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Leicester City: What's gone so wrong?

Sunday 12th February 2017
Well, I guess there's only one place to begin - during the summer. If there were several things Leicester needed to make sure of, it was that they did the following:

Keep Vardy (check)

Keep Mahrez (check)

Keep Kante (...)

These three players, in a team of supermen, were the MVPs. Jamie Vardy with 24 goals in only his 2nd season in the top flight and breaking the great Ruud Van Nistelrooy's record for scoring in consecutive games, (11 if you don't know) has now ironically gone that same amount of games without scoring. Riyad Mahrez, although not his striking partner certainly played a big part in Leicester's fairytale story, scoring 17 goals and getting 11 assists in a campaign garnering the award of 'Player of the Season'.
These players simply have not been faring anywhere near as well and what's difficult to comprehend is their personal stats from last season regarding runs, distance covered in games, completed dribbles, and shots-to-goals ratio is not too dissimilar from last season. In Vardy's case, based on percentages he's been more clinical this season. For Mahrez, he's simply not been able to find the space he was afforded last season. Leicester had one style of play which worked for them last season and this time it simply has not worked.

The Foxes are getting outfoxed

From the opening match of the season, something didn't seem quite right about the surprise champions. They seemed to lose their zip, the fear they didn't have last season seems to be crippling them now. Even this time last season, after dispatching Manchester City at the Etihad which became the moment where we all sat up and began to take Leicester's title credentials seriously. Now, here's where they have to buck up because relegation is looking like a serious possibility.

From Hull, with 13 fit senior players, beating them on the opening day to their recent defeat at home against Manchester United. Fans are now nervous for their Premier League status. They're one of only 4 sides in the league not to have won consecutive league matches this season, the stuff of teams in a relegation dogfight, not Europe's elite club competition.

As great a journey they have had so far in the Champions League, getting a very favorable draw in the group stages and topping said group, their league form has greatly been impacted. Half of their 24 games have been played either side of Champions League fixtures and of these dozen matches, they have a record that reads:

P12 W3 D3 L6

The enquiry comes no closer to a conclusion. This accounts for 12 of the 21 points they have amassed so far this season. They are the only team in any of the top 4 leagues in the country yet to score a league goal this year. This needs to stop. But, another thing that needs to stop is Claudio's changes; last year the Italian used 23 players across the 38 game season, and this time around he's already used 24. Throughout their title-winning season, 33 team changes were made. He went games without changing his starting XI, but so far after 24 matches, he's already made 52 changes

The Tinkerman returns

Claudio Ranieri was known as 'The Tinkerman' at Chelsea, which ultimately enabled him to reach top 4, then runners up, but he was then unceremoniously dropped for Jose Mourinho (a little harsh considering in Abramovich's debut season he came 2nd and got to the Champions League semi-finals).

But when he returned to England's elite last season, he stopped being 'The Tinkerman' and it won him and Leicester the title. The first game of their title defence rocked them and they haven't really recovered. It's destabilised them totally and there are only glimpses of the side we saw last season and as an outfit planning for the long haul, they look a shadow of their former selves.

After selling N'Golo Kante, Ranieri brought in 3 players to try and replace him. Not one of them has stamped their print on that team sheet where the Frenchman (now at Chelsea) was probably the first player on the team sheet (yes, before Vardy and Mahrez). It speaks volumes as to how important he was when he could become the first player in Premier League history to win consecutive league titles at different clubs.

Leicester need to pick themselves up before they suffer the drop...

...well, not really much else to say. They have to restart on Sunday against Swansea, they really cannot afford to lose this game otherwise, they could be making some unwanted history of their own in 14 games time. This is what makes the Premier League so amazing, only in England can a team win the league and then be in the relegation dogfight a number of months later. Truly amazing. Mahrez needs to find his twinkle toes, Vardy needs to find his shooting boots and Ranieri needs to find a system and a line-up which he'll stick to.
Tyrone Chambers

I know most people either love them or hate them but I a massive fan of Manchester United. I'm not afraid to speak the truth. Writing it as it is, bold enough to say it in the way no manager or player could say in public. I write about all things football but I love music as well, both listening and playing, keen drummer.

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