A file photo taken on on November 21, 2015, shows Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy (Below L) as he celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal against Newcastle United in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England.
Wayne Rooney says misfiring Manchester United should follow the example of record-chasing Jamie Vardy in their summit meeting with surprise Premier League leaders Leicester today.
Leicester striker Vardy will make history at the King Power Stadium if he scores for a Premier League record 11th successive match and his record bid couldn’t come at a more uncomfortable time for the struggling Rooney and United’s other out-of-form forwards.
With 13 league goals this season, Vardy has scored more than all of United’s strikers combined and fittingly it is former Old Trafford great Ruud van Nistelrooy whose record he will break if he finds the net this weekend.
Rooney and his fellow United forwards have only nine league goals to their credit and they drew a blank again in midweek with a 0-0 draw against PSV Eindhoven that left them in danger of missing out of the Champions League knockout stages.
United captain Rooney is well aware of the threat posed by Vardy after linking up with the prolific 28-year-old on England duty and he wants his teammates to start showing the kind of composure and predatory instincts displayed by the Leicester star.
“No, we’re not,” Rooney said when asked if his team were ruthless enough. “I think we need to score more goals as a team.
“I feel we showed a lack of composure which put ourselves under pressure a lot of times.
“It’s a learning curve for us, but we can’t go on saying it’s a learning curve. We have to start turning these games into victories.”
If Vardy does break van Nistelrooy’s record it will continue a remarkable rise for a player who was in non-league football with Fleetwood only a few years ago and last season scored just five goals for Leicester.
After firing Leicester in contention for a European berth less than a year after they were battling relegation, Vardy is such a hot property that Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri this week felt compelled to plead with the forward to ignore offers from bigger clubs in the January transfer window.
“At the moment we’re very happy and also Jamie is happy with us and he can continue to show his strength with us,” Ranieri said.
“Jamie is now a champion. He has to take confidence in this. He’s a strong character because he comes from non-league.”
A win for United, who have failed to score in four of their last seven matches, would take them to the top of the table, but a draw would open the door for Manchester City to regain first place.
From a position of strength at the top a week ago, City suddenly face a test of their staying power against Southampton.
City’s shock 4-1 defeat at home to Liverpool last Saturday saw them surrender the lead in the title race, with manager Manuel Pellegrini admitting the performance was one of the worst of his reign.
Captain Vincent Kompany has been badly missed and faces another fortnight out with a calf problem, while David Silva and Samir Nasri are also sidelined and goalkeeper Joe Hart was injured in the midweek Champions League loss at Juventus.
But Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is not looking for excuses.
“We have a fantastic squad. We had quite a lot of injuries from important players but we have to live with that,” Toure said.
“We have to forget this game (at Juventus) and try to bounce back in the league.”
Gary Cahill hopes Chelsea can take the momentum from two consecutive wins into Sunday’s London derby at Tottenham.
The spluttering Premier League champions followed up last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Norwich with a 4-0 Champions League victory at Maccabi Tel Aviv.
But a truer test of their resurgence will come at White Hart Lane, where Chelsea lost 5-3 on New Year’s Day.
“It’s important we keep this momentum going,” Cahill told Chelsea TV. “We have to keep building and try to gather these wins to turn this around.”
Chelsea’s cause will be helped by having an extra two days rest while Tottenham were making the long trip to Azerbaijan for Thursday’s Europa League win over Qarabag.
Fixtures (1500 GMT unless stated)
Aston Villa v Watford, Bournemouth v Everton, Crystal Palace v Newcastle, Leicester v Manchester United (1730 GMT), Manchester City v Southampton, Sunderland v Stoke
Liverpool v Swansea (1615 GMT), Norwich v Arsenal (1615 GMT), Tottenham v Chelsea (1200 GMT), West Ham v West Brom (1405 GMT)
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