Eric Bailly v Jamie Vardy: Who will win the key battle when Manchester United host Leicester?
By Paul Harrison
Last Updated: 24/09/16 12:28pm
Eric Bailly faces Jamie Vardy at Old Trafford on Saturday. We check the stats to see whether the Man Utd man or Leicester striker will come out on top...
After a promising start to his career at the heart of Manchester United's defence, Bailly's last two Premier League outings will have left the £30m Ivorian under no illusions as to the attacking quality he will be facing on a regular basis this season.
Jamie Vardy, the spearhead of the last season's champions' attack, will undoubtedly pose as big a threat as any Bailly has faced so far in his fleeting Premier League career. Both players are in just their third season playing top flight football, although Vardy is seven years Bailly's senior.
The proverbial footballing microscope will be cast over Leicester's number nine to see if he can come close to repeating his achievements of last season. Having scored five goals in 34 Premier League appearances in 2014/15 (his debut top flight season), his 24 goals last time out was bettered only by Tottenham's Harry Kane.
Jamie Vardy in 2015/16 Premier League
|Stat||Vardy total||Leicester rank|
The prolific nature of Vardy's meteoric rise to prominence since the start of last season is all the more commendable when you consider Leicester's tactical approach - they had the third lowest average possession last season (42.43 per cent), and in their two Premier League games this season against potential title challengers, Arsenal and Liverpool, they have had 39.5 per cent and 37.9 per cent possession respectively.
Vardy made the most of his opportunities last season, and only Man City prodigy Kelechi Iheanacho has a better conversion rate in the Premier League of all the players who have reached double figures over the past 14 months.
Premier League conversion rate since August 2015 (+10 goals)
|Kelechi Iheanacho||Man City||10||28.57%|
|Sergio Aguero||Man City||27||20.15%|
|Georginio Wijnaldum||Newcastle & Liverpool||11 goals||18.03%|
The England striker's pace getting in behind defences has been the catalyst of Leicester's counter-attacking success under Claudio Ranieri; and it comes as no surprise that only once under the Italian has Vardy found the back of a Premier League net from outside of the area, as well as winning more than twice as many penalties as any other Premier League player since the start of Ranieri's tenure.
Premier League goals from inside box since August 2015
|Sergio Aguero||Man City||22|
Vardy once again showcased his talents for drawing fouls in the opposition box in the Champions League at Club Brugge, and it is something Bailly will have to contend with on Saturday lunchtime.
The former Villarreal man earned the man of the match award in both the Community Shield and his Premier League debut at Bournemouth, though he has found the last two games a more challenging proposition with his involvement for both goals conceded in the Manchester derby, as well as Watford's third last weekend drawing some criticism.
The decline in performance could be deemed a collective effort, rather than down to the individual.
Manchester United's drop off
|Stat||First 3 PL games||Last 2 PL games|
|Shots faced per game||10||14|
|Shots faced on target per game||2||5.5|
Bailly only turned 22 towards the end of the last season, in what was his inaugural campaign as a bonafide regular following his move to the Yellow Submarine during the 2015 January transfer window as a replacement for Arsenal-bound Gabriel.
Bailly was a mainstay when fit, as Villarreal claimed their first top-four finish in five years, conceding just 35 goals in the process, a club record.
Having played every minute in the opening seven games in all competitions (the only United outfield player to do so), Bailly clearly has the faith of Jose Mourinho to fulfil his hefty summer transfer fee.
But the Jamie Vardy story still has some legs in it, and he will feel confident of adding to his three goals in four career appearances against a United side in transition.
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