Roll back 12 months ago, Leicester City were embroiled in a relegation battle with very little light at the end of the tunnel. Most pundits, fans and even players must have been convinced it wasn’t to be Leicester’s season and they would find themselves staring at life in The Championship once again.
For what happened next, the majority of the credit must go to Nigel Pearson for keeping spirits up and turning the tide and beating off relegation. If that was a miracle in itself, I’m not quite sure what words describe what’s happened this season so far.
4 Key aspects in my opinion as to why Leicester City’s incredible form is still going strong and their title charge even more so;
1.) Relentless Attack minded Football –
Without a shadow of doubt the most entertaining team in this season’s Barclays Premier League so far. From genuine relegation candidates at the start of the season to the highest scorers in the league after 28 games.
Leicester have massed an incredible 51 goals so far this campaign at an average of 1.8 goals per game, compare that to Manchester United’s 1.3 goals a game, including the 1/4 of a billion Van Gaal has spend on players.
Much of Leicester’s rise up the league is due to the devastating partnership which Vardy & Mahrez have managed to maintain. Vardy (19) & Mahrez (14) have amassed for 64.7% of all of Leicester City’s 51 goals in the Premier League.
2.) N’Golo Kanté –
Even if the title challenge fades away in the last games of the season, this man’s first season cannot be underrated. Alongside Dimitri Payet at West Ham, he’s my signing of the season. Leicester City fans must have been concerned when such an esteemed player like Esteban Cambiasso left in the summer of 2015.
Foxes fans had no reason to worry. The first player to reach 100 interceptions in the league, average of 4.8 interceptions per 90 minutes. Easily one of the best tacklers in the league. Clearly he’s well received at Leicester after being involved in 26 games out of 28 so far this season (Injured for the last 2 games)
At the young age of 24, foxes fans can expect a lot more great performances from Kanté to come, £5.6m could become the steal of the season.
3.) Foxes Fight Till The End –
Statistics show that if games so far this season finished at Half Time, Leicester would be still top of the league but with only 44 points, hot on their trails are Spurs with 41 points. It proves how team spirit is booming at The King Power Stadium at the moment, the sort of attitude which managers must dream of their players adopting, they very simply don’t stop attacking the opposition goal until the referee blows his whistle for full time. In my opinion, how the game should be played.
A similar philosophy was adopted by the Manchester United Team which won the treble in 1999, take the recent 1-0 victory over Norwich. Ulloa in the 89th minute to win a valuable 3 points to keep Leicester top of the table.
After hearing post match comments from Manuel Pellegrini after Liverpool dismantled his Manchester City side 3-0 at Anfield, you hear the words ‘players are tied’. At no point this season have I heard Claudio Ranieri talk after a poor performance (not that there’s been many of those!) that his players are tied and need a ‘rest’. Like I heard Danny Mills discuss last night on BBC606, ‘if you keep telling players that they’re tired, they will begin to feel tired’. Ranieri has instilled a winning mentality, although cleverly always diverted attention away to other so called ‘bigger clubs’.
4.) Claudio Ranieri – Who’s the tinkerman now?
Speaking to a few friends who happened to be Foxes supporters, before the season started back in August, they voiced their concern with Mr. Ranieri taking over at The King Power. You could understand their concerns too with the turmoil which happened when he took over recently as National Manager of Greece, and with his past with Chelsea.
Claudio ‘The Tinkerman’ Ranieri; that was his title previously working in England, and he certainly lived up to that name! In the 2003 / 2004 season, his last with Chelsea he used 27 players altogether in the league. Winning formula? I think not. How can consistency and players working off each other with that many players getting used throughout a season.
I understand 38 games in a season can take its toll, and injuries are part of the game, but 27 players seems an incredibly high number. But Ranieri has returned for his 2nd spell in the Premier League and learnt from his previous past. So far in 28 games in the league, only 19 players have been used. A stark difference from his previous time at Chelsea.
It seems players work better off playing regularly with the same players, working patterns, formations become tighter, plans become better executed.
For the example, in the engine room at Leicester City the already mentioned superb Kanté, Danny Drinkwater, Andy King all through playing regularly with one another are now keeping the rewards. In the recent 2-2 draw with West Brom, Andy King came into the starting eleven, replacing Kanté. Was King out of place? No, he had a storming game and capped it off with a top team goal too.
Consistent is key.
After getting so close this season, I do hope they can see it out the whole way and become the Champions they have played like this season. One thing which most fans will agree on though is that it’s become great entertainment watching Leicester City play this season.
This was my first blog post, thanks for the taking the time to read it. I’ll be back soon with the next instalment!