No Vardy, no problem. Leicester are still capable of getting a result at Old Trafford
Matt Elliott scored both goals in Leicester's 2000 League Cup Final - and now the Foxes are on the verge of the most remarkable chapter in their history
Jamie Vardy is a huge miss for Leicester with suspension on Sunday. He has shown time and again this season that he can terrorise any defence. He’s been the talisman this year for the Foxes, but as a team they are still capable in his absence. There were fears ahead of the Swansea game that Leicester may struggle without Vardy, but those fears were washed away with that 4-0 victory.
In Vardy’s absence all eyes will be on Riyad Mahrez who is another player who has had a fantastic season. He’s a very special talent and his confidence will be sky-high after picking up the gong for PFA Player of the Year. Mahrez was bang in form last week against Swansea and can repeat that performance against United.
Don’t forget that Leicester went to the Etihad Stadium earlier this season and comprehensively beat United’s neighbours Manchester City – who at the time were the Premier League favourites – without Vardy being on the scoresheet. It’s very much a team effort.
Robert Huth got two goals in Manchester on that occasion and he has been magnificent at both ends of the pitch this season. Defensively he has been an enormous presence, and he has a number of crucial goals – including that late winner against Tottenham Hotspur in January. On that day Tottenham were probably the better team, but Leicester dug in defensively and ground out the result.
Goals have been at a premium at both ends at Old Trafford, but the Foxes have the bit between their teeth and are in the zone. They have shown that they have the intensity and solidarity to cope against Manchester United. Louis van Gaal’s side have picked up a bit of form recently and look a threat going forward now – particularly with Wayne Rooney back in the equation – but people underestimate Leicester as a unit. They are incredibly difficult to play against.
There will obviously be a lot of tension ahead of Sunday’s game – but Claudio Ranieri has done a great job of getting his message across to the players all season, and he’ll be telling them to go ahead and play their usual game.
Under the guidance of Ranieri, the players’ temperament has been exceptional. These players are not used to competing at the very top level, but their composure has been remarkable. A lot of that comes from a squad that includes a number of very experienced professionals – and that has been hugely beneficial. At no point have Leicester looked like buckling under pressure – if anything the opposite has happened and they appear to have grown in strength.
Sunday’s game will be close, and the most likely result looks like it could be a draw, but that would be enough should Tottenham drop points at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea on Monday night. The stuffing appeared to be knocked out of Tottenham after the draw with West Brom last week, and at the end of the game the players looked out on their feet. Dele Alli is obviously a huge loss for them after such a good season and it may be hard for Spurs to stir themselves to go again after last week’s disappointment.
A draw might not be enough to crown Leicester champions on Sunday, but dreams could come true on Monday evening.