Leicester fans are still holding warm memories of their fairytale Premier League-winning campaign in 2015/2016. The Foxes were absolutely stunning that season, with romantic Italian manager Claudio Ranieri leading his team to the ultimate-shocking result – champions of England.
Can Leicester rewrite the fairytale?
Nobody in their right mind had expected before the start of the season that Leicester would be second in the standings and with a chance to challenge for the title.
Well, maybe their fans were enthusiastic, but I doubt they predicted more than a top 6 finish…which is still probably a logical argument since there’s a long way to go to the end of the campaign.
Brendan Rodgers has a very strong squad at his disposal. Leicester dismantled Southampton 9-0, which equaled the 24-year-old record for the biggest ever Premier League victory. And it’s not just that. The Foxes defeat Tottenham and Arsenal at home, while narrowly losing to Manchester United and Liverpool away (1:0, 2:1).
The biggest test for Rodgers’ squad will probably come around Christmas when Leicester are facing Manchester City (away) and Liverpool (home) in two consecutive matches.
And even, if they don’t win both matches, a lot of times by beating all the rest of the teams and drawing/losing against the top 4 sides, you can win the title. That’s the kinda the way Leicester did it their glory season. They conceded two losses to Arsenal and were defeated against Liverpool, drawing games with Man Utd, Man City, and Chelsea.
Leicester 2015/16 vs. Leicester 19/20
After the same amount of matches in 2015, Leicester was sitting at 3rd place in the table with 7 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss. Right now, they’re 2nd placed – 8 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses. This means they are even 1 point above their standing back then.
Of course, they would go on to only lose 3 games in the faithful season, while drawing a handful of 12. The 81 points that were sufficient for them to grab the Premier League title in 2015/16 would only hand them 3rd place in last year’s campaign which saw Man City win with 98 points and Liverpool finish 2nd with 97.
Well, this season things look a bit differently. City have already conceded 3 losses and while Jurgen Klopp’s team is yet to be defeated and only drew 1 game, there is still a lot of time and too many games left. An injury crisis or just the overburden of playing a game every 3 days, or even 2 games for 2 days, will take it’s toll eventually and Liverpool is probably going to lose points here and there.
In terms of players, the Foxes are surrounded by fantastic talent. Veterans like Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel have been solid all around the past couple of years and young acquisitions like James Maddison, Çağlar Söyüncü, and Youri Tielemans are leaving a huge impression.
This is actually quite reminiscent of Ranieri’s team that had the likes Riyad Mahrez and N’golo Kante, both of which now play for supposedly bigger teams. And, of course, Leicester has kept following their strategy of buying and developing young players, both domestic and from abroad, which has shown remarkable results.
In fact, Leicester from 2019 is probably stronger than Leicester from 2015.
To think that they sold Harry Maguire in the summer, which was thought to be a big weakening of the team. Yet, the Foxes had no problems establishing their defense with the likes of experienced center back Johnny Evans and young Turkish international Çağlar Söyüncü shinning at the back.
Who else is in Leicester from the ‘Golden’ team?
The Foxes have a stable amount of 8 players that are still with the club after winning the Premier League. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is already a club legend having 347 games for the club. Wes Morgan is still captain of the club. Hot prospect Ben Chilwell failed to make a league appearance that season but has since progressed a lot. Daniel Amartey played 5 games in the 15/16 campaign. Marc Albrighton was a first-team regular, playing in every league game. Demaray Gray made a dozen appearances. Matty James missed the entire season due to injury. Jamy Vardy finished as second-highest goalscorer with 24 goals in 36 appearances.
Can Leicester really win the PL again?
Brendan Rodgers would probably be the first person to cool down such ideas. It’s only natural, after all, even after winning the division once, Leicester is still not a major club. Not considered a top 4 club, to be more precise. This means that it will still come as a big surprise if the Foxes even manage to qualify for the Champions League.
These are all factors in their favor. No pressure, no expectations. They can just continue playing their normal game and see what happens. Another big plus would be their lack of European football. No extra matches in the Champions League or League Europa, the focus goes solely on the Premier League and domestic competitions.
In the end, do not hurry to banish Leicester from the title picture. They might be outsiders, but so they were in 2015/2016 and we all know how that ended.