In Focus: Maestro Maddison is key to faltering Foxes' fortunes
Leicester may be struggling to hit form this season — but midfield star James Maddison is still shining brightly for the Foxes.
The 25-year-old playmaker is in the midst of a purple patch having been directly involved in six goals in his last three games across all competitions.
As Brendan Rodgers’ side prepare for this afternoon’s clash with Aston Villa, we take a look at the importance of Maddison’s influence and how it can kick-start Leicester’s campaign.
Maddison was left out of the starting XI for Leicester’s 3-0 home defeat to Chelsea last month but Rodgers was full of praise for his response after returning in the 4-2 win over Watford last Sunday.
The Foxes boss said: "I think you’re seeing the work and the confidence with the level of his game and his movement.
"You see his quality when he’s running and working and creating. He gives the team confidence.
"It’s not about one player, it’s about the team, but he was excellent."
Made by Maddison
Three of Leicester’s last nine goals in all competitions have been assisted by Maddison — Jamie Vardy’s brace against Watford and Wilfred Ndidi’s strike in the 3-1 Europa League win over Legia Warsaw three days earlier.
The playmaker’s return to form has given the East Midlanders a welcome extra creative spark.
With a total of four assists in the Premier League and Europa League combined, he is just one behind team-mate Kelechi Iheanacho.
Furthermore, only Youri Tielemans (26) has created more chances across those two competitions than Maddison’s 24, while no one has fashioned more big chances than the England man (five).
Topping up his own tally
Maddison’s link-up with Vardy could be vital to Leicester pushing on domestically and in Europe — but he also offers a goal threat of his own.
As if setting up three goals in his last three outings was not enough, he has also scored in each of them.
And if he produces a repeat of last season when he registered 11 times in all competitions, his best return for the Foxes, Leicester’s future could be very bright.
Attack is the best form of defence
A front-foot approach appears to be the best way forward for Leicester at the moment, with their porous backline an ongoing concern.
After conceding 25 goals in 14 top-flight games, the Foxes have one of the worst defensive records in the Premier League.
They have not kept a clean sheet since September — and not in the league since the opening day of the campaign.
That leakiness could take some time to fix, so it is probably just as well Rodgers has one of his key attacking weapons back performing at his best.
Doing the dirty work
As well as his creative instincts, Maddison has undoubtedly demonstrated his worth when it comes to the defensive side of the game.
The ultimate example of this came in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw at Southampton.
Leicester’s No10 showed great determination to get back and block an 89th-minute cross and help preserve a point for the Foxes.
Those are the qualities all managers look for in their players — and few members of Rodgers’ squad are proving more valuable than Maddison right now.