Topsy-turvy Foxes fantastic for the neutral but frustrating for the average Leicester City supporter

Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City are arguably a victim of heightened expectations, The Foxes winning the FA Cup under their ex-Liverpool head coach last campaign and securing the unlikeliest Premier League titles in 2015/16 under Claudio Ranieri.

Before Leicester were put on the map in such a way, a merry-go-round of managers saw Leicester flirt with promotion back to the top flight before falling at the final hurdle.

In the present day, Leicester find themselves ninth in the Premier League with grumbles over inconsistent form and a leaky defence stifling their true potential. Are these moaners correct? Or, with recent whirlwind successes, are Leicester coming back down to life?

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Safe to say, if you want to be entertained this season, watching The Foxes is a good bet. Just look at their recent loss at The Etihad to title favourites Manchester City, 4-0 down within a blink of an eye. Yet, with the likes of James Maddison leading the charge with trickery and skill, an unprecedented comeback nearly happened. Leicester’s skilful number 10 combined with former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho for Leicester’s opener, stroking a strike past Ederson after a breakaway move.

Leicester flexed their underdog status in this contest, a never-say-die attitude that saw them lift the Premier League a couple of seasons back. James Maddison was once again integral, retrieving the ball and dancing past the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko before passing it to Iheanacho. The Nigerian attacker turned provider once more, Ademola Lookman curling one under Ederson after a pin-point pass from Kelechi. In a frantic 10 minute spell, Leicester had made it 4-3 – Iheanacho getting in on the act himself, a James Maddison wonder-strike saved by Ederson before a scramble saw Leicester’s number 14 finish from point-blank range.

Even still, after a barrage of Leicester goals, another flurry for the home side saw the score finish 6-3. This was typical of their campaign so far, obvious quality in attacking areas let down by a makeshift defence. Brendan Rodgers and co. are still reeling from long-term absentee Wesley Fofana who suffered a broken leg in pre-season. His absence has been costly, Leicester conceding 33 from only 18 played this season.

Moreover, their defensive record from set-pieces is the worst in the division – Aymeric Laporte’s header for 5-3, which effectively ended the contest at The Etihad, was from a corner. Not even the signing of Jannick Vestergaard from Southampton has helped plug the defensive issues at Leicester, their defensive record more indicative of a relegation-threatened side than a team five points off fifth. Their defensive woes saw them bow out of the Europa League too, Napoli winning 3-2 even without Victor Osimhen present. A number of COVID-19 cases also didn’t help The Foxes in that Europa League clash, but with the likes of Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans still present, crashing out of the Europa League is another downer on their season so far.

This makes their 1-0 home win over Liverpool of recent ever more baffling, a determined display seeing the same leaky Leicester side shut-out a free-scoring Liverpool team. Kasper Schmeichel was the hero in this one, denying Mo Salah from the penalty spot before making countless saves to keep his clean sheet in-tact. The Dane was helped by another makeshift defence fielded by Brendan Rodgers, the African partnership of Daniel Amartey and Wilfried N’Didi having to keep Sadio Mane and co. quiet. They did just that, Amartey turning into a rock for the full 90 minutes with crucial blocks and tackles keeping Liverpool at bay.

Luke Thomas also excelled in this contest, a tough ask for the 21-year-old, but his relative inexperience wasn’t Leicester’s undoing. A position that needs strengthening, Ben Chilwell’s departure to Chelsea is still felt at The King Power but Thomas is making his presence known to his manager and any Leicester City doubters.

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Could this win see Leicester go on a prolonged run of form? This season has felt very stop-start for those associated with The Foxes, a win over Manchester United in early October then saw disappointing defeats to Arsenal and Chelsea at The King Power. Moreover, an emphatic win over Watford was then met with away displays that saw their defensive frailties exposed – Aston Villa’s winner in a 2-1 defeat came from another corner kick, Ezri Konsa benefitting. Leicester need to make that Liverpool victory a season-defining moment, a moment that sees sustained form blossom from that impressive win over Jurgen Klopp’s title challengers.

With the likes of Patson Daka, Caglar Soyuncu and Ricardo Pereira all still absent from the line-up through injury, Rodgers will have to rely on players such as Thomas and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to deliver. With fixtures to follow against Burnley and Brighton & Hove Albion in January – Norwich at The King Power falling victim to COVID cancellations – it will be intriguing to see if Leicester can sustain some positive form before a visit to Anfield in early February. The fixtures ahead are favourable, and with Harvey Barnes expected to be back in training imminently, Leicester could well get that consistency they desire.

Murmurs over Brendan Rodgers overstaying his welcome at Leicester have emerged and he was rumoured for the Manchester United vacancy before Ralf Rangnick was appointed. Yet, with an exciting side at his disposal down at The King Power, Rodgers will still believe he can succeed as Foxes boss. Regardless of Leicester’s fate in the coming months, the fans will continue to be vocal in pushing their makeshift side over the line. No doubt the players will respond, Leicester City very much the entertainers of the Premier League so far.

The Author

Kelan Sarson

Peterborough United supporter, football writer + current MA Journalism student at the Uni of Sheffield. Twitter account for football writing - @sarsonkelan

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