Leicesters Premier League title charge was built on exhilarating attacking play in the first half of the season, but their mean defence is coming to the fore now. After a fourth 1-0 victory in five games against Crystal Palace on Saturday, we take a look at how the high-flying Foxes have adapted… When Leicester sat top of the table at Christmas it was largely thanks to a record of 37 goals in 17 games. Jamie Vardys record-breaking scoring run had propelled them to unthinkable heights, but when the goals started drying up for the 29-year-old it was widely anticipated the magic would fade and the Foxes would start to slide.Their defensive record did not exactly cry out solidity, after all. Leicester had conceded 24 times in those 17 games - the same number as relegation-threatened Swansea - and it wasnt until late October that Claudio Ranieri had to come good on his promise of pizza to reward their first clean sheet of the season. Three months on, however, and Leicesters players are dining on pizza almost every week. Premier League viewers have become accustomed to seeing them at the top of the pile - and the Foxes are just seven games away from making history with a title challenge that is rapidly gathering momentum. Leicesters Premier League record before and after Christmas Leicester 2015/16 Before Christmas After Christmas Games played 17 14 Wins 11 8 Draws 5 4 Losses 1 2 Goals scored 37 17 Goals conceded 24 7 Clean sheets 3 9 Leicester remain a deadly force on the counter-attack, but the statistics illustrate how the emphasis has shifted since Christmas. Before then, the Foxes were averaging 2.2 goals per game, but they have only netted 17 times in 14 outings since then at a rate of just 1.2 goals per game.Despite the drop-off in goals scored, however, Leicesters results have remained consistent, with their average points per game only falling slightly (from 2.4 before Christmas to 2.0 afterwards) while their lead at the top of the table continues to grow. Leicesters Premier League record before and after Christmas Leicester 2015/16 Before Christmas After Christmas Goals per game 2.2 1.2 Shots on target per game 5.1 3.9 Goals conceded per game 1.4 0.5 Shots on target faced per game 4.2 3.4 Points per game 2.2 2.0 A run of four shut-outs in five games has highlighted their defensive resilience in recent weeks, but the stinginess has been apparent for months. Since Christmas, and with help from midfield enforcer NGolo Kante, a first-choice back five of Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan and Christian Fuchs has only been breached seven times.Once we got that first clean sheet, it cemented the idea in peoples heads that keeping a clean sheet is a great foundation to build upon, said back-up goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer on Sky Sports News HQ. Weve got players who will always score goals, so if you can keep a clean sheet when the season gets tighter and the pressure starts to mount, you can win games by the odd goal. Speaking on Sky Sports News HQ, Leicester City goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer highlights their defence as the key to their impressive recent form Having found defensive shut-outs so hard to come by at the start of the campaign, Leicester have now kept nine in their last 13 games. In the same period, no other Premier League side has managed more than seven. They have the look of champions about them, noted Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp in his Daily Mail column - and hes not the only one to have been impressed.They dont give a lot away, said Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew after Riyad Mahrezs first-half strike settled Saturdays game at Selhurst Park. Theyre underestimated defensively. Theyve got energy and theyre up to the ball all the time. Theyre tight and its difficult to create against them. Most Premier League clean sheets since Christmas Team Clean sheets Leicester 9 Southampton 7 Arsenal 6 Manchester City 6 The two centre-halves are confident in possession, they rarely make mistakes and they dont slash at clearances. They make good clearances from their defensive third and theyre fast. They have a lovely balance to the team and you have to admire them.Leicester have also had to adapt to their opponents attempts to nullify their goalscoring threat. The Foxes thrived in the first half of the season by ceding possession to their rivals, waiting for mistakes and springing forward on the counter-attack, but since their 2-1 defeat to Arsenal the likes of Norwich and West Brom have played them at their own game. Kasper Schmeichel, Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs have shone in recent weeks The Foxes have therefore averaged 53.4 per cent possession in the last five games compared to 40.5 per cent earlier in the season. The enforced change of approach has resulted in fewer opportunities for Ranieris attackers to get in behind, but their defensive solidity has made the difference at the other end.Leicester are now within touching distance of one of the most extraordinary achievements in football history, and while Mahrez and Vardy are likely to battle it out for the player of the year gong, they are certainly not the only individuals who are due a considerable share of the credit. Leicesters remarkable stats We look at the numbers behind Leicesters Premier League title charge. Also See: Leicesters remarkable stats Leicester to slip up? Ranieri remaining grounded Mahrez: Title getting close Andre Moreira Jersey
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. The teams all-time leading scorer, DeRo has won everything there is to win in MLS.Former Wales international Sam Ricketts has announced his retirement from the game due to a knee injury. Ricketts, who won 52 caps for his country between 2005 and 2014, made six League One starts for Coventry this season after signing a new one-year contract in the summer.The former Swansea, Hull, Bolton and Wolves player has not played for the club since October and the 35-year-old has decided to hang up his boots after taking medical advice. Ricketts played for Hull in the Premier League during 2008-09 In a statement issued to Sky Sports News HQ on Wednesday, he said: Today, I am announcing my decision to retire from the game after having received medical advice that I should stop playing with immediate effect due to injury. Six months half price Upgrade to Sky Sports to watch Man Utd v Arsenal on Saturday and get the first six months half price I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me to fulfil every boys dream of becoming a professional footballer. I am grateful to all of the managers, coaches and team-mates that I have had the honour of working with and learning from throughout my career. Ricketts enjoyed a successful two-year spell at Wolves I would also like to expresss my gratitude to the brilliant supporters of the clubs I have played at for always offering me their wholehearted support.dddddddddddd Last but not least, I wish to thank my family for being my inspiration and for having always been there for me.I have been hugely fortunate to ply my trade in every division from the Conference to the Premier League and am immensely proud of having being capped by Wales on 52 occasions. It has been a fantastic journey and one which has provided me with so many unbelievable experiences and memories. Ricketts had a spell at Swindon before joining Coventry last year As my playing career comes to an end, I am now looking forward to embarking on a new chapter. A few years ago, I started working towards my coaching badges and am currently in the process of completing my UEFA A Licence with the Welsh FA.I am excited about the challenges that lie ahead and now hope to be able to give something back to a game which has given me so much.Ricketts was a product of the Oxford United academy and made his senior debut for the club before joining Swansea in 2004 after a year-long spell at non-league Telford.He was signed by Hull for £300,000 in 2006 and made over 100 appearances for the club as an instrumental part of the side that was promoted to the Premier League in 2008.Upgrade to Sky Sports now to watch Man Utd v Arsenal this Saturday and get the first six months half price! Also See: Wales latest news Wales fixtures/results Wales statistics Ricketts signs new contract Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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