James Maddison will be key if Leicester are to take Chelsea victory
James Maddison is a man who is attracting a lot of gossip right now, and not just for his impressive performances on the pitch.
After slipping behind the Southampton defense and smashing the house up close to put Leicester 1-0 against the Saints on Saturday, Maddison mocked the recent moral outrage surrounding the football celebrations by toasting his strike with several handshakes at social distance.
After the match he offered an explanation saying: “If little things like these are what we need to move football forward, so be it. We were told to stop gatherings of people and I tried to make it light. ” he told BT Sport (via Goal).
“Footballers, we have a lot of stick and it’s good to put a lighter note on it. I don’t think you will find a person in the country who wants football to stop. ”
It was refreshing to see a player speak so candidly in his post-match interview, and his honesty was recognized and praised on social media.
Under Maddison’s spell, albeit a mildly “guy vacation in Zante,” the demeanor, however, is a remarkable footballer who has quietly undergone such a transformation this season. If Leicester is to beat – and therefore be nine points ahead of – Chelsea on Tuesday night, he will likely be in the center of things.
The 24-year-old’s ability to create opportunities has always been well known. In the 2018/2019 season – which was his first for Leicester – no one in Europe, not even human cheat code Lionel Messi, created more chances than him and the last campaign he was just as impressive.
Despite his meager return from three assists, only Jack Grealish, Kevin De Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes averaged more shot-making actions every 90 minutes than he did in the previous Premier League tenure.
The reasons for Maddison’s high number of incidental creations are clear if you’ve seen him play before. Not only is he one of the Premier League’s best dead ball shooters, he’s also constantly looking to fill pockets of space between the lines, before attempting to slip a ball deep to Jamie Vardy.
Despite his obscene creative talent, one area where Maddison has been questioned is his purpose. In the tedious debate over attacking midfielders and forwards who should start for England, his lack of finishing ability is often cited as a reason Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Mason Mount and others are above him. hierarchical order.
Before this season it was a good point; returns of seven then six goals in his first two seasons of high flight does not call “elite striker”. This time, however, the tide seems to be turning. So far, in just 16 Premier League games, Maddison has already scored five goals. Some of them have been absolutely stunning as well, with his vicious strike against Manchester City standing out as the jewel in the crown, amid fierce competition from the pearl he has ringed against Brighton.
This increase in scores was facilitated by both a change to the Leicester system and a change in approach. First, the Foxes are now forming in most 3-4-2-1 games, which normally means Maddison and Harvey Barnes play behind Vardy. This role gives him a more relaxed defensive workload than the 4-1-4-1 used last season, meaning he can focus on things in the third offensive.
Second, Maddison has also added selfishness to his game this season. This is supported by statistics. While his 90-by-90-yard creation actions are down from the previous season, his progressive distance numbers have increased 14 yards by 90 from the previous campaign.
Nowhere was this change of style more evident than in his last goal against Southampton. The movement started with Youri Tielemans picking up the ball 30 meters from the goal. In previous seasons, Maddison would be likely to drift towards the ball, looking to take it with his back to goal, before trying to find Vardy.
This time however, he looked to run behind, ignoring Jack Stephens’ attentions before launching a shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
A lack of goalscorers other than Vardy has always been a problem for Leicester, but if Maddison can maintain that appetite for goals, that should soon cease to be a topic of discussion.
His new direct approach will be particularly important against Chelsea on Tuesday night. As the Blues’ defense lacks confidence, having won just once in their previous six Premier League games, before beating ten-man Fulham last time around, Maddison’s double threat and Vardy behind might prove too difficult for them.
If he scores again, one thing is for sure. The celebration is going to be memorable.