Leicester’s Champions League bid given timely boost with West Brom win

    Leicester fans would be forgiven for still being haunted by the nightmare of their side’s top four collapse last season.

    Brendan Rodgers’ men looked nailed on to secure their place in the Champions League and looked the most likely contenders to rival Liverpool for the Premier League crown at one point, though a number of key injuries and suspensions at the back end of the campaign saw them fall apart.

    A final day defeat to Manchester United ensured they would be playing in the Europa League this season rather than the Champions League, though having strengthened in the summer transfer window they looked good value to improve on their fifth place finish this season.

    The Leicester squad were all smiles against West Brom
    The Leicester squad were all smiles against West Brom | Michael Regan/Getty Images

    And then the wheels started falling off again.

    Back-to-back Premier League defeats – including a hugely damaging loss to fellow top four chasers West Ham – threatened to completely derail their campaign, so what better time for Jamie Vardy to remind everyone just what he can do?

    The former England international looked back to the Vardy of old against West Brom on Thursday night, opening the scoring with a typically clinical finish to grab just his second goal in 15 Premier League games.

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    Not content with his work, the 34-year-old rolled back the years with a brilliant piece of wing play which left the Baggies backline utterly bamboozled, before laying it on a plate for strike partner Kelechi Iheanacho to all but end the game as a contest prior to the half-time interval.

    By the second half Vardy was taking potshots from his own half such was his confidence, though he wasn’t the only player clearly revelling in the Foxes’ renewed self-belief.

    James Maddison made his return to the squad after being reprimanded for breaking lockdown rules, and the former Norwich man looked like a player with a point to prove.

    Picking up little pockets of space in between the West Brom midfield and backline, Maddison absolutely ran riot and provided a link between Leicester’s midfield and attack that had sorely been missing in his absence.

    Vardy and Maddison weren’t the only star performers on the night with Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans all looking back to their best just when Leicester needed them most.

    Rodgers’ side ran out convincing 3-0 winners on the night, though in truth they’d long since taken their foot off the gas having raced into a three-goal lead with just 35 minutes on the clock.

    Jamie Vardy looks to find a way past Dara O'Shea
    Jamie Vardy looks to find a way past Dara O’Shea | Michael Regan/Getty Images

    While the three points is obviously the most important thing for Leicester to take away from the game as the season enters the home straight, the manner of their performance will probably have pleased Rodgers more than anything.

    Yes they were expected to overcome a West Brom side struggling at the bottom end of the league table, though with Sam Allardyce’s side scrapping for survival it could have proved a tricky assignment – just as Chelsea found out to their cost a few weeks ago.

    Leicester made light work of the clash, putting to bed any worries about possible mental fragility after last season’s collapse and ending their winless run.

    With just six games of the campaign to play the Foxes are now four points clear of fifth placed West Ham, and psychologically the win over the Baggies could prove to be a huge boost as they enter the home straight.

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