Jamie Vardy is the man now, and Leicester City spent last week as the Premier League team of the moment.
Vardy set a Premier League record Saturday by scoring in his 11th consecutive game in the current version of England’s top flight. His goal helped Leicester City earn a 1-1 draw against Manchester United and maintain its one-point lead over the third-placed Red Devils in the Premier League standings.
Ruud van Nistelrooy, the former Manchester United great whom Vardy surpassed, led the worldwide chorus of congratulations.
Vardy will set English soccer’s all-time record if he scores in his next two games. Jimmy Dunne set the mark in 1931-32 with Sheffield United.
The significance of Vardy’s streak extends beyond the Premier League’s record books. His story of an improbable rise from non-league (or semi-professional) soccer to the top of the English game’s goal-scorers ranks in four-plus years is the stuff of dreamers, artists and romantics — everything Vardy is not.
Vardy has come this far through the forces of his own talent, determination and self-belief. Leicester City, the team that plucked him from Fleetwood Town in 2012, is reaping the rewards of the chance it took on the previously unheralded Vardy.
Premier League survival remains Leicester City’s primary goal for 2015-16, and it needs around 12 points from its next 24 games to hit that mark. Claudio Ranieri has masterminded Leicester City’s rise by moving Vardy from the wing to the center and tailoring his team’s attack around his fast, confident and free-scoring striker.
Regardless of what happens this weekend and beyond, Vardy and Leicester City have ensured their place among the season’s top stories. They also have breathed new life into a league with which some had grown frustrated over its lack of diversity of players and clubs in its top tier.
Saturday, Nov. 28
Aston Villa 2 – 3 Watford
The Villans have spent much of the season in last place, but they’re officially at rock bottom. Relegation appears to be a foregone conclusion for Aston Villa, as new manager Remi Garde couldn’t stop its tailspin in his first month in charge.
Sunderland 2 – 0 Stoke City
Sam Allardyce has lifted the Black Cats out of the relegation zone.
Manchester City 3 – 1 Southampton
Manchester City re-takes the league lead with the win.
Crystal Palace 5 – 1 Newcastle
Alan Pardew inflicted revenge on the team he left on Jan. 2 and cast the Magpies deeper into crisis.
Bournemouth 3 – 3 Everton
Some Everton fans stormed the field in celebration of Ross Barkley’s late goal, but the Cherries killed their joy and saved a point on Junior Stanislas’ late header.
Leicester City 1 – 1 Manchester United
Bastian Schweinsteiger’s first Premier League goal earned the Red Devils a point in a game that delivered on Vardy’s promise but failed to captivate neutrals.
Sunday, Nov. 29
Tottenham 0 – 0 Chelsea
Chelsea kept Harry Kane off the scoreboard and earned its first league draw since Sept. 26. But the Blues remain much closer to the relegation zone than the four Champions League places.
West Ham 1 – 1 West Brom
Norwich City 1 – 1 Arsenal
Arsenal fell to fourth place after concluding a month to forget with a stalemate.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@premierleague