Everyone expected a clash between a league-leading side and a relegation struggler, when the clash between Leicester City and Chelsea FC was scheduled for December 12th. However, what nobody would have envisaged is the fact that the tables would have been turned in just 16 matches.
While Chelsea FC are just one point above the relegation zone, Leicester City are one point off the top of the Premier League table.
This story even permeates down to the individual level, at least with the two main strikers of the two sides — Diego Costa and Jamie Vardy. While the latter has exceeded all the expectations, the former has been nothing but awful in his second season in the English top flight.
Each striker has in fact painted a story that was expected of the other one. While Vardy has scored 14 goals from 15 Premier League appearances, Costa has managed only three goals from 12. The tables have turned drastically for both these strikers and their teams.
Strikers pulling their teams ahead or back
Contrary to other seasons, Chelsea FC have kept quite a lot of possession of the ball this season. However, the main problem with this is the fact that they don’t seem to have done much with all that possession, giving rise to that question again, of whether possession is really that important. Manchester United have also been testament to that fact.
To emphacise the point, let’s take a look at Leicester City. With an average of 44 per cent possession this season, they have scored almost double the number of goals. In fact, Chelsea FC completed more dribbles, drawn more fouls, and taken almost as many shots as Leicester this season. So what’s stopping the Blues from scoring the goals? Simple — Diego Costa!
But this is the same striker who took the Premier League by storm last season, netting 20 times in the league alone. So where’s Costa going wrong? Simple — up front — literally!
The fact is that Diego Costa has just not been making the number of runs that is required from a top Premier League striker like him. In fact, he has not even been getting into the proper positions to take the shots on goal. Vardy on the other hand, has been the model for how a striker should take the runs in order to get behind the defence and score the goals.
In fact Vardy has taken more than double the number of shots than Costa, from inside the penalty area, which just goes to show how much the Spain international has been lacking in his positioning this season. In spite of Chelsea FC having all that possession, Costa has not been able to get inside the area as many times as Vardy.
As the law of average goes, if you take more chances — you’ll get more goals.
The aerial supremacy
This is one area where Chelsea FC is expected to excel over most other Premier League clubs (except perhaps against Stoke City). Also many may argue that the reason why Diego Costa does not seem to be making so many runs behind the defenders is because he is big, strong and can win the aerial duels.
That theory too seems to be a myth this season. Jamie Vardy has managed to score two Premier League goals with headers this season. Not that many when compared to some other strikers, but still, those headers have added to his tally.
On the flip side, Diego Costa has not used his head to score a single goal this season. And this holds true for all competitions.
That however is a personal stat. Let’s move on to something that contributes more to the game play of the team. While Diego Costa has won 14 aerial duels in the Premier League so far, Vardy has managed to win a staggering 45. No more the big and strong striker is he?
Lack of commitment from Costa
This is something that we just cannot say about Jamie Vardy this season. The Leicester City forward had everything to prove, ever since Leicester City had signed him from non-league team Fleetwood Town for A?1 million. Even now, after breaking Manchester United and Real Madrid great Ruud van Nostelrooy’s record, Vardy still faces questions regarding the sustainability of his form.
Meanwhile, the questions hurled at Costa have more to do with his application on the field, which has clearly been lacking. 30 bad touches in 12 Premier League appearances and merely three interceptions all season does not make for good reading for a striker who is already under criticism for the lack of application.
In comparison, Vardy has made eight interceptions and had only 13 unlucky (read: bad) touches all season, and seems to be running up and down the pitch every game.
There is a bright side in this for the Chelsea FC fans. Costa’s performances could not have been worse and as the saying goes, “the darkest hour comes before dawn”. The Spaniard seems to have turned the corner, as he constantly got into good positions in Chelsea FC’s last match against FC Porto in the Champions League.
Even Costa himself believes that the happy days are but just round the corner, but it remains to be seen how long he takes to turn that corner. The Chelsea FC fans would certainly be hoping that he is able to find his goal scoring boots in the Leicester City match, and save this team the Monday blues.