The fairytale could be set to have an unhappy ending, as Leicester City have went from Premier League champions to relegation candidates in just 8 months.
Yesterday evening’s defeat to Burnley left the foxes swimming in dangerous waters, as they were further embroiled into the relegation battle. Leicester are currently only two points ahead of the bottom three, after losing 6 of their last 10 games in the Premier League.
The defending champions have only won 5 matches this season and have lost six times as many games compared to this stage last season. Their advancement in the Champions League has been a relieving release from the decline in their current league form.
The foxes finished top of their group in their debut Champions League campaign, despite losing 5-0 to FC Porto with a weakened team on the last match day. That defeat in Portugal has rather set the tone for their recent downfall.
There’s been glimpses of the old Leicester with impressive victories over Manchester City and West Ham. However, the standards have seriously dropped at the King Power Stadium and their Premier League status could be at risk.
The dynamic duo in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have been underwhelming this season. Vardy, who scored 24 league goals last season, has notched up just five goals this term. His “one-off” campaign, in which Leicester won the title, was truly admirable but it seems an overachievement after this season’s performances.
Riyad Mahrez won the PFA Player of the Year last season and also finished 7th in the Ballon D’Or. The Algerian was linked with a move away in the summer and has failed to impress at the King Power Stadium since his future at the club was in doubt.
N’Golo Kante has also left a huge hole in Leicester’s midfield, which they’ve been unable to replace. His worth ethic, stamina and statistical contribution, such as interceptions, touches and tackles have seriously been missed this season.
The new signings from the summer transfer window have also failed to meet expectations. Musa has scored just two league goals this season, Mendy has only featured in the league on 3 occasions and Slimani has been inconsistent.
The problems are escalating at Leicester City and the fairytale is set to turn into a nightmare. It’s hard to get down to core of the problem with Claudio Ranieri’s side, as the title winning stars are almost all still with the club.
You could also consider that only two years ago, Leicester were bottom in the Premier League and three points from safety. It took 7 wins from their last 9 games to preserve their top flight status.
So is there an escalating problem or is it just simply a very harsh reality check? Looking at the positives, they are outside the relegation zone and in the knockout stages of the Champions League. On the other hand, their poor form is becoming increasingly concerning and they are at risk of losing their place in the Premier League.
I’ve written this report, in an attempt to select the various problems occurring at the King Power Stadium this season…
Leicester Struggling to Deal With the Loss of their Magnificent Three
Three was the magic number last season, with Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante displaying acts of heroism in their contributions to guiding Leicester to their first ever league title.
N’Golo Kante was statistically the best player in the Premier League last season, due to his high amount of interceptions, tackles and miles travelled on the football pitch. He provided stamina and an admirable worth ethic, which allowed the other Leicester players to play with a more direct and attacking approach.
His presence in the starting line-up also made life easier for centre-backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. Their defence only conceded 26 goals after 23 matches last season, whereas this season they’ve already conceded 38 times. There is also a decline in their goal scoring form, with the foxes managing 18 more goals at this stage last term.
The statistics are very depressing for Leicester City supporters to read but Kante’s absence from the midfield has had a detrimental effect on the team. They also failed to line-up an adequate replacement, with Mendy and Amartey failing miserably at filling his boots.
Yes, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy may still be at the King Power Stadium but their drop of form has almost made them passive contributors to the team’s recent displays. Vardy has scored only 5 goals this season, compared to the 17 he’d scored at this stage last year.
The England international had set very high standards after finishing last season with 24 goals. This made it very difficult to eclipse the success of Leicester’s title winning season but more was expected of the former Fleetwood Town striker.
Riyad Mahrez also finished last year in stylish fashion, winning the PFA Player of the Year and finishing 7th in the Ballon D’Or vote. He’s been impressive in the Champions League but has failed to transfer that form onto the domestic front.
The 25-year-old returned to the starting line-up against Burnley yesterday, after exiting the African Cup of Nations at the group phase with Algeria. The Algerian international has only scored 3 league goals this season but has netted 4 times in the Champions League.
Here’s my summary of the three departed souls of Leicester City. They’ve lost two mentally (Vardy and Mahrez) and one physically (Kante). They’ve lost their engine in Kante, playmaker in Mahrez and goal scorer in Vardy.
Underachievement or Regression?
Are Leicester City underachieving this season or have they regressed and returned to the position they were in before winning the Premier League title? You must remember, Leicester were bottom place at the beginning of February 2015 and three points from safety.
Nigel Pearson mastered their survival battle with seven victories out of their final nine games of the season. He was subsequently sacked, to many people’s surprise, and replaced with the “tinkerman” Claudio Ranieri.
The former Chelsea manager started his Leicester career very promisingly and the club’s dreams soon turned into a reality. Pundits, supporters and everyone involved in the beautiful game continuously wrote off Leicester but they were relentless and achieved the improbable.
The next step was to follow that success with another but this season’s slump in form is enough evidence to tell people they were unable to achieve this. However, is it? They are still in the Champions League, who says they can go on and win it?
Me for one but they proved critics wrong by winning the Premier League last season, although the Champions League may be a step too far from their reach. The Champions League has been a release from the domestic problems facing Leicester and has also added gloss to a truly underwhelming season for the defending champions.