For the younger football fan, Leicester City are on course to do ‘a Chelsea’ – the team they coincidentally lost to at the weekend and dethroned as Premier League champions. For those much older, the Foxes might as well be on their way to repeating a Blackburn. For whatever it is worth, they must act fast before the rot leads to a return to the reality they have seemingly cast aside; the reality of struggling to compete with the top teams in the league.
Eight games into the new season, and they have already lost more games than they did throughout last season. While they have looked a bit similar to last season’s Leicester in the Champions League, they aren’t even playing close to that Leicester in the league. Perhaps, the contrast in performance and result between home and abroad lies in the fact teams on the continent are still not sure how to approach games against them.
Defensively, they have been all over the place and offensively, they have been just as disappointing. N’Golo Kante, half-man and half-everything else was sold to Chelsea; and while it’s a logical excuse for their defensive frailties considering how crucial he was at breaking play and covering spaces for the team last season, his departure isn’t enough reason for the number of goals they have conceded through set-plays and crosses. Wes Morgan and Robert Huth, two giant center-backs who made the Leicester penalty area a ‘no flight zone’ for the opposition only six months ago, suddenly look like different pairs of broken stilettos. But perhaps, both players are victims of football’s selective memory because at this stage last season, they had conceded the same amount of goals.
What kept them in their title race until they were able to sort themselves out at the back was goals; as often supplied by either Riyad Mahrez or Jamie Vardy. So far, both players seem stuck on the highs of last season’s shock success, and Vardy in particular looks like the non-league player he once was. His runs are hasty and are rather predictable, while his poor hold-up has made him a liability in games where Leicester have had their backs to the wall. A
direct reason why he’s had so few touches and so few shots on goal. The record signings of Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani hasn’t yielded much so far, with Musa yet to seal a regular place in the team and Slimani still getting acquainted to life in the Premier League.
Goals inspire confidence, confidence intensifies momentum, and momentum influences games. At the moment though, Kasper Schmeichel is often the man in view when screams of ‘goal’ are heard in games involving Leicester. Basically, Claudio Ranieri not only need to sort out the blunders at the back quicker than he did last season, he also need to find a solution to the bluntness up front.
Kante aside, he was able to keep the core of the players who won him the only league title in his managerial cabinet, and so he shouldn’t have much to complain about. They might have punched above their weight last season, but against Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea, they have been below average.
Blackburn couldn’t build on a similar success over two decades ago, and just last season, Chelsea had one of the poorest title defenses since punters started taking bets on football matches. Like Blackburn and Chelsea, who both wore different shades of blue and white, Leicester must ensure their crest isn’t added to the infamous sequence of disappointing champions.
Article written by Dhee Sylvester, follow him on Twitter – @DheeGenius