When you look at the best run clubs in the Premier League, you tend to look no further than Leicester City. The Foxes have been a figure of consistency since they shocked all the betting odds on sites like Betdaq and won the Premier League in 2016. Even when dealt difficult circumstances and with their best players leaving, Leicester have rarely seen their form nosedive as drastically as it has this season, and they are currently sat 13th in the table.
Going back this time last year and the Foxes were flying. Brendan Rodgers had assembled a squad of classy players, capable of both implementing his possession-based attacking football and having the defensive guile to see out games to ensure they would climb the table. Sadly, history repeated itself, and having missed out on the Champions League on the final day of the 2019/20 season, they did the same this time around, losing to Tottenham Hotspur—although they did beat Chelsea to pick up the FA Cup and then won the Community Shield in this season’s curtain raiser.
Despite the season ending on a bittersweet note, Leicester looked to have enjoyed a strong pre-season and made some smart moves in the summer transfer window. Patson Daka arrived from Red Bull Salzburg, deemed a suitable long-term heir to Jamie Vardy’s goalscoring throne, while they managed to retain the services of star players like James Maddison, who were linked with moves away. Regardless of how good that squad looks on paper, they simply haven’t lived up to expectations so far this season and have paid the costs for their inconsistency.
In danger of their European ambitions combusting already, and still winless in the Europa League, Leicester find themselves in real trouble if they can’t turn things around quickly. Once again, they looked to have been massively plagued by injuries. After losing one of their stars from last season, Wesley Fofana, in a friendly match, the Foxes have looked weak at the back. The once reliable partnership of Çağlar Söyüncü and Jonny Evans has faltered at every hurdle this campaign, with the pair simply bullied by Napoli forward Victor Osimhen when the Italians visited the King Power last month.
Trying to balance the Premier League and life in Europe just hasn’t managed to work so far for Rodgers. After taking a 2-0 lead against Napoli, they capitulated in the games dying embers and then struggled away to Legia Warsaw, losing 1-0 and being left rooted rock bottom of Group C. While there is still time for the Foxes to turn things around, they will need to get their act together quickly and have a double header against Spartak Moscow, a regular European outfit but a side that have also had their problems this season, to rectify their mistakes so far.
This is hardly a Leicester side with years ahead of them. The majority of the starting XI have enjoyed their prime years or are currently in them, and while the younger players like Daka and new addition Boubakary Soumaré will be allowed a bedding-in process to allow an integration to Leicester’s system, they had better pick up the pace quickly or be left without any European football come the end of the season.
Of course, there is time for Rodgers to turn things around and he is certainly the right man for the job, but you do wonder if trying to balance too many competitions with an ageing squad will come back to bite the East Midlands when the business end of the season approaches.
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