Leicester City supporters have been extremely buoyant in recent times after seeing their side record a seventh Premier League victory of the season on Saturday.
Claude Puel’s men went into their encounter with Champions League-chasing Chelsea off the back of successive league defeats against Crystal Palace and Tottenham, alongside a Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Manchester City on Tuesday night. Yet the Foxes got back to winning ways in impressive fashion in edging past Maurizio Sarri’s Blues 1-0 on Saturday, with Jamie Vardy getting the winner to move the Midlands outfit up to ninth place in the Premier League table.
As such, there have been many delighted Leicester fans up and down the country in recent times, plenty of whom are likely to be singing the praises of striker Vardy for returning to the side and producing a vintage performance in West London.
The former England international missed out against City in midweek but prior to that had scored in two of his previous three league matches, and he again produced the goods going forward for Puel’s side with a classy finish following James Maddison’s through-ball.
And while the striker certainly looked near his best form at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, it was the man who started that move for the goal, Ricardo Pereira, who was the man behind Leicester’s great win in West London.
The 25-year-old made the move to the King Power Stadium during the summer as Puel sought a replacement for Danny Simpson at right back, and the defender has so far proven to be an excellent addition with appearances in all but three of their 18 Premier League games, in which time he has netted once and laid on two assists.
And the Portugal international was again magnificent on Saturday in helping the Foxes not only cause problems going forward, but also defend resolutely to protect their lead.
Pereira had an astonishing 74 touches of the ball over the course of the 90 minutes, some ten more than the next highest Leicester player Ben Chilwell (as per WhoScored), while his 70% pass success rate also helped in trying to get the visitors up the pitch, with one of those passes proving vital in finding Maddison, who in turn found Vardy to give Puel’s men the lead.
Yet it was also defensively in which Pereira really excelled to help the Foxes earn just their second clean sheet of December, winning both of the aerial duels he contested during the match, and indeed completing a team-high six tackles to help negate the threat posed by Chelsea down their left-hand-side.
Add in a team-high five interceptions, and indeed a team-high 11 clearances, and it’s clear that the Portuguese ace read danger extremely well to help relieve pressure on the Leicester backline – quite simply, he was outstanding.
So while Vardy will invariably get the plaudits for a well-taken goal which proved to be the winner at Stamford Bridge, £18 million-rated Pereira (as per Transfermarkt) was ultimately the man behind Leicester’s superb victory against Chelsea on Saturday.
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