Canaries must find a way to disrupt Jamie Vardy’s party
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
The party has started all over again for Jamie Vardy, so how do Norwich City set about trying to thwart the Premier League’s rampant top scorer?
Just four of the 16 teams that the irrepressible 32-year-old has faced this season have been able to stop him from scoring, amid a sensational spell for Brendan Rodgers' side.
Liverpool have been the country's outstanding team, remaining unbeaten and with 15 wins from 16 matches to leave reigning champions Manchester City for dust - pushing an incredible 14 points clear of Pep Guardiola's expensively assembled superstars.
Yet somehow the Foxes have just about clung on to the Reds' coattails, sitting eight points behind in second place despite finishing ninth last season.
Only Manchester City (44) and Liverpool (40) have scored more than Leicester's goal haul of 39 - more than double the 17 Norwich have managed - and their brilliant defensive record of just 10 conceded is the best in the league.
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At the heart of the success remains star striker Vardy, seemingly benefitting from his decision to retire from international duty in August 2018 after seven goals and 26 caps, having largely played second fiddle to Harry Kane.
With a brilliant 16 goals to his name in the Premier League already, calls for Gareth Southgate to recall the former Fleetwood forward for Euro 2020 are growing stronger by the week.
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The Yorkshireman rose to fame during 2015-16 when he plundered an awesome 24 goals and eight assists in 36 games to fuel the fairytale title success which disrupted the established order of the world's most watched league.
That all came just five years after the former Sheffield Wednesday trainee had been firing Halifax to the Northern League Premier Division title at step three of the non-league pyramid.
Now he's chasing his 100th Premier League goal with Leicester - after rejecting the chance to join Arsenal following that 2016 triumph - with 96 from 192 matches to his name.
Yet it's under Rodgers that Vardy is on course for his most prolific campaign, with the Leicester boss talking recently about how he has asked his star striker to curb his enthusiasm and to resist the urge to spend so much of his energy closing down the opposition, as he attempts to defend from the front for his team.
Statistics highlighted by Sky Sports following Saturday's 4-1 win at Aston Villa - in which Vardy scored twice - illustrated that the prolific front man is spending far more time in the penalty area this season.
He averaged 29 touches of the ball per 90 minutes in the Premier League prior to former Liverpool boss Rodgers arriving from Celtic in February, which has dropped to 23 ever since.
Whereas touches in the opposition penalty box have risen from an average of 2.8 per 90 minutes before Rodgers, to 5.6 since the Northern Irishman's arrival, an increase in percentage from 10pc to 24pc.
The in-depth stats went on to show that Vardy is having significantly fewer touches in wide positions, that he is making fewer tackles and that he is winning possession less regularly - yet that streamlined approach is clearly paying dividends.
Leicester boss Rodgers explained: "If we ask him to press the back four or not, he will do it.
"We don't want him to run any more than anyone else but when he does, for it to be at speed.
"I've always felt when my teams have been against him that he is a real threat in that one (lone forward role) because he is aggressive on his press. Then when you have the ball the one thing you're frightened of as a defender is pace and this guy is as quick as I've seen over 10 yards, that explosive speed."
With the talent and work rate of midfielders behind him, including James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans, the Foxes' man in the box is getting the chances he needs to thrive upon. So much so that he is chasing his own Premier League record.
During that wonderful 2015-16 season Vardy set a record of scoring in 11 consecutive games and at the weekend he drew level with former Manchester United star Ruud van Nistelrooy as the only players to twice manage scoring in eight successive games.
Those positional tweaks to Vardy's role have brought a goal for every 2.6 shots on average, scoring 16 from 41 attempts. The Canaries' own highly rated striker Teemu Pukki, in comparison, has scored eight from 43 shots for an average of every 5.4 shots.
So, how can Daniel Farke's team stop the Leicester juggernaut as it attempts to secure a ninth win on the spin? It goes without saying that doing everything they can to stop Vardy from getting a sight of goal is absolutely crucial, with his pace and tenacity on show yet again as he was able to get in behind the Villa defence for both of his goals on Saturday.
With City slipping to back-to-back defeats and only Southampton having conceded more than their 34 goals, it seems highly likely that a three-man defence will be considered for this tough away game.
Keep scrolling back through Vardy's goals and that lightning pace to get away from defenders is clear. Three of his 16 goals may have been penalties but the touch and lethal finishing ability of a man with confidence in full flow is so obvious - just ask Angus Gunn about last month's astonishing 9-0 defeat for Southampton, during which the Foxes star scored a hat-trick.
Stopping Vardy is far from the only threat Norwich have to worry about but finding a way to keep him quiet should certainly go a long way in the search for a shock result against Rodgers' in-form team.