Leicester's Forgotten Man Ayoze Perez Shines Against Sheffield United

06 December 2020 07:45

Prior to Leicester's 2-1 win at Bramall Lane on Sunday, Ayoze Perez had enjoyed just 355 minutes of football all season.

Even with the Foxes' additional Europa League commitments, he has been a forgotten man this campaign, with Dennis Praet, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes establishing themselves ahead of him in the pecking order.

However, with Leicester without a win in four games, Brendan Rodgers handed Perez his first Premier League start against Sheffield United. He soon started making up for lost time, looking at home in his side's 3-4-2-1 formation.

Perez's performance was gritty at times | Pool/Getty Images

Operating in the half spaces alongside Maddison, he ran the show creatively, sauntering between the lines with and without the ball. When out of possession he also pressed effectively, hunting the Blades' defence down alongside Jamie Vardy.

Inside ten minutes, he should have got his first assist of the season. Slipping a delicate ball through to an on-rushing Vardy, last season's Premier League Golden Boot winner could only lash an impossibly powerful shot onto the post.

Perez continued to wreak havoc in the early stages, clearly determined to prove a point to his manager. His tenacity paid off in the 24th minute when he managed to volley home the rebound from Marc Albrighton's blocked shot to put his side deservedly in front.

He made no mistake with the finish | Michael Regan/Getty Images

He almost had a decisive impact in another goal before the break, sliding Maddison in like he had Vardy early on, only for his shot to also cannon off the post.

By the time the half time whistle came, Perez had registered more take-ons, shots, chances created and fouls won than any other player on the pitch. In other words, it was the complete performance and an aggressive reminder of exactly what he's capable of.

He continued to look spritely before being dragged off with 20 minutes to go, perhaps with Thursday's game against AEK Athens in mind.

His display added fuel to the argument that he is best deployed centrally, rather than out wide. Although, Leicester's best ever spell under Rodgers - the first half of last season - came when he was deployed on the right wing, Perez has always maintained he feels most at home in attacking midfield.

Even when he was playing out wide last campaign, he could not help but drift towards his favoured half spaces, often leaving the Foxes midfield somewhat congested when Rodgers set them up in a 4-1-4-1 However, in Leicester's new look formation, Perez's ability to affect the game in these areas is a huge bonus.

He and Maddison - who created Vardy's winner - had superb chemistry against the Blades and more performances like this should see them emerge as Rodgers' started attacking midfielders over the festive period.

Source: 90min