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Why Leicester are title challengers again

Discussion in 'The Football Forum' started by King Binny, Nov 25, 2019.

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  1. King Binny

    King Binny Very Well-Known Honorary Member

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    Article: Much of the recent media focus has been on the fascinating battle between Liverpool and Manchester City, the managerial turmoil at Tottenham and the developing crises at Arsenal, Everton and West Ham.

    Away from all that noise though, Brendan Rodgers' side have continued to go about their business quietly (barring one headline-grabbing result), ruthlessly and quite superbly - with Saturday's 2-0 win at Brighton keeping them second in the table, a point above the reigning champions and behind only Jurgen Klopp's unbeaten leaders.

    You don't need us to remind you what happened the last time Leicester were as well-placed at this stage of a Premier League season.

    And while we wouldn't suggest the Foxes book Andrea Bocelli again just yet, the stats behind their impressive start to this campaign do hint at something special brewing once more at the King Power Stadium.

    The 2-0 win at Brighton means Leicester have equalled their best run of consecutive victories in the Premier League.

    The last time they bagged five successive wins was under Claudio Ranieri back in 2015-16, the season that ended with them as, well, you know.

    Unlike that late-season run four campaigns ago - which comprised four 1-0 wins and a 2-0 success - this current series of victories have come with a mightily impressive aggregate of 17-1.

    Yes, nine of those goals came in one game at Southampton, but falling just one short of double figures in a Premier League game is hardly to be sniffed at. It has, after all, only been done twice before.


    They've still got some work to do if they are to challenge the overall club record for consecutive wins, which was set between 21 December and 1 February in their 2013-14 Championship title-winning season.

    If they get anywhere near the Premier League record of 18 straight wins, set in 2017-18 by Manchester City, or the recent 17-game run by Liverpool, which was ended at Old Trafford in October, then we really will be in title-talk territory.

    But with successive home games coming up against struggling Everton and Watford then a trip to Villa that is followed by Norwich's visit to the King Power, they look to have a decent chance of extending their fine form.

    Anyone who has followed Rodgers' career will not be surprised by Leicester's attacking improvement since his arrival. This is the manager whose forward-thinking blueprint inspired Liverpool to 101 goals in the 2013-14 Premier League season.

    They have more emphasis on retaining possession than under predecessor Claude Puel and are still adept at the quick switches of play to a rapid forward line that served Ranieri so well for a season, but also now have the extra intelligence and guile of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans.

    As a result, Rodgers' second-placed side have had the fourth-highest number of shots in the division (147) and created the fourth-highest number of chances (139).

    However, for shooting efficiency they are top of the class.

    lc1.jpg

    Such ruthlessness in front of goal is spearheaded by Jamie Vardy.

    Not only has Vardy scored more Premier League goals than anyone else this season, he's done so more efficiently than any of his main strike rivals.

    lc2.jpg

    It took a couple of goes, thanks to VAR spotting some encroaching in the penalty area, but the 32-year-old scored his side's second goal from the spot at Brighton - meaning he has netted in each game of the Foxes' current winning run.

    Many quality strikers down the years scored their goals in bursts, but Vardy's form inevitably evokes memories of the Foxes' title-winning season, when he netted in 11 straight games to overtake former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and set a new Premier League record.

    His efforts that season left him just one short of the all-time English top-flight record for scoring in consecutive games - 12, set by Jimmy Dunne of Sheffield United in 1931-32.


    lc3.jpg

    Leicester have conceded a league-low eight Premier League goals this season, with Saturday's game at Brighton their fourth consecutive clean sheet as part of a league-high six overall.

    This is no fluke. Their defensive efforts have resulted in fewer shots faced (125 - the fifth best in the division) than Liverpool (134) and a better expected goals against than Manchester City.

    lc4.jpg

    It is a record few would perhaps have predicted after they sold leading centre-back Harry Maguire to Manchester United in the summer for £80m.

    Take a bow then, Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu.

    The latter deserves particular praise. He started just four league games in 2018-19, but this season has stepped up to fill the position vacated by Maguire.

    lc5.jpg

    Don't underestimate the role played in their fine defensive record by the man who patrols the area in front of them, Wilfred Ndidi.

    The Nigeria player has made more tackles (62) and interceptions (37) than any other midfielder in the division this season.


    "We're happy, we're not shying away from anything, but I just think there are only 13 games gone."

    That was what Rodgers said when asked about his side's title credentials after Saturday's win.

    "What's really pleasing is the consistency," he added. "We arrived and they were in 12th and we wanted to improve and build on the good work that Claude [Puel] had done.

    "What's great now is that our supporters are singing: 'We're going to win the league!' in the most competitive league in the world, so that tells you where they're at, the confidence they have and the dreams that they have, which is absolutely brilliant."

    For all of the expectation-managing going on here, with a third of the season almost gone, Rodgers' side are in the title race. What is also unavoidable are the similarities with 2015-16, with Rodgers the energising force - the Ranieri to Puel's Nigel Pearson.

    Rodgers' side are actually a point better off than Ranieri's were at the same stage in 2015-16.

    lc6.jpg

    Two notable factors are working against the Foxes this time around though - their rivals are stronger than in 2015-16 and, unlike then, they will surely not be underestimated.

    And finally...
    As a little addition, Leicester's win at Brighton was one of six away victories in the top flight on Saturday.

    This is the joint second highest on a single day in Premier League history, behind only the eight on New Year's Day in 1994 - a figure aided by the fact there were 11 fixtures that day.
     
  2. Dreambeliever

    Dreambeliever From Doubter to Believer -Cashed out to Cashed Up Member

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    They won’t be anywhere near the title at the end of the season and their best players and manager will leave.

    Very impressive start and if others continue to falter to they could get top 4 but I doubt it.
     
  3. RedStar

    RedStar Well-Known Member

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    I think they will be top 4, potentially top 3 if they can keep Vardy fit for 25 more games. But the title is still going to be either us or City, nobody else is going to get 90+ points.
     
  4. Hyena

    Hyena Well-Known Member

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    They are very reliant on their first eleven, but so are we.

    I'm not sure why everyone thinks they will fall away.
     
  5. Bradley

    Bradley Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I'd prefer if they started to drop a few points sooner rather than later.
     
  6. LeTallecWiz

    LeTallecWiz Mo(ssa)d Administrator

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    Evans went off injured on Sat - what's the prognosis on that? If he's out, the defense drops a level with Wes MOrgan.
     
  7. Modo

    Modo A contentious scando Member

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    This is what I feared. I didn't think they'd get a win against Brighton away.
    They're just so effective!
     
  8. tombrown

    tombrown Very Well-Known Member

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    I think the Echo stats podcast pointed out that Leicester are massively overperforming against their expected points metric, and so inevitably will not sustain that
     
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  9. Dreambeliever

    Dreambeliever From Doubter to Believer -Cashed out to Cashed Up Member

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    Because the level of consistency needed to get the number of points they’ll need has only been done by two squads that took years to build.

    Don’t forget Spurs were within 6 last year after Xmas before falling away terribly and they are a better team.

    Leicester will fall away.
     
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  10. Insignificance

    Insignificance Bad to the bone Member

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    I am not sure they will fall away. I think they are a good candidate for the top 4. We will see what happens when xmas program get heavy on their legs as well.

    But that we are very reliant on our first XI like Leicester is a huge undervaluation of our squad. We have one of the best first XI in the world so that we miss these players when they are out is obvious. However we have a well balanced and strong squad that has provided us with the stability we see nowadays.

    We invested heavy in a top 2-3 goalie in the world, but went on to win and win and win when he was out with his replacement making important contribution to the points tally. We started the season with Matip and Lovren has come in and even if you can't say he has won us points alone he has been doing what is expected. We also have Gomez as a back up there.

    The midfield has been rotated. Fabinho didn't even play until october last season, but has been a major asset for us after that. If the games go to intensive we can easily throw in Milner to tidy it up or Keita to keep cool on the ball. If we need a goal we can add on Ox. In attack Origi has come on plenty of times winning us important points. Shaquiri has come from the bench winning us points. We have a squad filled with well trusted international capable of keeping performance level high.
     
  11. Farkmaster

    Farkmaster Very Well-Known Member

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    And at fullback, one of the most important positions in our team?
     
  12. Hansern

    Hansern SCM Addict Member

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    Leicester have a paper thin squad, but if they are lucky with injuries they can finish in the top 3. But they wont be beating us or City for the title.
     
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  13. Y1

    Y1 Klopp Kop Member

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    Everyone did not give them a chance when they won the PL.

    I think there are too many teams better this season than when they did it.

    I hope they will take points off city.
     
  14. keniget

    keniget Part of the Furniture Member

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    They had a paper thin squad when they won the title.

    I don't think we can write anyone off just yet.

    I'm more concerned about us over-achieving (relative to standard of performances) than I am about anything else.
     
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  15. Frogfish

    Frogfish Gone to Redcafe Member

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    To the contrary - many did that year as none of the established 'Top 6' were performing and many going through a very obvious transitional phase.

    But yes, they simply don't have the squad to compete for the title. 3rd or 4th is another matter.
     
  16. Insignificance

    Insignificance Bad to the bone Member

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    We don't have like for like covers at fullback. But that is quite natural. There are not many fullbacks around like our 2 ans those who could fall into the category (they are the worlds best in their position based on ESPN's recent ranking of 100 best performers by position - https://www.espn.com/soccer/blog-es...ate-our-ranking-of-worlds-best-soccer-players ) would not come as back up. We have a Joe Gomez (England international) that can vacate on either side and we have a James Milner (most assists in CL 2017/18 from LB ). So I think we need to actually accept the fact that TAA and Robbo adds a dimension to our team that we can't replicate easily. There aint none in Europe that perform like them, so what can we compain about? That we don't have 2 other fullbacks being best in the world that can fill in when they don't play?[/COLOR][/BCOLOR]
     
  17. Farkmaster

    Farkmaster Very Well-Known Member

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    Gomez is poor at fullback, and James Milner is a massive liability against any team with pace in that position, especially if it means he's playing games in quick succession.

    I expect us to have 2 other fullbacks in our squad, or at least one, rather than us immediately playing someone out of position.
     
  18. Dreambeliever

    Dreambeliever From Doubter to Believer -Cashed out to Cashed Up Member

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    You mean like Utd did week after week year after year?

    I can’t remember which commentator said it during the the Palace game but he was an ex red and he said that most season you’d hit top gear in about 8 games and the rest was just grinding out results.

    We are doing just enough every week.

    Imagine having to play us knowing even when we aren’t anywhere near our best we still score exactly when we need to without fail.

    Avoid big injuries and we’ll beat most teams which will be enough to win it.
     
  19. Insignificance

    Insignificance Bad to the bone Member

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    Gomez is poor form due to injury and lack of gametime. There has been plenty of occasions where hysterical Liverpoolfans have been calling on him to replace TAA cause TAA is supposedly a liability himself.

    But whatever the fullback situation is (obviously good enough for us to get to 2 consecutive CL finals and lossing once in the league for 1,5 seasons or so) the statement that we are very relaint on our first XI is at best debateable. I think it is just wrong.
     
  20. Y1

    Y1 Klopp Kop Member

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    Agreed. I only see City and the main threat. Would have loved it for Chelsea to draw with them. Ah well.
     
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