Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has thrown his support behind Jamie Vardy amid the striker’s struggles to find the net in recent weeks, comparing his frontman to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino in how his movement helps to create chances for others in the side.
The 33-year-old has established himself as one of the most feared forwards of the current Premier League era, but while he sits level at the top of the scoring charts with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, he has failed to register in his last nine matches across all competitions.
He does, however, boast a better accuracy rate that the Gabon man, with 65 per cent to Aubameyang’s 57% for shots on target – and has four assists to the Arsenal forward’s one.
And while the goals may have dried up of late, Rodgers has pointed to the other attributes the former England international brings to the Foxes’ game, creating space for others within the team using his pace and clever positional skills and backed his man to start firing again soon.
“I have no doubt he’ll get the goals and it’s a matter of time before he gets back to scoring again,” Rodgers told reporters. “Sometimes you get a run like it. You don’t force it, you don’t put pressure on, he knows that’s his job.
“If you’re needing 65 goals to get where you want to be, then it’s no good having a striker with 40 when the others can’t contribute – it’s a team responsibility.
“Look at Roberto Firmino at Liverpool – he’s scored 10, but look at his influence and what he gives and allows the other players [to do].
“With Jamie, when he’s not scoring he’s creating space for others. It’s the responsibility of everyone – full-backs, centre-halves, midfielders, front players, and the guys coming off the bench, too, to contribute.”
Alongside Vardy, two other veterans in the Leicester squad in Christian Fuchs and Wes Morgan are approaching the latter part of their respective careers, but Rodgers is more than keen to keep the experienced pair around the squad for the foreseeable, confirming that talks over contract extensions are ongoing with the 2015-16 Premier League winners.
“Both players have been immense for me,” the Northern Irishman said. “It’s not just on the pitch, it’s their qualities off the pitch that are very important. It’s so important to have senior players to drive the standard and both of those guys have been first-class for that.
“Negotiations with them are ongoing and we’ll see where it takes us.”