Lost in the hubbub over Manchester United’s astonishing collapse was the remarkable performance of Leicester City and Leonardo Ulloa, both new to the Premier League this season and both looking completely comfortable. The win over Louis van Gaal’s struggling side was only the latest in a long line of noteworthy results and performances.
The season started well for the Foxes, twice equalising to draw with an Everton side who, at that point, it was expected would be as solid as last year, not the quivering mess that was on Sunday overturned by Crystal Palace as the top flight’s worst defence was again taken apart.
A creditable display followed against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge when it took Thibaut Courtois to stop the visitors opening the scoring. A 2-0 defeat may have been the ultimate outcome but more expensively assembled teams than Leicester will get far poorer results against Jose Mourinho’s league leaders.
A 1-1 draw with Arsenal reaffirmed how difficult a place to visit the King Power Stadium is and Jamie Vardy, one of the heroes of the win over United, almost delivered three points against the Gunners. Leicester again had to come from behind and the regularity with which they’ve done so is one of the most impressive aspects of their season so far.
Preparation for the visit of United came in the form of an away win at Stoke and Ulloa – scorer against Everton and Arsenal – got the decisive goal. The Argentine, signed from Brighton and Hove Albion over the summer, also contributed to the comeback against United and in many ways sums up the success of Nigel Pearson’s side.
Statistics from EuroFantasyLeague.com confirm how well Ulloa has settled in to the Premier League. Only one striker has claimed more points – Diego Costa, who cost Chelsea roughly £24m more than Ulloa cost Leicester. But there is only 35 points between the players and Ulloa offers far better value – both in the game and in the real world, where Costa is only two goals better off.
Ulloa ranks highly when the comparison extends across Europe, too. Costa tops the chart but only the Spain international and Andre-Pierre Gignac, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic surpass Ulloa. Lionel Messi, Ulloa’s compatriot, is a place and two goals behind.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate Ulloa’s achievement is to consider Sunday’s opposition and, specifically, the strikers available to van Gaal. Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao all started and, when Falcao’s two goals this season for Monaco are taken into account, have scored as many goals combined as Ulloa has on his own. Ulloa can also double Falcao’s game points, nearly double Rooney’s and dwarves van Persie’s.
Having bounced around Argentina and the lower reaches of Spanish football before Brighton brought him to England in 2013-14 Ulloa is taking his chance in barnstorming fashion. Eyebrows were raised at his £8m fee, a record sum for Leicester, but so far, the 28-year-old proving both his worth and his manager’s eye for talent.