Leicester 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Three Foxes Talking Points

As we enter the business end of the season, the Foxes took the field against struggling Sheffield Wednesday at the King Power stadium on a rain-swept Tuesday evening. Here, we dissect the main talking points.

Jamie Vardy. Will he be offered a new contract?
Jamie Vardy. Will he be offered a new contract? / Neal Simpson/Allstar/GettyImages
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Coming off the back of four successive wins in all competitions, confidence was sky high in the Foxes camp and a comfortable 2-0 victory justified the optimism. In truth, Leicester could, and should, have scored more goals. In the first half, in particular, they were just too good for Sheffield Wednesday and, even in the second, missed a couple of really good chances. The first goal came courtesy of a terrible error by the Sheffield Wednesday defence gifting  Abdul a tap in after a neat dummy by Vardy. The second followed a sublime pass from Wout Faes which Kiernan Dewsbury Hall cutely knocked into Jamie Vardy’s path. The Leicester legend doesn’t miss those. 

 Three talking points:

Will the Foxes break the record?

There is much talk now about the possibility, or even probability, that Leicester, in the 19th season of the rebranded second tier of English football, will end the campaign by amassing the most points ever in a Championship campaign. The record is held by Reading who, in season 2005-6, won the title with 106 points. Leicester already share with Newcastle the second place having won promotion to the Premier League with 102 points in 2014 (the Tynesiders did it in 2010). Fourth place goes to Burnley who won the title last season with 101 points and Wolves recorded the fifth highest points haul with 99 in 2018.

 To make sure of breaking Reading’s record, the Foxes have to win 10 of their remaining 14 games. This won’t be easy. There are some tough matches still to come. Away matches at Leeds, Sunderland, Hull, and Bristol City look tricky as do home matches against Southampton and West Bromwich Albion. 

The other point to bear in mind is that this is a very unusual season. With Southampton and Leeds hot on Leicester’s heels, it is a salutary observation that even 100 points might not be enough to gain automatic promotion. Few would bet against the Foxes main rivals winning the bulk of their remaining matches. The maximum number of points Southampton and Leeds can end up with is 109 and 108 respectively. Still, LCFC are already have more points on the board than both of their challengers, 12 more than Leeds and 14 points more than Southampton, albeit the latter have played one game fewer. It is unlikely, if not impossible, that this lead will be overturned. 

The Vardy conundrum 

Should the club renew Jamie Vardy’s contract at the end of the season? This is a question that has exercised many Foxes fans recently. What are the pros and cons?

The yes cohort argue that Vardy still has much to offer. He looks fit and sharp even at 37 years old and can do a job for the club next season both on and off the pitch. His case certainly wasn’t harmed by his performance against the Owls with the usual intensity in his game and one trademark goal. Indeed, but for Dennis Praet’s poor pass, Vardy would have had a second. He is not like any other player Leicester have ever had. His aura is still enough to trouble defenders even before a ball has been kicked. To ditch him at the end of the season would be damaging to the club. Even if the decision to keep him is partly emotional, football is nothing without sentiment.

The no cohort argue that the club can’t afford to spend big money on wages for a player who will not be an automatic starter and cannot play for 90 minutes anymore. Older players are also more likely to miss games through injury, as has happened to Vardy this season. To offer him a new contract on his current salary (he is currently the best paid player in the Championship by a country mile) would be an emotional, rather than a rational, decision, a nod to what he has achieved for the club in the past rather than what he can do in the future. Yes, he has done well when he has played this season but it is the Championship. Last time out in the Premier League he wasn’t very effective, although, to be fair, the whole team was struggling.

The jury remains out on this one. 

The Drop-Off

Not for the first time this season, there was a noticeable drop-off in the performance of the Foxes later in the game. The first and second halves were like chalk and cheese. In the second, Wednesday were quicker and won more second balls creating pressure on the home team as a result. Raising this as an issue might sound churlish given the comfortable nature of the win and the position of the team in the table. However, as I pointed out in a previous post, Leicester have conceded some late goals this season and dropped points as a result. They can’t afford to drop too many more if they want to romp to the title well before the end of the season. 

Why does the drop-off happen? No doubt, it is partly to do with trying to conserve energy by keeping what they have. The Championship schedule is brutal and the Foxes can be forgiven for wanting to preserve a lead with the minimum of effort. The resilience shown by the team, shown at its greatest by the back-to-the-wall win against Watford last Saturday, has undoubtedly increased as the season has progressed. More worryingly, there is probably too an element of complacency that creeps in. Against Wednesday, Leicester were so superior in the first half that one could be forgiven for thinking the Sheffield outfit were from a lower league.  Another win and another three points. We can’t complain too much.

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