, and such numbers, combined with how exciting he is to watch, suggest that he could quell Louis van Gaal’s need for creativity and speed in the final third.
Behind only Mahrez and Vardy in terms of contribution so far this season is Kante. Signed over the summer, the 24-year-old has been an absolute machine in the Foxes’ midfield, winning the ball regularly to help kick-start the club’s trademark counter-attacks. The Frenchman has made 55 tackles (the most of any player in Leicester’s blue shirt), averaging out at 3.9-per-match, while his 4.3 interceptions-per-game is equally impressive. With Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick’s legs slowing, Kante could be a great option for LVG.