Watford-Leicester City Preview
It's now November, and Leicester City are still lurking around the top of the table.
The Foxes look to strengthen their hold on that lofty status Saturday when they host Watford at King Power Stadium.
One of only two sides in the Premier League with one loss - Tottenham Hotspur are the other - Leicester City (6-4-1) enter this weekend third in the table, trailing only co-leaders Manchester City and Arsenal by three points. The end-to-end action, which marks the Foxes' frenetic play befitting their nickname, continued last Saturday when they rallied to a 3-2 victory at West Bromwich Albion.
Riyad Mahrez had a brace in a seven-minute space of the second half to overturn a 1-0 deficit before Jamie Vardy ran his goal-scoring streak to eight matches - joining Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Daniel Sturridge as the only Premier League players with such a lengthy run - in the 77th minute. The Foxes then withstood a nervy finish after conceding a penalty to run their unbeaten streak to four matches (3-1-0).
"He's on absolute fire," teammate Marc Albrighton told Foxes Player HD about Vardy, who leads the top flight with 11 goals in 11 matches. "There's no stopping him. He's in the form of his life and he keeps banging them in for us then we're delighted."
Van Nistelrooy holds the record with a 10-match streak that bridged the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, but Vardy can become the first Premier League player ever to score in nine straight in the same season.
Causing their fans endless anxiety is nothing new for Leicester City, who have yet to be shut out and turned in only one clean sheet while outscoring opponents 23-19. They lead the Premier League with 10 points from matches in which they've trailed this season, including five when falling behind by two goals. Last season, the Foxes had a league-high four points when dropping two goals down.
As each passing match gives Leicester more and more credibility while staying in the title hunt, manager Claudio Ranieri is trying to embrace the challenge of getting his players to simply focus on their next opponent rather than the table.
"I have a seven-day memory. I'm only looking to next Saturday," the Italian manager known as "The Tinkerman" said. "For me, it's important we continue to work hard and to continue to put into the players' minds this kind of atmosphere, this feeling, this kind of job."
Watford (4-4-3) are making a name for themselves as well this season, as the promoted Hornets have fought their way to mid-table in opposite fashion than the Foxes given the paucity of goals both scored and conceded at 10 each. Watford, though, have ridden Odion Ighalo to consecutive victories as the Nigerian forward had a pair of assists in a 2-0 victory at Stoke City before bagging a brace around halftime last Saturday in the Hornets' 2-0 triumph over West Ham United.
Despite being new to the top flight, manager Quique Sanchez Flores noted the team's continuity after promotion from the Championship has played a vital role in Watford's bid to keep their Premier League status.
"Seven of the players in the starting XI were here last year," he told watfordfc.com. "This year, they are really important. This is the spirit; it is carrying from last year and we are trying to add to this all the time."
Ighalo has seven goals, trailing only Vardy in the Premier League, including three match-winners. The Hornets, who have never won consecutive road matches in the Premier League in their club history, have eight road points this season after totaling 15 in their previous two Premier League campaigns in 1999-2000 and 2006-07.
This is the first Premier League meeting between the teams since the 1999-2000 season, when the Foxes took four points from the two matches and won at home. The teams last met in the Championship in 2013-14, when Leicester also took four points.