A Season on All Fronts – Can Leicester Compete in England & Europe?
Even after the title-winning season of 2016, Europa League football doesn’t look too bad for a club like Leicester. It’s European football, and another chance to go far in the competition and secure a spot in the big one – the Champions League. Sure, it’s disappointing considering they spent 92% of last season in the top four and were pipped to the post by United at the final hurdle. However, competing on all fronts isn’t something clubs should take for granted, even though the likes of Liverpool and City make it appear easy. After all, Leicester have had their ups and downs since the 2020/21 campaign began.
The ins and outs of Summer Signings
Leicester didn’t seem to be in great shape before a ball was kicked. Yes, the likes of Cengiz Under, Timothy Castagne and Wesley Fofana were added to the squad, yet the Foxes lost some big names, including Ben Chilwell. Not only did they lose their iconic left-back, but he went to Chelsea, a team Leicester will have to battle if they want to finish the season in the top four. If the Premier League betting didn’t look healthy in September, it is better now. With huge wins over rivals, including a 5-2 victory over Man City at the Etihad and a 1-0 win away at Arsenal, Leicester are currently 4/1 to place in the top four. They’re 6/4 to be in the top six, which goes to show how well the new players have gelled in such a short space of time.
A Back Three
Rodgers was known for a back three during his time at Liverpool, and he also used the formation to powerful effect at Celtic. However, until recently, he decided against using the strategy full-time, instead opting to utilise it in certain games. It appears as if the 2020 campaign is when Rodgers will revert to what he knows, considering how often the Foxes have set up with wing-backs, and the squad at his disposal. There’s no doubt they are defender heavy, with the likes of James Justin, Ricardo Pereira, Christian Fuchs and Castagne among Leicester’s full-back options. Plus, Daniel Amartey looked solid on his return, especially against Pep Guardiola’s men. Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans are very solid in the centre-half positions, allowing Rodgers to use the speed of the left and right-sided defenders, as well as Amartey, to plug the gaps in the defence.
While they beat Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League, the good results against the big boys have been marred by poor performances at home to West Ham and Aston Villa. On the pitch, the first XI is very competitive, especially with Youri Tielemans cultured play pulling strings in the middle of the park. Yet, Leicester are short from a playmaker perspective, and one injury could derail their entire season.
Ünder has been sensational, so too Maddison, but both play further up the field and require someone like Tielemans to get the ball to their feet to create opportunities for Jamie Vardy. Plus, this goes without saying – Vardy is pivotal. Without him, they lose the firepower to keep up with everyone else as he started the season strongly with six goals in his first five games.
Leicester can compete, particularly as their summer signings have hit the ground running, highlighted by fantastic performances against big clubs. However, the squad lacks in crucial areas, and an injury or two could leave them exposed in either competition.