Football: Okazaki a better fit than Vardy for erratic Leicester

Claudio Yacob challenging Leicester's Shinji Okazaki for the ball in West Brom's 2-1 win at King Power Stadium on Sunday. Claudio Ranieri prefers to start with the Japanese international striker than Jamie Vardy in EPL games. Vardy replaced Islam Sli
Claudio Yacob challenging Leicester's Shinji Okazaki for the ball in West Brom's 2-1 win at King Power Stadium on Sunday. Claudio Ranieri prefers to start with the Japanese international striker than Jamie Vardy in EPL games. Vardy replaced Islam Slimani, who scored the hosts' equaliser, at half-time but made little impact.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri admits that Japanese international striker Shinji Okazaki is his preferred option for Premier League outings rather than Jamie Vardy.

The Englishman was left on the bench for the second successive league fixture on Sunday, as the champions were beaten 2-1 by West Bromwich Albion.

Okazaki partnered Islam Slimani, who scored Leicester's equaliser after James Morrison had given West Brom the lead.

Vardy, last season's leading scorer, made little impact after stepping off the bench at half-time.

"In this moment we play better with Shinji Okazaki," said Ranieri. "Today, we didn't, but often we do. I didn't play Islam Slimani in the Champions League and I wanted to give a rest to Vardy.

  • HOW THE LEICESTER STRIKE DUO STACK UP

  • JAMIE VARDY

    11 APPEARANCES

    2 GOALS

    0.18 GOALS PER MATCH

    14 SHOTS

    4 SHOTS ON TARGET

    29% SHOOTING ACCURACY

    3 BIG CHANCES MISSED

  • SHINJI OKAZAKI       

    8 APPEARANCES

    1 GOALS

    0.13 GOALS PER MATCH

    11 SHOTS

    4 SHOTS ON TARGET

    36% SHOOTING ACCURACY

    2 BIG CHANCES MISSED

"But it wasn't right, they didn't do what I asked so in the second half I introduced Vardy to attack the defensive line."

Ranieri backed Danny Drinkwater to bounce back from the howler that ended their 20-match unbeaten home Premier League record.

The England midfielder's dreadful back pass handed Matt Phillips the winner for West Brom to inflict Leicester's first home league defeat for more than a year.

With an appalling away record of one point from 15 this season, the last thing Leicester need is a home slump.

Ranieri apologised to supporters for the end of the run but insisted that Drinkwater will respond positively.

"I am very sorry we lost our unbeaten record at home," said the Italian, whose side maintained their unbeaten Champions League record last Wednesday with a goal-less draw in Copenhagen. "But we knew it would be a tough match against West Bromwich.

"Danny has said nothing. Every player can make mistakes. What can you say to him? He is one of our best players. It is no problem. He will overcome that, of course."

For West Brom, a third victory of the season came without Saido Berahino, after the striker was sent to France for a four-day fitness camp.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'Okazaki a better fit than Vardy for erratic Leicester'. Print Edition | Subscribe