Another great return from the international break with Vardy showing just why he is grabbing Hodgson’s attention.
Southampton are always a tough team to come up against and I admit I had a horrible feeling as we went into the break 0-2 down as I wasn’t certain we’d pull off another (our seventh) comeback. But once again Ranieri made some astute changes for the second half, bringing on Mahrez and Nathan Dyer, and Vardy cemented his position as the top Premier League goalscorer bringing us back into the game and securing us another precious point.
I’m really pleased for Vardy and his successes this season. He deserves the England selection on merit, his pace is electric and his passion is undeniable – the guy has been playing with a broken arm for the last month! And let’s be honest, it’s great for LCFC too. We’ve got some great international stars in the squad now and it just shows the professionalism and talent we have at the club. Of course there are always injury worries when players are out on international duty but we’ve got £30m worth of talent on the bench and Ranieri has made sure we’re in a strong position.
I was slightly surprised when I saw that Mahrez was starting on the bench – Ranieri is perhaps pacing him to ensure a full impact later in the season? But there’s no doubt that when he gets on the pitch he makes a real difference and with his touch and Vardy’s pace we’re hard to stop once we get up a head of steam.
In fact that’s the only problem I can see at the moment, and I take nothing away from what the team have achieved so far this season, but too often we’re leaving things until the second half and relying on our ability to make a comeback in the latter stages of the game. It’s a dangerous way to play and we can’t get away with that forever, but I imagine the whole squad are concentrating on that first half performance as we search for that elusive first clean sheet. Every game is tough in the Premier League but if we can get that balance right, I really believe we could be unstoppable.
This weekend we’ll welcome Crystal Palace to the King Power Stadium and this one will be a tough game for sure. Palace are performing well this season and they’ve caused a few shocks too, particularly away from home. We will need to work hard but it’s an excellent opportunity to grab three points and I think it will be a great game to watch as both teams are fighting hard for their spots in the upper reaches the table. Mathematically at least, a win against Palace could take us back into the top three again although fifth place is such an achievement at this time of year that I’m pretty happy already!
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