It was yet another test for buoyant Leicester City who hosted Arsenal in a Saturday, November 9 late kick-off at the King Power Stadium.
It’s been so obvious that something is brewing at Leicester City again; nope, it’s not going to be a repeat of their historic Premier League title win of 2016, but the Brendan Rodgers men have shown top four credentials so far this season.
Their visitors on Saturday were Arsenal who despite their troubles so far, are still expected to be in the mix for a top-four finish. So this was a match up Leicester City were looking to show that they mean business.
And they handled business. Two second-half goals, from Jamie Vardy and James Madison, were enough to keep the Foxes barking.
While Vardy was named Man of the Match for his goal and assist, an honourable mention should be for Wilfred Ndidi.
Since his move to the Premier League in January 2017, Ndidi has consistently put in performances that got him recognised as one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe. On Saturday, he delivered another of such performance, dominating the middle of the park as Leicester City contained Arsenal.
Playing in the defensive midfield position, Ndidi shielded his defence properly and handled the likes of Mesut Ozil, Mattéo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira very well.
Having attack-minded Maddison and Youri Tielemans as his midfield partners saddled Ndidi with the defensive duties in the middle. And he did very well to stop Arsenal attacking from the middle. That was Leicester City’s strongest resolve.
Without width, Arsenal’s game plan was to attack narrowly, isolate Ndidi in the middle and pick out their frontmen Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang. Arsenal fell flat on their faces as Ndidi proved to be a block in midfield.
He was everywhere, hassling, tackling, intercepting as Leicester City dominated Arsenal. He made seven tackles, the most in the game, recovered the ball five times, the most in the game again, made three interceptions, won three aerials contests, managed two clearances. It was a stellar defensive performance from the Super Eagles star but it didn't end there.
Offensively, he was an asset, managing 100% accuracy with his passes in the final third. He hit the woodwork early in the second half. He should have put Leicester City in the lead with the side-footed effort from inside the box from a cross from Ricardo Pereira.
He was tenacious again to win the ball in midfield to start the move that led to Leicester City’s second goal of the game.
Ndidi was quick to a loss ball close to the centre-circle, dribbled past Aubameyang and Guendouzi before slotting the ball to Pereira. Pereira found Vardy in the box, Vardy passed to Maddison who scored.
A goal from Leicester City that was made possible by Ndidi’s tenacity and it captured what the Nigerian brings to the team and why it often go noticed. He gets nothing from the goal when it’s interpreted by stats. Not the assists, not the pre-assist and not the goal.
This is why he is so often underrated. But everyone is watching and taking notes. It’s just a matter of when not if Ndidi will be regarded as the world-class midfielder he is.