English Premier League Sport

Why Arsenal should fear Vardy

Leicester City will be looking to Jamie Vardy to continue his strong goalscoring record against the top-six Premier League clubs when they face Arsenal at the Emirates on Monday Night Football.

Vardy, who has managed three goals from five appearances this season, proved to be a nuisance against the top six last term, scoring 11 times against them in the Premier League.

Leicester have been on the receiving end of narrow 2-1 defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool so far this season and they will be hoping that Vardy can help reverse their fortunes against the top-six clubs on Monday night.

The intense battle between Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane for the Premier League Golden Boot meant Vardy’s impressive exploits for ninth-placed Leicester went under the radar last season.

Only Salah, Kane and Sergio Aguero scored more times in the league than Leicester’s No 9, who reached the 20-goal mark – his second-best total in the division behind the 24 goals he scored when Leicester won the league in 2015-16.

Interestingly, Vardy’s 20 league goals last season came against teams with an average final position of eighth – comfortably the best average of any player who hit double figures. Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen was the next-best on the list, although the Dane scored only ten times.

By comparison, Salah’s 32 goals came against sides with an average position of 11.3, and Kane’s 30 came against teams with an average league finish of 11.7.

Vardy also made Premier League history by becoming the first player to score against the top-six clubs in the same season – netting against Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.

The only other player to manage more than four goals against the top six was the Golden Boot-winner Salah – the Egyptian managed seven goals in those head to heads. In fact, Salah spread his goals around, only failing to score past runners-up Manchester United and relegated Swansea.

In all, the top six conceded a total of 127 goals against the teams that finished seventh or lower. Vardy accounted for just over one in every 11 of those goals.

It is not just in front of goal that Vardy has punished the big clubs either. Since his Premier League debut – incidentally against Arsenal in August 2014 – Vardy has had a hand in 34 goals in 46 Premier League appearances against top-six opponents (27 goals, seven assists).

Arsenal will be particularly wary of facing Vardy as he scored twice against them in the corresponding fixture at the Emirates last season – the opening game of the campaign which Arsenal eventually won 4-3 – and he was also on the scoresheet when Leicester beat Arsenal 3-1 at the King Power in May.

Overall, Vardy has scored six goals against Arsenal in seven Premier League games, netting against them three times last season and three times in 2015-16.

Vardy should also be fresher for Monday’s meeting having played no part in England’s Nations League matches over the past fortnight, following his retirement from international duty in August.

Explaining his decision to step aside from international duty, Vardy said: “If you’re playing week in, week out for your club, you want to be going to England to play as well.

“And if it’s not happening, then for me personally now, at this age, it’s better to be at home, spending that time with my family and training with my club, preparing for the next game after the international break.”

He will also fancy his chances of adding to his record against Arsenal, considering they have conceded 10 goals and kept only two clean sheets in eight Premier League games this season.

Vardy has scored in his only game against one of last season’s top six, netting a consolation in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in August, while he was absent through injury in the loss to Liverpool by the same scoreline.

With Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also among the goals for Arsenal in the opening weeks of the campaign, the battle of the strikers will provide an intriguing sub-plot to Monday’s meeting in north London.

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