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Why Jamie Vardy hardly touches the ball but still is the most vital man of Brendan Rodger's tactics?

An interesting aspect of Vardy's continuous goal scoring form at the age of 32 is that he hardly ever touches the ball - still he still finds the back of the net more often than the last four years

Saikat Banerjee
Last updated: 28.09.2019
Why Jamie Vardy hardly touches the ball but still is the most vital man of Brendan Rodger's tactics? | Sports Social Blog

In 2014/15, Jamie Vardy netted five goals in 34 Premier League appearances. No one might have foretold Leicester's title win the subsequent year or that Vardy would become one in all the division's most clinical strikers, smashing 24 goals in 36 matches that season.

This season, Vardy averages only 20 touches of the ball per game while his teammate James Maddison has 67.5 touches per game. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang averages 39 touches per game but could be an example of a similar form of player, often found lurking off the shoulder of the last man and infrequently seen linking play anywhere near the midfield, but even then he has shown more touches than Vardy. However, despite having no direct impact in Leicester's passing, Vardy is completely integral to the team.



Brendan Rodgers plays 4-1-4-1 which is entirely possession focused, a structured shape that defends as a 4-5-1 and attacks with four interchangeable forwards behind a striker, supported by the full-backs.

The job of Vardy is to stretch the opposition defence and make depth, standing as far up the pitch as he can get to create distance between defence and attack. Afraid of Vardy's pace, defenders need to drop deeper than they may prefer to guarantee they aren't beaten in a race and this provides Leicester with an out-ball over the top, something which took place in their opening goal in the 3-1 win over Bournemouth. After managing to defend from a spell of heavy Bournemouth pressure and with Leicester transitioning back to their 4-1-4-1 shape Ben Chilwell looks for a forward option rather than slow build-up near his own box. Vardy had already started a run beyond the centre-backs, who were left isolated due to Bournemouth players were busy attacking in the earlier move. Neither of the defenders was quick enough to catch Vardy, who spotted Aaron Ramsdale off his line and lifted a superb first time volleyed lob over the goalkeeper's head. Besides that with an aggregate of 54.82 per cent possession, it's usually Leicester who controls the ball and Vardy's altruistic movement makes all the difference.


Leicester's four central attacking midfielders Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez work in space between lines of opposition defenders. Vardy pushes the centre-backs even deeper to increase the distance between them and their midfielders, thus generating more space to operate to allow the likes of Maddison and Tielemans room to create. Vardy maintains his position high up the pitch. If he becomes frustrated and starts searching for the ball in midfield, Leicester's shape would lack sharpness and lack the position required to open up areas for others. Maddison who works as a perfect chance creator in the midfield helps Vardy to make runs off. Maddison has created 11 chances this season till now and one of the most creative players in the premier league this season.



Vardy's diagonal runs between centre-backs make an offside trap difficult to execute though and this forces one defender to drop slightly deeper behind his partner to track him. Vardy's presence, speed and cunning create space for others.

Leicester’s average possession is 54.8 per cent since Rodger took over and made them play more passes too (507 per game), but has made the side far more dangerous in the attack by making the pitch wider.

Leicester's defence is also the key behind his success as without adequate cover, Rodgers' players could not afford to open and play this expansive style of football, which is common to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City than Claudio Ranieri's title-winning Leicester.

Ranieri took advantage of struggling top four in 2015-16 season to pull off Leicester's miracle title win. A similar situation is happening this season with Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal are not the same beasts as they were in previous years and there are third just below Manchester City and Liverpool but can certainly steal their positions as nothing is impossible in football. On current form they totally deserve and capable of grabbing a Champions League spot, having one of the best midfielders in the league and having a clear on-pitch style that is enough to give results. Everyone has their own role to play and Vardy, despite hardly ever seeing the ball, is one of the most important players in Brendan Rodgers tactics.

 

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