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Look Back: The Numbers Behind Jamie Vardy’s Record-Breaking Goalscoring Run

 

The subplot in the miraculous story of Leicester City in 2015/16, Saturday marks five years since Jamie Vardy broke Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record for the longest goalscoring run in Premier League history. We grab our bottle of WKD, put on our data-tinted glasses and look back on his record-breaking achievement. 

By: Gareth Boyes

The Great Escape

Rewind to the evening of April 4th, 2015 and you will find Leicester City rock bottom of the Premier League table, four points from safety and with just eight games remaining to avoid being relegated back to the Championship after just one season in the promised land.

However, The Foxes had just recorded a 2-1 victory over West Ham United earlier that day thanks to a late strike from Andy King – a result that would spark a run of seven victories in nine Premier League games for Nigel Pearson’s men (D1, L1). That run would close out the season for the Foxes and maintain their Premier League status with a 14th placed finish.

Leicester spent 140 days at the foot of the Premier League table in 2014/15, the most ever in a single season by a team that has avoided relegation in the competition’s history. Jamie Vardy also only scored five goals in 34 league appearances that season, so when Leicester were labelled a 5000/1 shot for the title ahead of the 2015/16 campaign, even that may have been slightly generous.


A WKD Run

Jamie Vardy would go on to score the opening goal of the 2015/16 Premier League season for the Foxes with an 11th minute strike against Sunderland as Leicester and their striker laid down a marker for what was to come.

After two goalless outings for the forward against West Ham and Spurs, an 86th minute equaliser from the penalty spot at the tail end of August started a phenomenal scoring run that few expected from Vardy.

Between August 29th and November 28th 2015, Jamie Vardy scored in 11 successive matches for Leicester City, with 13 goals netted across those appearances in total.

Braces against Arsenal and Southampton as well as a customary away goal at the Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion all came during the run. It was fitting that he broke the record in the 11th game with a strike from his only shot of the match against Manchester United, meaning he overtook former Red Devil Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of 10 games between March and August 2003.

Jamie Vardy's Record Goalscoring Run

Leicester City lost just one of those 11 games that the England striker scored in, recording a total of 22 points (W6 D4) with Vardy’s goals accounting for 14 of those alone.

Overall, in the 2015/16 Premier League season, Vardy’s goals were worth more points to his team than any other player (23) with teammate Riyad Mahrez (20) ranking second in that respect.

In that season, Harry Kane pipped Jamie Vardy to the Golden Boot yet his 25 goals were worth just eight points to Spurs.


Fox in the Box

Excluding penalties, Vardy recorded 46 shots that accumulated an expected goals (xG) figure across his breathtaking run of 7.1. That means the average xG value of Vardy’s efforts was 0.15, so we would expect roughly 15% of those shots to have found the back of the net given the quality of the chances.

Unsurprisingly the Englishman exceeded this figure, appropriately for such a special run, with the striker converting 22% of his shots.

Three of the Leicester striker’s 13 goals in the run came from the spot with Vardy winning all three of the penalties himself. Vardy was fouled for seven penalties overall in the 2015/16 season, at least four more than any other player, dispatching five from the spot in total.

Jamie Vardy Shot Map During Goalscoring Run

All 13 of Vardy’s goals came from inside the penalty area, a trend that has long continued in the strikers’ career. Of the 19 members of the Premier League 100 Club, only Dwight Yorke (98% – 121/123) has scored a greater proportion of his goals from inside the 18-yard box than Vardy (97% – 108/111).

Jamie Vardy is rightly regarded as one of the best strikers currently operating in the Premier League, mainly down to his pace with and without the ball.

Four of Vardy’s 13 goals in his 11-game stretch came from the striker utilising this trait and finding the net following a carry of 5+ metres with the ball (vs Stoke, the first goal vs Arsenal, vs Crystal Palace & against West Brom).

Top 5 European Leagues - 2015/16 - Goals follow ball carry

Overall, in the 2015/16 season, Jamie Vardy scored nine goals following a ball carry; the most in the Premier League and second only to Gonzalo Higuaín across the top five European leagues.

Jamie Vardy Ball Carries 2015/16


Three’s a Charm

The best goalscoring run in the Premier League Vardy could boast before his record-breaking run was just two in a row, a goal in the final game of the 2014/15 season and the opening game of the 2015/16 campaign.

However, since then, goalscoring streaks have become a staple of Vardy’s Premier League career since hitting the 11-game mark.

Vardy has recorded 11 different runs of scoring in 3+ consecutive Premier League games since the start of the 2015/16 season, including the record 11, with Harry Kane (9) the only player within touching distance of that total.

The only player that has threatened to dethrone Vardy from his record is the Sheffield born striker himself, scoring in eight straight games between October and December 2019.

No other player has scored in more than seven consecutive English top-flight games since Vardy broke the record (Aguero & Lukaku) whilst Daniel Sturridge is the only other player alongside the current and former record holder to score in eight straight appearances in Premier League history.

Longest Goalscoring Runs in Premier League history

Jamie Vardy’s 11-game goalscoring run was ultimately a subplot in the miraculous story of Leicester City in the 2015/16 Premier League season but it deservedly holds its own place in the competition’s history, and if anyone can rewrite it, you wouldn’t put it past it being him once again.


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