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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