What’s happening with Leicester City?
Last season, Leicester City stunned the soccer world when they did the seemingly impossible by winning the English Premier League. This season, however, the Foxes sit just a point above the relegation zone, with only 3 points separating them from last place. Considering how successful they were last season, most assumed that they would finish at least mid-table this season, but that has clearly not been the case. So what has gone wrong for Leicester? There are multiple things that seem to have contributed.
The first and most obvious being the departure of French midfielder N’Golo Kante. After a season where many considered him to be the best midfielder in the Premier League, he made a big-money move to Chelsea, during the summer transfer window. Without Kante, Leicester does not have a player on their roster who can do what Kante did, who just as much an enforcer as he was a ball-winner, and was excellent at both. Another thing that has hurt Leicester this season has been the apparent lack of chemistry between Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy. Last season, Vardy and Mahrez seemed to always know where the other was on the pitch, leading to a dangerous attacking duo, but this season, they just seem out of sync. There was a stretch this season, between September and December, where Mahrez had only completed 1 pass to Vardy during the 3-month stretch (yes, you read that right).
Another possible reason is putting too much focus on the Champion’s League, and not enough on the Premier League. While Leicester has flopped in the Premier League, they have flourished in the Champions League, finishing with a record of 4-1-1 in Group Stage, and winning Group G. They will now face Sevilla in the Round of 16 on February 22nd, so most of their focus will likely go towards that matchup, with the Premier League likely taking a back-seat until the Foxes are eliminated from the competition. They should definitely focus on the the Champions League, but perhaps putting too much focus on the competition has guaranteed that they will not take part in next year’s edition.
It also may be the lack of the spirit they showed last season that has put the Foxes in this position. Last season, their fighting spirit was unparalleled, with every ounce of their energy seemingly going towards getting a point or three on that particular day. Last season they grinded out results with passion and heart, but this season, they seem almost lethargic at angry at themselves. Are the reasons why Leicester City is struggling this season or is there another reason for their steep decline this season? You decide.