Leicester City’s recent 2-0 home win over Chelsea took them top of the English Premier League, with Super Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi scoring the opener with a rare goal.
However briefly the Foxes once again occupy that lofty perch, they are in the title race again this term.
Wilfred Ndidi has scored his first Premier League goal since September 2019 against Newcastle.
Two of his last three Premier League goals have come against Chelsea. pic.twitter.com/JhHV1PJAPV
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 19, 2021
Both Ndidi and fellow Nigeria international Kelechi Iheanacho, who is also on the books at the King Power Stadium, have roles to play in the second half of the season. Leicester’s comfortable victory over a Chelsea team that spent over £200,000,000 on recruiting new players this summer is a major statement from Brendan Rodgers’s boys.
Bookmakers reacted to the Foxes’ win by slashing their English Premier League odds for the title into 20/1, while also offering a 13/10 price that they finish in the top four this season. Rodgers saw his side run out of steam in their quest to secure a UEFA Champions League for this campaign last term, so will want to avoid a repeat of that in the coming months.
Lagos-born Ndidi, 24, was not bought in from Belgian club Genk to get goals. His role is that of a holding midfielder, to break up play and get the ball forward to Leicester’s talented crop of attacking talents, yet he still chipped with an important early contribution in this big game.
Signed for £17,000,000 by Claudio Ranieri to replace Premier League title winner N’Golo Kante when Chelsea bought him the previous summer, there was no head-to-head battle with Ndidi’s predecessor in this game. The visitors instead sent out an attack-minded midfield trio of Kai Havertz, Mateo Kovacic, and Mason Mount.
While Chelsea had more possession, the hosts took their chances and that was the difference between the two sides. The win has Foxes fans dreaming of another Premier League title triumph five years on from the miraculous 2015-16 campaign.
Only three Nigerian footballers have winners’ medals, illustrating how rare it is that they reach the very top of English football. Ironically enough, two of those lifted the trophy with Chelsea in John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses.
The third Super Eagle to have got his hands on the Premier League title is Nwankwo Kanu, twice a winner with Arsenal under legendary French manager Arsene Wenger. There are parallels between these greats and Leicester’s hopefuls.
Kanu was not always first-choice at Arsenal, with Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp forming a potent partnership that made the Gunners into Invincibles back in 2003-04 when they became champions without losing a match. Iheanacho has been backup to Foxes frontman Jamie Vardy since signing from Manchester City, but his time to shine may yet come.
Mikel, meanwhile, got signed to be the successor to Claude Makelele when he left Chelsea in 2008. Widely considered one of the best defensive midfielders to have ever played the game, that situation is comparable with the one faced by Ndidi when he arrived at Leicester and had to step into the shoes left behind by Kante’s transfer.
Whatever happens between now and the end of this season, the Nigerian contingent among the Foxes will give their all when involved to pull off another fairytale title win.
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