It may have been the greatest story of all-time in the world of football, but the sequel isn’t as entertaining. No, we’re not talking about Goal!, we’re on about Leicester City, and their disappointing start to life as reigning Premier League champions.
But despite already losing more games this time out than they managed in the whole of the 2015-16 campaign, there’s still a light, albeit a very dim one right now, at the end of the tunnel for Claudio Ranieri’s men.
Ladbrokes News takes a look at the three things Leicester need to do in order to get their season back on track.
Replicate last season’s formation with Mendy as the new Kante
It’s hard to predict exactly who’ll start nowadays for the Foxes in the Premier League. While that might be a nightmare for opposition managers, it’s also equally as frustrating for supporters.
At least last year we knew where we stood with Ranieri’s side. Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki would start up-top, Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton would feature out wide with N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater playing in the middle.
But the arrival of Islam Slimani and Ahmed Musa, coupled with the departure of Kante has mixed things up a little, only it hasn’t been for the better.
It feels as if Ranieri is trying to force certain players into the starting line-up, rather than sticking with what he knows best – and his side are suffering because of it.
One saving grace for the Italian boss is the return of Nampalys Mendy. The French midfielder was instrumental in Nice’s 4th-placed finish in Ligue 1 last campaign and arrived for less than a third of the price which Kante was sold to Chelsea for.
It’s a big ask to fill his boots, but Mendy is certainly capable of doing exactly that. Keep him fit, and Leicester could have a Kante 2.0 on their hands in the engine room, returning to full fitness just when they need him most.
Rediscover their underdog spirit
Those Premier League medals must be heavy, because right now this Leicester side are certainly playing with the weight of them on their shoulders.
It’s no surprise that the Foxes’ form has taken a dip this season – suddenly everyone wants to beat the reigning champions of the division.
But it seems strange that this team are allowing that tag to affect them psychologically, especially when you consider the amount of mental strength they showed in the second-half of last season to go on and lift the trophy, despite both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur being constantly on their tails.
Heading into games as the favourites is unfamiliar territory for Leicester in the Premier League, but it’s something they’ll have to get used to – and quick.
Perhaps a tactical change is required, as it’s clear that teams are setting out to stop Leicester from playing the direct style that they so successfully deployed last season.
It’s no coincidence that their form in the Champions League has been so impressive – bar a 5-0 crushing at the hands of FC Porto, having already topped their group, and that fearless approach is one which they should adopt domestically too.
If he doesn’t shoot, Vardy won’t score
It’s a simple science – the more shots you have, the more likely you are of finding the net.
Harry Kane averaged 4.2 shots-per-game last year, just 0.1 less than Philippe Coutinho in that table. The Spurs man finished as the league’s top scorer with 24 strikes. The year before? Sergio Aguero averaged 4.5 shots-per game and won the Golden Boot with 26 goals.
The year before that? Luis Suarez, 5.5 shots-per-game, 31 goals. Top scorer.
However, Vardy this year is averaging just 1.2 shots per-game. That’s two shots less than he was managing throughout last season.
It’s no surprise then that he’s scored just two goals this year.
The Foxes have had four penalties so far this year, and Mahrez has taken all of them. Our advice? Give the next to Vardy. Get him back in amongst the goals and reap the rewards that will inevitably come.
Up next for Ranieri’s men is the visit of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and the home side’s chances of winning will have been boosted by the absence of Fernandinho and Aguero through suspension.
Beating City for the second time in as many meetings might just kick-start Leicester’s campaign.
What do fans think? Where have things gone wrong so far for the Foxes, and what must they do to see their fortunes improve?
Have your say in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing