The Biggest Month

Due to the International break we’ve had only one domestic game since the last blog post.  Against Palace we grinded out another 1-0 win and another 3 points. I didn’t manage to get to Selhurst Park but by the sounds of it, it was a scrappy game with us being the deserved winners.  By all accounts we created the most chances and we were the better team over the 90 minutes.  Late on Palace created chances but again the sign of a great team is to go away from home, not at your best, grind out another 1-0 win and keep yet another clean sheet.

Three 1-0 wins on the bounce now, it’s a great confidence booster and a great test of the whole team.  The Palace 1-0 was a huge result because Tottenham aren’t going away, we keep thinking they’ll slip up but they just keep going.  Kane is bang in form at the moment and just at the right time for them and for England.  Kane & Vardy are without doubt the two top strikers in the country right now.  Kane is now on 21 goals and Vardy’s now on 19.  I still fancy Vardy to win that battle looking at the games we’ve got coming up.

As I’ve said in previous blog posts and various TV/radio interviews, I still believe it will be all over in April and we will be champions with three games to spare. This month we have 3 home games and one game away against Sunderland.  Tottenham play Liverpool today, so hopefully by the time we play Southampton on Sunday Spurs have slipped up.  That would be a huge psychological boost for Leicester going into that game.  I’ve always said April will be a big month, and for me this is now the biggest month in the history of Leicester City Football Club.

There’s only 7 games left, but the longer Tottenham hang on in the there the more we feel the pressure.  If it goes into the last three games, we’ve got Everton at home, Man U & Chelsea away.  While these aren’t easy games, this current Leicester City side are more than capable of picking up maximum points in each of them.  We do want it finished as early as possible though, then the last 3 games can be just one big party for all of us.  Can you imagine the atmosphere at the King Power stadium if we are already champions when we play Everton?

What a great international period for Leicester City, 16 players out on international duty over that past 2 weeks at various age levels. Vardy is definitely on that plane, what a sublime flick that was against Germany, I hope Roy starts him for England in the summer. Brilliant from Drinkwater too, Man of the Match appearance and with that he’s just given Roy a huge headache.

Also great to see Kante scoring on his first International start for France, I love this guy and I hope he stays at Leicester for a long, long time to come.  I read some worrying words that he was quoted as saying about his future, but we all know how things can be twisted to make a good news story.  I’m sure the club want him to stay and I’m sure they will do everything in their power to keep him here.  He’s had a phenomenal season and it’s only natural for press speculation, I would love to see him in a Leicester City shirt again next season and for many more to come.

Because of the international break I had some spare time so went away to Newquay for a few days with some good friends of ours.  Never again though, took an 8 hour drive to get home.  But it was great to get away, beautiful place and good to relax for a couple of days.  Back to business now though and I’ll be back to work at the King Power tomorrow for the Southampton match in my lucky shoes, they haven’t let me down yet.

April’s also a very exciting month for me as we are about to launch an exciting new project that Im involved in called Walshy’s Sports Pad.  Walshy’s Sports Pad is a Leicester based multi sports simulator centre and is the first of its kind in the UK.  More details will be announced shortly.  Please see some pictures below.

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8 Games Left, 5 Points Clear

8 games left, 5 points clear.  It’s pretty much looking like a two horse race between us and Tottenham from here on in.  Of course it would be foolish to write off Man City or Arsenal just yet.  Yes, they’ve both had bad runs recently but they’ve got bundles of depth and experience in the squad so we can’t count them out at all just yet.

We’ve just played games against Watford and Newcastle from which we picked up 6 points and secured a 5 point lead at the top of the table, great to see Okazaki on the scoresheet at home.  We wasn’t always comfortable during these matches which is understandable at this time of the season with so much at stake.  You only have to look at some of the great Premier League winning sides to see that you can’t always win games glamorously, you do need to grind some results out.  Grinding out results is more a sign of a league winning side than one of a side whose bubble is about to burst.

There is definitely some positive nervous energy about, I know as an ex player that it’s there.  If you’ve got nothing to play for you can just go out and enjoy your football, but when you’re at the top you’ve got a different type of nervous energy, especially with the immensity of what it means to all involved with Leicester City.  What Leicester City are on the verge of is massive for our club and its supporter, so of course it’s only natural that there are plenty of heightened emotions going into each and every game.

Although the last two games were a little scrappy, at this stage of the season nobody really cares how we play, it’s all about the results.  Scraping 1-0 wins from now until the end of the season will see us crowned champions.  We’ve now reached the point where the ultimate goal is clear, 1st place.  That’s the target, that’s now the focus and that’s what we’re all hoping and aiming for.  To finish in the top 4 of the Premier League is a huge, huge achievement and one that would have been dismissed by most of us back at the start of the season.  It’s a huge testament to all involved at the club that to finish below top spot would now be tinged with a little disappointment.  How weird does that feel?  Very mixed emotions there.

This is all being talked about in the media as one, if not the greatest ever footballing achievements of all time and lots of comparisons are being made to what Forest did back in the 70s. I remember very clearly what Forest did and it was incredible, it still is to this day.  I personally think it’s unfair to make comparisons just yet.  It’s two different eras, two remarkable yet very different achievements.  It’s probably better to discuss this at the end of the season, but even then it’s still difficult to compare the two.  To say one of these is the biggest achievement only serves to belittle the other, which probably isn’t right.

Another remarkable achievement this season is what Bournemouth are doing.  Bournemouth are staying up, most of us are fairly confident of that and I put that down to the great job that Eddie Howe is doing.  It’s great to see young Managers being given the chance and going for it.  I’m a little tired of seeing the same old faces going from club to club with the same old styles of football.  Me, I’m a fan of the Director of Football role and would love to see more of the younger Managers being given a chance at the helm with a more experienced Manager working behind them in a mentor type role.

On a lighter not, the Vardy Quake.  You’ve only got be in the ground to see what the effect the crowd is having on the game.  The noise, the tremors, the atmosphere are all incredible.  It’s a great time to be a supporter of Leicester City right now and it’s also a great time to be a player too with this support behind them.

We’ve got two very tricky games coming up against Crystal Palace and Southampton, but games where 6 points is the target.  6 points from these two games and we’re within touching distance of the title. Palace away this afternoon, they’re 8 points above the relegation spots, but we saw last season how teams can go on big runs towards the end so they are still looking over their shoulders and want points to guarantee safety as quick as possible..  Southampton, they’re currently 7 points off of 4th spot and will also be looking to score points.  Fingers crossed for some open playing football with plenty of opportunities to use our speed in attack.

Coming up soon we have the PFA awards.  I think we’re in with a great shout here, Mahrez, Vardy, Drinkwater and Kante have all got to be involved somewhere.  If we do go on and win the league then we could go on and clean up at the awards.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of course now that Vardy will start scoring again so the Golden Boot is certainly within his grasp.  PFA Player of the Year; For me personally, I would vote for Kante.  The work rate this guy puts and the ease of which he can retrieve a football from the opposition has been a huge contribution to our success. However, he’s not a headline grabber, he’s not a player who scores spectacular goals or stands out in the limelight so I’m not sure he’d be on their radar if they’re not watching him every game. So as far as City players are concerned, I believe it’s a toss up between Vardy and Mahrez.

We’ve got two great nights coming up at The Poachers Brasserie in Thurlaston.  An Evening With Emile Heskey.  This will be a Q&A event with a 3 course dinner on Thursday May 5th.  Further details to be announced shortly.  Also the Tiger’s boys are with us, an Evening With Geordan Murphy and Richard Cockerill on Thursday 21st April, again further details to be announced shortly.  For more info on these and anything else please contact me via the Contact Walshy page here: Contact Walshy

If these two events are anything like the recent one we held there with Steve Claridge and myself, then it will be well worth attending.  I look forward to seeing you there.

We’ve also got some more Leicester City Legends games in the pipeline, so I’ll keep you updated as and when further details are available.

5 to 5

UnknownLast Friday I had a meeting at Leicester City and bumped into Big Wes, I’ve not seen him for a while so it was great to spend some time with him again. As a former player you fall in love with your shirt number, it becomes a part of you. I feel a bond to Big Wes, who like me is a solid number 5 and who at times can be similar to player to me. For sure he is one of the best Centre Halfs we’ve seen at the club for a long time.

We had a good chat about the club itself, the season so far and what’s to come in the next few weeks. I personally believe we’ll have the season wrapped up with 3 games to go, so I asked Wes what he thought, he just gave me a cagey wry smile and left it it that. I couldn’t read it, I have no idea what him or any of the players are expecting to happen. One thing is for sure, from the owners to the fans, we are all hoping to lift that Premier League trophy for the first time this season.

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Going into the Norwich game last week I was full of confidence, I totally expected us to brush them aside and walk away with a 3-0 victory. However that’s not what we got, I’m not sure whether the 2 week break helped us or not. It was a tough game, Norwich were playing good football and played with confidence. As the game went on, my heart was telling me that we would nick a goal in the last few minutes, but in reality my head was telling me that Norwich were the team most likely to go and nick one. What a cross from Abrighton! A stroke of genius from Ranieri to move Albrighton over to the right and bring on Ulloa in the 78th minute. Great cross, vital flick on from Vardy and and a great finish from Ulloa.

Speaking of Ranieri, he popped into my local Italian restaurant the other night, the Boboli in Kibworth. I wanted to go and introduce myself, but I though better of it, it was his private time (and I was worried he might not know who I was)!!

Back to the Norwich game. Norwich is a former club of mine, but unfortunately it’s a club I feel no affinity with, I made a move that under normal circumstances would never have entered my mind. I had just been thrown out of the club I love by Tater Peeler and just didn’t know where to turn or who to turn to. Playing Norwich always reminds me of a bad time in my life, but I wish them well, I think they will stay up this season and I hope they do. They played very well against us and I think they’ll continue that form. Good luck, Norwich.

West Brom, I think we was all disappointed with the result of the West Brom game on Tuesday night, we should have been out of sight long before the end. For 24 hours I felt a little deflated and saw our lead at the top being taken away from us. Wednesday night, what a great Wednesday night that was, I can’t remember feeling that excited about a night of football where Leicester weren’t even playing. They all lost, all of them, Man City, Arsenal and Spurs. I still can’t believe it, we drew at West Brom and still extended our lead. This really is an unbelievable season.

It’s looking like Tottenham are our main challengers for the title now. I fancied them when I saw them play earlier in the season, but I didn’t expect it to be us that was up there challenging with them. They have a tough week ahead and on paper and ours looks a lot more favourable. Tottenham v Arsenal is an interesting game. If Arsenal win we can potentially be 6 points clear at the top, but if Tottenham win the gap to 3rd becomes even bigger and automatic Champions League slots are looking a lot more realistic. Whatever the result of that game, we benefit somewhere.

To summarise, I still think the next 6 games will decide our season, we need to win the Premier League during these matches, and I think we will.

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If you’re not yet aware of what I’ve been doing this past couple of years or so, me and my good mate Muzzy Izzet have set up and been running a successful footballing academy for 16-18 year olds in Leicestershire. Spaces for the 2016/2017 academic year are currently filling up very fast, so if you’re interested in finding out more please contact us ASAP – http://www.afdaleicester.co.uk/

Steve Walsh Blog – 20th February 2016

It’s all too easy to look at the Arsenal game as a huge defeat and a hammer blow in our race for the Premier League Title (it still seems incredible saying that). Given the nature of the defeat it’s all to easy to think like that, but I prefer to look at it from a different view. We had a series of three games in which I would have been happy for us to collect 3 or 4 points. We did better than that, we got 6 points against Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal which in any other season would be considered nothing other than a dream result.

So where does that leave us? I’ll stick my head out here and say that I think we’ll win the league, we’ve got a series of very favourable games coming up that are all winnable. We’ve got games coming up against teams who need to attack to avoid relegation and teams such as Chelsea and Everton who have a huge point to prove to not only themselves, but to owners, fans, the media and the like.

The speed we have in the squad at the minute is exactly what we need in these types of games, teams are frightened of attacking us and quite rightly so. Tactically and professionally, Claudio Ranieri is bordering on genius. Sometimes a manager and a club just click together and the way it’s working with Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh is a perfect example of this. It’s a Dream Team with every person playing a key important role. There are no egos, we’re a proper team all the way through.

For me though, the most important thing to get out of this season is Champions League Qualification which is now looking very promising indeed. This is a massive step towards securing the future of Leicester City as one of the “big” clubs. This is without doubt a history making season, it’s definitely the best seasons I’ve ever had both playing for and watching Leicester City. Not only are we making history with our league position, but we have Jamie Vardy rewriting the record books and numerous players being talked about for international call ups in the summer. We really are in dreamland now.

In 2014 the owners of the club they said they wanted to be a top 5 club within 3 years. A lot of people are now eating their own words, I remember some of the things I read and heard at the time, but those of us within the club always knew what was possible.

The owners have come in and made a solid commitment not only to Leicester City Football Club, but they’ve also made a commitment to Leicester as a City and the county of Leicestershire. It’s not information that’s always available, but I see personally what they are doing for the local community. These guys aren’t just here to make a few quid and scarper, they are making this their home and making us their family. The future of Leicester City Club is very bright indeed and I hope they stick around for a long, long time to come.

So what’s happening? Where has this season’s success came from? Well we have the team spirit, we have made one or two key signings and largely kept the nucleus of the side together. Then there’s my lucky shoes, I didn’t wear my lucky shoes against Arsenal and look what happened? I don’t really think there’s one single answer, I think it’s just a very good team with very good players with a great team spirit…and of course my lucky shoes.

What the backroom staff are doing here is truly incredible. The money is there and it’s being invested wisely, very wisely indeed. I know because I’ve been on the opposite end of what we’re seeing now when Tater Peeler was here and was given £26,000,000 to hand out to more or less any club that came in asking for it. We all know how that ended up, a relationship that I had with the club I loved so much was ended acrimoniously and administration followed shortly after. So I know what bad business in football looks like and this is a long, long way from those dark days.

So into the next few games we go, when we lost to Arsenal earlier in the season the very next game was against Norwich and we went on a great run. We’ve just lost to Arsenal again and the next game up is Norwich again, another run like that will see the Premier League title at Leicester City for the first time ever.

Come on you #fearless Foxes, you’re no longer the Underdog

It’s the Battle of the Blues

Last weekend’s trip to Wales was another huge success for the Foxes and another important three points on the board but the highlight for me, as for most of us, was the performance of Riyad Mahrez. Great for the team but also a huge achievement for him personally, securing his first hat-trick in professional football. I have been close a few times, against the likes of Watford and Millwall, but I never got that third goal, but it must have been a tremendous feeling to come away with the match ball and a very proud moment for him.

We put in a magnificent display at the Liberty Stadium and once again demonstrated our competence away from home. There are still a lot of clubs and pundits just waiting for us to slip up but we are heading into Christmas in the best position we could have hoped for and we should be in the top four entering the New Year which was unimaginable this time last year. Now we have got people talking about Champions League places and even winning the Premier League. In fact, I have a friend who every year bets £5.00 on LCFC to win and, at odds of 2500 to 1, he is praying for that become a reality as we are the closest we have ever been!

Claudio Ranieri though remains adamant about his 40 point goal and, with 32 points already in the bag after 15 games, I am confident that he will get his wish. He came in with hopes of consolidation and keeping us in the league and I think what we have achieved has probably startled even him.

Next up are Chelsea, last year’s League Champions, but this year they seem to be struggling with the Premier League: currently in 14th place and with only 2 points separating them from the relegation zone they are another team shocking the football world this year but for very different reasons. Of course the loss of their number one goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, at the very start of the season will have had a big impact and now that he is back we need to be on the ball (literally), but it is amazing to be heading into Monday’s match as favourites and I think it just shows what we have achieved so far this season.

Up to now we have had a loss and a draw from our meetings with the so-called ‘Big 6’ so it would be terrific for this to be our first win and against Ranieri’s old club! A win against Chelsea would just give us that extra edge as we continue into a month of tough competition.

For us now it is a matter of keeping up the momentum, the confidence and the enjoyment. We have the talent to achieve great things: indeed we already have and this year I honestly believe could be LCFC’s best ever.

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A Thirteen Place Difference: Unlucky for Some

What another fantastic weekend for the Foxes; Jamie Vardy is now the official record holder for most goals scored in consecutive Premier League games and he has firmly put himself and LCFC on the map. Add to that the performance against one of the World’s most revered teams resulting in a point from the second of our games against the ‘Big Six’ and you can understand why Leicester City’s fans keep on chanting.

We were the better team on the day; we took the lead; we frustrated Manchester United’s stars and we showed ourselves as the exciting, dominant team that we have become. I don’t think any Foxes fan will have come away disappointed.

What I love is Claudio Ranieri’s continued modesty. His team are smashing the Premier League at the moment but his aim remains the same: to stay up for another season. I am really pleased for the owners too. Two years of work is paying dividends. They have put in solid foundations and built a real “team” that has allowed the emergence of the likes of Vardy and Riyad Mahrez – another absolutely scintillating player to watch. We are getting a lot of attention again as a club but this year it is for all the right reasons.

And still the team look like they are loving every moment. They are happy and relaxed going into every game and you can see the confidence and camaraderie between them. It is absolutely fantastic to watch.

The next few games will not be easy but they also present further opportunities to cement our place near the top of the league. Swansea City this weekend and Chelsea the next – both clubs struggling with their performances this season – while Manchester City are suffering some key injuries which could affect their competitiveness come the last game of 2015. Liverpool will be tough on Boxing Day but again they are no longer a team we need to be intimidated by. Given our current form, if we go into the holiday period prepared and keep our composure and professionalism, the Foxes could grant the Christmas wishes of fans everywhere.

Heading into January, I wouldn’t be surprised if we spend some money in the transfer window. We need to ensure we have the strongest cover up front so we can keep this dream season very much a reality. I think we will definitely see some interest for Vardy from elsewhere, with rumours already circulating about the likes of Chelsea eyeing up the Premier League’s top performer, but I wouldn’t underestimate the power of LCFC’s owners. They wouldn’t lose him easily and they will be preparing themselves to defend any threats to our dream team.

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The Foxes Won’t Stop at Red

He did it! Jamie Vardy equalled the record held by Ruud van Nistelrooy back in 2003 as he planted another shot perfectly into the back of the net against Newcastle at the weekend. But the record chasing won’t stop there: could he yet beat the record held by Jimmy Dunne since 1932, who scored in 12 consecutive top flight games for Sheffield United or even achieve the most goals in a Premier League season – a record held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer who both netted 34 goals in a single campaign? I’ve got a feeling that this young striker can achieve most things he sets his mind to in his current form, so watch this space!

As I said, we were always the favourites going to Newcastle on Saturday but it is never an easy task and so to achieve another clean sheet and a comfortable win was a great result for the squad and exactly what we needed to start the countdown to Christmas. What was a real eye-opener was how easy the Foxes made it look. Vardy was creating chances and another couple of good goals from Leonardo Ulloa and Shinji Okazaki were enough to seal the fate of the Magpies and return us to the TOP of the premier league once again. It demonstrates the strength and depth of the squad: we have got a really great team and we are stamping our authority on this year’s campaign.

Next up we face those little red devils as Manchester United return to the King Power after last season’s amazing 5-3 result. But, can we do it again?

To be honest, I think we can but I think the scoresheet will be a little tighter this time around. You cannot underestimate a team like Manchester United, but they are struggling in the Champions League and only just scraped through last week against Watford. With the backing of the Foxes’ fans and the atmosphere they create at home, alongside our recent form – most goals scored in the Premier League, only one loss this season – we deserve our position in the league and have a real shot at continuing to generate fear in our opponents’ minds. I think if we go into the game in the professional, focussed manner we have all season we will create problems for United and we could definitely get some more points on the board. The next four or five games are all pretty big, winning this weekend will be just the boost we need to take us into December on a real high.

Claudio Ranieri is certainly a wise Manager. He is not afraid to make substitutions and his tactics are undeniably effective. He has done what we expected by taking the work that Nigel Pearson started, applied his infamous ‘tinkering’ and now we are reaping the rewards. Not a lot of clubs choose a 4-4-2 but Ranieri is using the pace we have and creating a counter attacking force which is difficult to stop – long may it continue.

But, LCFC is not my only team and we’ve had some great results from the teams at the Academy this week too: coming up against Loughborough College and Thresham College and winning with clean sheets against both so, congratulations to the lads at AFDA. You never know, one of them could make it all the way to LCFC at this rate. For information on AFDA’s fixtures and results visit www.afdaleicester.co.uk

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The Magpies Are Not Stealing Our Sparkle!

You may recall my blog from a fortnight ago which carried the tragic news about Jack Patrick; the 20 year old City fan who sadly passed away.  This week I was honoured to attend his funeral and I was not alone.  The service took place in Countesthorpe in a sea of blue tributes which spilled outside as so many people came to pay their respects; a fitting tribute to a great young man who will be sadly missed by many.  And, in testimony to both Jack and his family, they have ensured that even in the face of tragedy Jack has made an impact on others by donating his organs to two donors who will now live on as a result of their generosity.  Once again, I would personally like to offer my condolences to Shaun and family and thank them, and Jack, for their support and to offer them mine in return through this terribly hard time.

Obviously we were not on the pitch this weekend due to international fixtures, but the team were still playing well and it was good to see a total of nine Foxes representing their national teams: Christian Fuchs and Gokhan Inler came face to face from opposite halves as Austria faced Switzerland; Riyad Mahrez was again on fine form as he helped Algeria to secure a monumental 7-0 win over Tanzania, contributing one of the goals; Shinji Okazaki and Jeff Schlupp also helped their teams on the road to World Cup qualification while Kasper Schmeichel helped Denmark to a second leg draw against Sweden although, sadly, that was not enough to see them through to Euro 2016.  Also adding to their tally of caps were Andrej Kramaric, Wes Morgan and Harry Panayiotou. Fantastic news also for ex-Leicester City Manager Martin O’Neill as he guided the Republic of Ireland to a place in France next year – a huge well done to the team and, of course, my “old gaffer”.

Sadly, the main international news was overshadowed by the tragedy in Paris on Friday evening during their friendly against Germany and I’m sure all the LCFC fans join the rest of the UK in offering their support to the victims and the two squads involved.  It is of some comfort that the intended attack within the stadium was averted and potentially thousands more saved; we have a huge amount of respect to the French squad for continuing with the Wembley fixture on Tuesday in light of the circumstances.

This weekend the Premier League returns in full throttle as we head up to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle.  I remember this was always a classic game, sometimes offering up a little controversy, but it is definitely another opportunity to strengthen before next week’s home match against Manchester United.  Another 3 points would be a perfect starting point for the run up to Christmas and, if the lads need it, a little added confidence before we face the likes of Rooney and Co.

Don’t be fooled though, Newcastle will be a hard game.  Yes, they have been struggling this season with some of their performances but you need the right mindset to face St. James’ because, believe me, you’re playing against the crowd as much as the eleven men on the pitch.

We’ve yet to have confirmation if Jamie Vardy will be fit to play this weekend after missing England’s two internationals due to injury but fingers crossed he can get back on the record-breaking run and secure his place in history this weekend.  Thankfully, if he does miss out the Premier League have confirmed it won’t disqualify him from pursuing the record but, with the games we’ve got in the offing, this weekend would probably be his preference to get it in the bag.

However, his health will be Claudio Ranieri’s priority so we will await advice from the medical team and if Vardy needs a further week so be it (that’s if they can keep him off the pitch!).  But the squad is still strong. In his current form, of course, Vardy would be missed but we’ve got the players we need to get the job done; we’ve got £30 million of talent sat on the bench, so every match we can put out a Foxes force to be reckoned with.

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Next Step: World Domination

Next Step: World Domination
Firstly, thank you to all the supporters last weekend who joined us in showing our respect to the brave veterans of the world with an immaculately observed minute’s silence.
But, as expected once the game got underway, little could then contain the noise! What a weekend for N’Golo Kante as he netted his imagefirst goal for LCFC and what a goal it was as he somehow sneaked it past an unsighted Gomes to put us 1-0 up; his smile said it all. Much has been said about the team spirit between the Foxes but the second goal just epitomised that for me as Mahrez handed over the penalty to Vardy, ensuring his scoring sequence remained intact and still in the running to contend with Van Nistelrooy – fantastic.
This week has also seen Jamie Vardy named as Barclays Premier League Player of the Month for October ahead of Arsenal duo Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Watford’s Odion Ighalo and Stoke City’s Jack Butland. Ranieri got pipped to the post by Arsene Wenger, but Vardy praised the Tinkerman as instrumental in his own title win.
And it’s not just on the pitch but also the pitch itself! Often overlooked are the Groundsmen that keep King Power such a fantastic destination for football but this week they were awarded the Football Grounds Team of the Year award, beating Manchester United to the accolade – massive congratulations to the Grounds team for it is extremely well-deserved recognition for all their hard work.
This weekend we see a break from the Premier League action but, with 14 Foxes on International duty, the boys aren’t getting a rest. The squad will make their way across four continents to represent their countries, and it’s nice to see LCFC en-route for world domination!
It could be an interesting meeting for Fuchs and Inler as they cross paths in the Austria v Switzerland friendly and Schmeichel is set to join his country mates in the Denmark v Sweden qualifier. However it’s not just the first team getting in on the action as our U21s also have the continent in sight with Ben Chilwell representing England’s U21s and Simonas Stankevicius representing Lithuania. Good luck to all the lads – enjoy it but come back safe and ready to fight for that third place spot.
On a final, more sombre, note; many of you may have heard the sad news about former Leicester City goalkeeper Marton Fulop who passed away this week. Marton joined LCFC on loan in 2007 and made 27 appearances for the club before returning to Sunderland; he was fantastic and I remember we wanted to keep him but, unfortunately, it was not to be. However, he was always remembered by the team and management with great fondness and will continue to be. I’d like to offer condolences from all the ‘Blue Army’ to his family and our thoughts are with them through such a difficult time.
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Will the Hornets Bring a Sting in Their Tail?

I feel like I’m repeating myself but it was another good display last weekend and another three points in the bag from West Brom.  Again, the whole team and the spirit they bring onto the field is admirable. Danny Drinkwater is performing particularly well in midfield; Kasper Schmeichel is putting in some solid performances between the sticks and, of course, who can ignore the double-act up front of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez who are putting some great play together and getting us the results.

You have to wonder how long we can continue to concede goals and still come back to gather points but with the current scoring rate – we’ve only been outscored by Manchester City on goals-for this season – Vardy is definitely the man of the moment.  He’s still on track to become a record Premier League scorer; needing just two more goals in the next two fixtures to join Ruud van Nistelrooy who found the net in 10 consecutive games for Manchester United back in 2003.  I really hope he does it and, to be fair, it is achievable with the next two games against Watford and Newcastle.  It’s a great feeling to put the ball in the back of the net: I remember when I got pushed up front after receiving a couple of red cards when we were in the Championship (1993), scoring 9 goals in 9 games and getting 16 goals that season. It’s such a buzz and I can see why Vardy’s always smiling!

What is great to watch every weekend is not just the wins but the team’s performances; they really look like they are enjoying the games, they’re focussed and there’s none of the fatigue that you see in some teams by this point in the season.  When you’re a player you go on ‘runs’ where you’re unstoppable like this but it’s important to realise that it will come to an end sometime and when a hiccup occurs, as with Arsenal, it’s about how you respond.

This season has been a real pleasure to see and great for the owners, fans and the city itself; it’s just what we needed and just reward for the investment of time and money everyone has contributed.

It’s no longer a case of staying up for Leicester (though Ranieri quite rightly is still looking for that 40 point target first and foremost) and I think we’ve got a great opportunity from our current position to keep pushing and aim high and, who knows, we could yet be visiting Europe next year.

We’ve got an exciting, but challenging, run up to Christmas when we welcome both Manchester clubs and Chelsea to the King Power and travel to both Liverpool and Everton.  Yes, these are the ‘big boys’, but I think we could pull out some surprises and I don’t think any of them can take a win for granted.

This weekend we face Watford who have been having a good debut season back in the top flight so we cannot take it for granted that we will get another three points on the table.  But we will be the favourites going into the weekend and at home I think the support we have might give the Hornets a bit of a shock; it’s definitely a difficult crowd to come up against as a visitor but a great one for us!

Last, but certainly not least, I wanted to say a special thank you to an avid Walshy supporter (obviously a man of taste), Jack Patrick; who, last Sunday at just 20 years old sadly passed away.  My thoughts are with Shaun (Jack’s Dad) and his family for their tragic loss and as a mark of respect we’ll be recognising Jack’s passion for the game with a round of applause at the 20th minute of the Watford game.  I have no doubt that all the fans will get behind this and we can show Jack and his family the support he showed the Foxes and keep his memory alive. May he Rest in Peace.

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