Leicester City are still going pretty strong in the title-race and will face-off against Swansea with ongoing uncertainty over Jamie Vardy’s return from suspension. England striker Vardy has been ruled out of the Foxes’ next game due to his extremely controversial sending-off in the game against West Ham for two bookings.
However, Vardy could be banned for another game and according to reports, the disciplinary commission is not due to decide until next week. Vardy has until Thursday to respond after being charged with improper conduct by the FA.
The reason behind all the controversy was Vardy retaliating against referee Jon Moss after he was shown a red card in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Hammers. Leicester City has also been charged with failing to control their players by the FA after West Ham won an 83rd minute penalty. The fact that a further match suspension could be possible, means that he would miss Leicester’s trip to Manchester United on May 1.
Vardy’s suspension could spell trouble for Leicester City, especially as the race heats up after Spurs’ 4-0 win at Stoke cut the leaders’ advantage to five points.
It has indeed been a long time since the club had to contend with the prospect of a league game without their talisman, but next weekend against Swansea City – and probably at Manchester United the week after – they will have to do just that. Here are 4 possible solutions for Leicester City without Jamie Vardy:
1. Starting Leonardo Ulloa up front alongside Shinji Okazaki, could prove to be the right thing to do. Ulloa comes off the bench in almost every game, but he usually replaces Okazaki and partners Vardy. However, Jamie Vardy has turned into this man who is very difficult to replace, so those long passes up-field that have become the style of this Leicester team, would prove to be futile. Okazaki is tireless and far from slow, but lining up like this will need a change in their approach, and this would mean extra work down the flanks for Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez.
2. Some tweaks here and there, and Andy King can come in to play in a three-man midfield behind Okazaki. King is very dependable, but it would be a very different prospect for Leicester should he start. King is not used to playing higher up the pitch, meaning Okazaki will have to hold play up so that players like Mahrez can join attacks.
3. Vardy’s absence could mean a first Premier League start for Demarai Gray. He is a winger, and although he has minimal experience, he has proven to be very swift. He could play on the shoulder of the last man, and may just be able to relieve the defence of some pressure simply by carrying the ball up the pitch. A lot of youngsters have been under pressure this season, and proven to be formidable. Marcus Rashford can attest to this. Thus, this could be Gray’s big chance.
4. Jeff Schlupp has been very consistent, and another option would be to put him on the left, with Marc Albrighton moving to the right flank and Mahrez shifting behind the striker. Lining up like this before has proven to be successful, as they have beaten Crystal Palace 1-0 and Watford 2-1. Although the one missing piece was that Vardy was the lone striker on both occasions.
It is difficult to imagine Leicester City without Jamie Vardy, and it will be interesting to watch how they carry forward without him. This will be a crucial time for Leicester City, because now they can break free of the conception that they are successful only because of Vardy. However, it will also prove if at there is any truth behind that claim.