JAMIE REDKNAPP: Wilfred Ndidi is Leicester’s very own Didier Deschamps

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One of Eric Cantona’s most memorable quotes came when he described his fellow Frenchman Didier Deschamps as ‘the water carrier’.

While the former Manchester United man meant that in a derisive way, every team needs one of those – a player willing to do the dirty work in midfield and put out fires.

Deschamps was one of the very best at it – a defensive midfielder who excelled at winning the ball. He had perfect positional awareness and a tireless work rate to boot.

Wilfred Ndidi is the key cog in a thriving Leicester team as his side are reaping their rewards from his tireless work

Wilfred Ndidi is the key cog in a thriving Leicester team as his side are reaping their rewards from his tireless work

Wilfred Ndidi is the key cog in a thriving Leicester team as his side are reaping their rewards from his tireless work

Wilfred Ndidi is doing the same for Leicester now. No one has committed more tackles in the Premier League than the 22-year-old, and no one has made more interceptions.

There are so many things to admire about Leicester under Brendan Rodgers, and Ndidi is one of them. 

I was at the King Power Stadium to watch them beat Arsenal on Saturday evening and spoke to James Maddison afterwards. He hailed his Nigerian team-mate and rightly so.

When Leicester lost N’Golo Kante to Chelsea for £32million, in the summer after their 5,000-1 title triumph, we figured the Foxes would never get over it. How do you replace someone like that in your midfield?

When Ngolo Kante left Leicester for Chelsea many thought the Foxes would never replace him

When Ngolo Kante left Leicester for Chelsea many thought the Foxes would never replace him

When Ngolo Kante left Leicester for Chelsea many thought the Foxes would never replace him

Yet they got on with it and found Ndidi, a £17m buy from Genk. He makes what he does look simple, and enjoys the responsibility, too.

As well as his defensive expertise, Ndidi has other qualities, too. At 6ft, he is good in the air. He gets into the box, and I’m sure the King Power’s crossbar is still shaking from his ferocious shot on Saturday.

He has the right attitude, too.

Remember when he was at fault for conceding a goal against Chelsea in August, when he allowed himself to be robbed of possession by Mason Mount? He responded by scoring a superb headed equaliser at the same end in the second half at Stamford Bridge, earning his side a point.

What amazing recruitment they have at Leicester. They lose Kante but find Ndidi. They lose Harry Maguire to Manchester United but bring through Caglar Soyuncu. Rodgers has struck such a good balance with this team and you would not bet against them finishing inside the top four now.

James Maddison lauded the work of his team-mate when we had a chat after the Arsenal game

James Maddison lauded the work of his team-mate when we had a chat after the Arsenal game

James Maddison lauded the work of his team-mate when we had a chat after the Arsenal game 

As for Arsenal, they are in a real mess. Unai Emery is getting the blame, but that is a club devoid of characters in their squad right now.

Where is the leadership? If Granit Xhaka really was captain material, he would have been at the King Power on Saturday. He would have been there fighting to win over the fans who gave him stick. 

Instead he was left at home, and Emery is having to pick up the pieces. The last time Arsenal won away from home against a Big Six club? January 2015, at Manchester City. 

The last time they won away at Leicester? September 2015. They have big problems, and now trail Leicester by nine points.

Frank Lampard's superstitious nature means he won't be out of the tracksuit any time soon

Frank Lampard's superstitious nature means he won't be out of the tracksuit any time soon

Frank Lampard’s superstitious nature means he won’t be out of the tracksuit any time soon

Another good win for Frank Lampard – his sixth in succession in the Premier League. 

Before facing Crystal Palace, Frank spoke to the media about his superstitions – how he eats pasta as a pre-match meal, wears specific boots for training, takes his dog on certain walks.

This is not unusual. Many managers are like this. My dad, for example, would always wear the same tie if he won a match. That’s why right now, you’re seeing Frank only wearing tracksuits on the touchline. 

He doesn’t want to change a winning routine. But here’s a little secret: me and Frank share the same tailor – Thom Sweeney – and I can tell he’s fuming to see Frank continuing to sport tracksuits! He’s desperate for him to buy some suits off him! 

But while Chelsea are winning, Frank will want things to stay exactly the same. Frank showing he is tailor-made for Blues.

West Ham goalkeeper Roberto is being targeted after his mistakes in their 3-0 loss to Burnley, but the reality is nobody is playing well for that club at the moment. 

At the start of the season, I said a standout campaign for Felipe Anderson could see rival clubs come in with £60m-plus bids for the Brazilian. But he has not been turning it on. 

A lot of players there need to pull their fingers out. West Ham have a talented squad, and their struggles are not just down to Roberto.

West Ham keeper Roberto is being targeted for his mistakes but nobody is playing well

West Ham keeper Roberto is being targeted for his mistakes but nobody is playing well

West Ham keeper Roberto is being targeted for his mistakes but nobody is playing well

Chris Wilder is my favourite for Manager of the Year after impressing with Sheffield United

Chris Wilder is my favourite for Manager of the Year after impressing with Sheffield United

Chris Wilder is my favourite for Manager of the Year after impressing with Sheffield United

Chris Wilder has to be favourite to win the Premier League’s Manager of the Year award right now. Frank Lampard is performing amazingly at Chelsea, getting big performances out of young players.

What a story it would be if Jurgen Klopp leads Liverpool to the title ahead of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, too.

But Wilder has wowed us all. His Sheffield United side were written off by plenty at the start of the season. But look at them now – leaving the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium disappointed with only a point. 

That says it all. His team play so brave in the way their centre backs charge forward, even against the bigger sides. If they can finish in the top half of the table, then Wilder has to take home that award.

Sometimes something can happen on the pitch that makes you realise how lucky you are to be doing what you do. Everton’s players may have felt like that in the wake of the horrific injury to Andre Gomes. 

It may have galvanised them ahead of their trip to Southampton. They left with a win, and Ralph Hasenhuttl is under severe pressure, but the Saints players have to share the blame, too.

MY PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM OF THE WEEKEND

 

 

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