Double Trouble wreaking havoc at the King Pro
History is littered with famous double acts, beginning with Adam and Eve, moving swiftly through Romulus and Remus, Samson and Delilah and Robin Hood and Little John, before encompassing, more recently, Lennon and McCartney as well as Laurel and Hardy. However, in the 2015-16 Premier League, it is the similarly named Mahrez and Vardy who are proving anything but comical to defences up and down the land as they spearhead Leicester City’s unlikely assault on the Premier League title.
The numbers alone make avid reading and suitably justify this particular double act’s claim on players of the season thus far. In goal-scoring terms, Jamie Vardy leads the way with 18 goals from 25 games – by far his best return as a Premier League player, albeit in only his second season in the top flight (lest we forget, Vardy was playing non-league football as recently as five years ago). Indeed, Vardy’s impressive record accounts for 38% of the goals scored by his team thus far – a return only bettered by Watford’s Odion Ighalo, whose 14 goals represents a staggering 58% of his team’s total. Yet to cite Leicester as a one-man team in terms of goals would be of great disservice to Riyad Mahrez, whose 14 goals not only see him in joint-fourth in the Barclay’s Premier League goal-scoring list (level with Sergio Aguero), but also representing a further 30% of his team’s total goals so far. For those non-mathematically-minded individuals, 68% of the league leaders’ goals have been contributed by this fearsome duo. Leicester are also the join-highest scorers in the Premier League, with 47.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil is the undisputed Premier League assist king, having racked up a frankly outrageous 16 in his 23 games to date, but sitting second in that particular list is also Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez, thus bringing his total goals/assists contribution to a league-high 24. Interestingly, five of Mahrez’s assists have been in setting up goals for his recently-internationally capped teammate, Vardy, proving once more what a sensational combination they have been. Indeed, only three players have set up more goals for a single teammate in the league thus far. Vardy himself has contributed 3 assists to the cause, ensuring his goal/assist total of 21 is only bettered by his teammate. At this stage it would be remiss not to mention that fact that Leicester City players Marc Albrighton and Danny Drinkwater have also contributed five assists to an individual teammate, Mahrez being the beneficiary of Albrighton’s generosity, while Vardy has had the same number served up by Drinkwater. It certainly has been a team effort to get the Foxes to the summit.
In terms of Whoscored.com’s comprehensive player rating system, taking into account a myriad of stats now available on player performance, Mahrez, who only joined Leicester City from Le Havre in January 2014 for an frankly unbelievable fee reported to be of around £400,000, is unrivalled in Premier League terms this season – his score of 7.96 not only ensuring his ascendency in the domestic competition, but placing him seventh in all five of the major European leagues. To put that into context, Barcelona’s goal-scoring sensation Luis Suarez sits a further place behind, while Cristiano Ronaldo can only manage 16th. Jamie Vardy is fifth in the Premier League list, ensuring Leicester are the only team to boast two players in the top five. For the record, Barca’s Neymar and Lionel Messi, as well as Paris Saint Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic currently stand as Europe’s highest rated players.
Should Claudio Ranieri’s side do the unthinkable and claim their first Premier League crown, just a year after being rooted to the bottom of the table, then those looking for candidates for the coveted Footballer of the Year award need look no further than the King Power stadium. And although it would be a disservice to dismiss the contribution of the rest of the Foxes’ heroes this season, a joint-award for this fearsome double act may well be the only satisfactory outcome. There is a new deadly duo in town, and at this precise moment in time, they are sweeping all before them.
To finish as Premier League top goalscorer
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – 3.25
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – 3.50
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) – 4.50
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – 4.50
Odion Ighalo (Watford) – 21.00
By: Steven Paget