Looking back at the 2015/16 Premier League season, there were many stories that came to light; including the meteoric rise of Tottenham Hotspur (still 3rd), Wenger’s recurring failed title challenge and Chelsea’s abysmal defence of their title, not to mention the arrivals of Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola to the league.
The main story that will be remembered long after the event, will be the miracle that is Leicester City. A year on from successfully battling what seemed to be an inevitable relegation, they were crowned Premier League champions under Claudio Ranieri, a remarkable achievement for a club of this size and a manager who was sacked after losing to Faroe Islands.
Fast forward a few months from that momentous occasion, and the “miracle” tagline for last season seems to be appropriate – the Foxes are sitting dangerously 1 point above the relegation zone, with the team’s league performances looking more Championship than Champions’ League and are the not-so-proud owners of the worst away record in the league.
In my opinion, I think there are a few key points as to why they are slipping down towards the 2nd tier of English football. Firstly, the loss of Kanté in the summer was immense. The man is literally EVERYWHERE on the football pitch, so not having him in their ranks has had a massive negative effect, especially because they still try and play the same 4-4-2 system. Leaky tap in the defence, anyone?
Even if we disregard this loss, most of the current squad were Champions of England last season. Saying they were shadows would be an understatement to just how poorly they’ve performed. Captain Morgan looks like he’s been drinking a few shots of them in most games this season, Vardy and Mahrez have taken a leaf out of Özil’s book and disappeared, and Danny Drinkwater is back to being funny name rather than a quality act in the centre of midfield.
The Champions’ League scheduling along with the Tinkerman’s (suggestive, I know) changes to the starting XI have also had an adverse impact, with the team only picking up 1 point out of 18 in the Premier League games they had before their 6 Champions’ League group matches. Maybe if he stuck with a consistent XI, the players would be able to gather some form and turn that into more victories. It’s somewhat remarkable that their poor league form didn’t affect their ability to reach the last 16 of the Champions’ League, and a 2-1 loss away to Sevilla yesterday is definitely something to build on for Ranieri’s men.
It was always gonna be a struggle for Leicester to come close to the achievements they had last season, but this fall from grace is quite spectacular. One silver lining they have is that almost the same group of players in the squad battled against relegation back in 2015, so they know what is required. They just need to find the belief from their manager and each other.
Although, it would be pretty jokes if they were the first team to win the Champions’ League and be relegated in the same season. One for the neutrals, probably not something UEFA would be big fans of though.