Leicester City ran out comfortable 4-1 winners against Aston Villa and broke a club record in the process.
Never before had the Foxes registered eight consecutive top-flight wins, Dean Smith’s men stood in the way of history, but this particular challenge proved too much for the hosts.
The result, and such a run, leaves Brendan Rodgers still eight points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool but six points ahead of champions Manchester City in third.
As for Villa, it’s another loss, but due to a handy goal-difference they remain just outside the relegation zone.
Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are today’s.
Winner: Jamie Vardy
It’s hard to imagine Jamie Vardy ever topping what he achieved during Leicester’s incredible championship-winning season from a few years back. But here we are. The former England international, who holds the record for scoring in the most consecutive Premier League games (11), has now scored in an eighth straight game with today’s brace taking his overall tally for this season to 16 goals across 16 league outings.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 8, 2019
The sheer ruthlessness on display has in some ways been the product of Brendan Rodgers’ man-management. Aside from his scoring touch, Vardy is renowned for hustling defenders and chasing lost causes, but Rodgers has reduced his defensive workload so he’s no longer pressing the whole back four, instead he’s doing short bursts whilst relying on his teammates to create opportunities for him which is clearly paying dividends.
Loser: Tyrone Mings
No one likes to see a player getting injured especially ahead of the Christmas fixtures, but the unfortunate setback which Tyrone Mings suffered undoubtedly played a key role in Leicester breaking the deadlock. Just before the 20 minute mark he’d pull up, feeling the back of his leg, after passing the ball to goalkeeper Tom Heaton it was obvious he was injured – to Villa’s defence they were preparing to sub him off – however by remaining on the field, Mings now stationed a little deeper kept Vardy onside, and he didn’t need a second invitation to register yet another goal on the road.
Winner: Jack Grealish
We're back underway…
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 8, 2019
There’s a semblance of sense to make your most influential player the captain. It was a no-brainer for Dean Smith to hand Jack Grealish the armband. He’s thrived in the role and has now scored twice across his last three Premier League outings. Grealish, as he’s often done before, won the free-kick that led to Villa getting themselves back into this match.
Heading into half-time interval staring at a 2-0 deficit, the wide-forward drew Foxes right-back Ricardo Pereira into bringing him down, the following set-piece led to a corner which kept the hosts camped in Leicester’s half and from that pinball Grealish delightfully whipped the ball – via a wicked defection – past Kasper Schmeichel.
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Loser: Anwar El Ghazi
Either side could/should have easily gone in front before Vardy broke the deadlock. Jonny Evans, who did eventually get on the scoresheet, nodded the ball into Tom Heaton’s grateful hands before the defining moment of the game.
After some neat build-up play, which naturally involved Grealish, the overlapping full-back Matt Targett saw his ball across find (a seemingly unexpecting) Anwar El Ghazi whose first time shot from close range subsequently bounced off the crossbar. It was a horrendous miss that had grave consequences.
Winner: Kelechi Iheanacho
Kelechi Iheanacho had to bide his time this season having made his first Premier League appearance on matchday 14 when he came off the bench to register a last minute winner against Everton that only earned him a sixth outing as an unused substitute at home to Watford but with games coming thick and fast Rodgers gave him a first league start in exactly a year.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 8, 2019
And the Nigerian international repaid his manager’s faith. Not only did he get his name on the scoreboard, Iheanacho created no fewer than four chances, one less than James Maddison. He also maintained a 100% passing accuracy, completing each one of his 21 passes, but it was his application that no doubt impressed Rodgers’ who knows he now has a squad to fight, whether for another unlikely championship or top four place.