Leicester’s Vardy back to his belligerent best
It’s only fair that, having taken righteous affront at Luis Suárez’s swan dive, this week we analyse a guy who may well be back in many manager’s fantasy thinking once again.
Jamie Vardy is no Rolls-Royce footballer, more of a ragged Ford Capri: nippy and a bit of a throwback.
But appearances can be deceptive because Vardy on Tuesday night lured Sami Nasri into a very slick, if morally questionable trap; a perfectly executed goading, “headbutt”-inducing, faux indignation sequence that broke Nasri’s spirit and patience.
Surely such unsavoury behaviour would have been condemned more roundly had the red-card victim been anyone other than irritant Nasri.
But Vardy didn’t cover himself in glory. Not that he’ll care. It was a performance that proved he has his mojo back after his work-to-rule policy ultimately helped get Claudio Ranieri the sack.
Rough around the edges he may be, but Vardy has something in common with Suárez: he cheats.
Noon kick offs unless stated
West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal
Hammering a non-league team — albeit a very good one — will not be enough to solve Arsenal’s problems in the league.
That said, what do WBA have to play for now? A chance for Arsène Wenger’s team.
Crystal Palace v Watford
Suspicions are that a fired-up Palace desperate to avoid the relegation trapdoor will have too much in the tank for an inconsistent Watford side.
For that to happen, they will have to stop being scared of their own fans, of course.
Everton v Hull City
Romelu Lukaku’s decision not to sign a new contract was a hammer blow to Goodison Park but it’s clear he has eyes for a Champions League club.
They take on Hull, who chalked up an impressive win over Swansea last time out.
Stoke City v Chelsea
Chelsea are cantering to the title and should move closer to the silverware this weekend.
Stoke are unbeaten in eight at home but surely don’t have enough.
Sunderland v Burnley
Well, if Burnley are finally going to win away, this is their chance.
West Ham United v Leicester City
Craig Shakespeare has probably seen more Much Ado About Nothing headlines than games since he took over, and the new Leicester manager has certainly rewritten the script (sorry) since being at the helm.
In fact, he’s just picked up last season’s playbook and they look ... exactly like they did last season: champions.
Bournemouth v Swansea City
Both teams are looking over their shoulder nervously and both have strikers in form. Josh King is on fire for the Dorset side and Fernando Llorente, who has a dead leg, for Swansea.
Home advantage and livelier attacking options could give Bournemouth the edge.
Middlesbrough v Manchester United
There is no a chance that, with Aitor Karanka sacked, Boro may actually decide to attack. It looks odds-on, to be fair.
Bad news for United, in that they will have to work a little bit harder than they thought for this victory.
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton
Harry Kane is out for up to two months with an ankle injury so Spurs have selection decisions to make.
Son-Heung-Min should get the nod and, despite the form of Manolo Gabbiadini, Spurs will get the job done.
Manchester City v Liverpool
City were awful in the first half against Monaco, while Liverpool were atrocious despite beating Burnley.
Both sides give the impression they would rather not defend, so this promises goals.
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