23 Oct Ranieri’s cake day
Boss Claudio Ranieri hailed Leicester’s best performance of the season after his gamble to bench Jamie Vardy paid off.
The Foxes clinched their first Premier League win for over a month with a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.
First league goals of the season from Ahmed Musa and Shinji Okazaki put Leicester in control before Christian Fuchs’ stunning half-volley sealed the win.
Victory extended Leicester’s unbeaten home record in the Premier League to 20 games and, after celebrating his birthday on Thursday, Ranieri believes the Foxes’ season starts now.
“I think it’s the best performance of the season,” he said. “For my birthday they have given me three points against Copenhagen and three points today.
“I saved my money because I said (if they got) a clean sheet I’d pay – maybe they don’t want (it) so fantastic. I save my money which is good.
“Sooner or later we’ll lose, but it’s important because today is the basement of our Premier League season. We won and played well and the only thing I don’t like is we conceded a goal.
“This week we made a very good performance against Copenhagen and today. It was important to come back and the first 20 minutes were more difficult as Crystal Palace started better than us, but after that we grew up a lot.”
Vardy has now not scored in his last 10 appearances for club and country after coming on as a second-half substitute.
He was rotated as Ranieri tries to keep his side fresh following their 1-0 Champions League win over Copenhagen on Tuesday and it was the first time he has not started a Premier League game when available since March 2015.
“It’s normal because we have to play so many matches. All the matches are important and when you see Okazaki and Musa in training I have to put them on the pitch,” said Ranieri.
“It wasn’t (because) of injury. If he was injured he wouldn’t have come with me on the bench. I don’t know if he needed a rest, but if I don’t have Shinji, Musa and (Leonardo) Ulloa maybe I have to play him, but when you have some good players it’s right to have a rest.”
Fuchs signed a new three-year deal at the King Power Stadium on Friday and celebrated in style when he scored his first goal for the club.
The right-back fired in a blistering half-volley from 25 yards to wrap up victory – his first goal since March 2015 – and Ranieri wants to see more.
He added: “I’m angry with him because he has this quality and only today he scores a goal. Now he wants another three years on the contract to score another goal?”
Palace dominated the opening stages and Christian Benteke hit the bar, but Leicester wrestled back control well before Musa put them ahead just before the break.
Benteke also had a header cleared off the line and was denied by Kasper Schmeichel before Yohan Cabaye grabbed a late consolation.
Eagles boss Alan Pardew said: “They were good, Leicester, there wasn’t much weakness in the team and we had to work hard for everything. They definitely gave us a test and unfortunately they were better than us.
“Most teams will find it difficult here, we weren’t far away from our best. I was at Chelsea (Leicester’s 3-0 defeat last week) and they didn’t have the verve and aggression but they did today.”