Leicester City’s last season’s dream run, is slowly but certainly looking like the toughest act to follow in modern football. Claudio Ranieri’s tactics seemed to have been found out, and there needs to be a clear change of strategy for Leicester to shock and awe the league in equal measure. The following 3 point plan could do just that.
#1 Bin The Two Man Midfield
Just because it works for once season, doesn’t quite guarantee that’d work the next, even if Leicester didn’t lose N’Golo Kanté to the riches of Chelsea. Teams have figured out a way to counter the throwback formation that took everyone by surprise the past season. In the match against Liverpool, the pair of Daniel Amartey and Danny Drinkwater were boxed in by the square of Jordan Henderson, Genie Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana and Bob Firmino. What resulted was a sight, not a pretty one for Leicester fans, as Jürgen Klopp openly declared, by a show of the tactics he employed vs Claudio Ranieri, that it was Fox season.
Last night, the young Italian pretender to the throne, took a leaf out of the gregarious German’s book, and cornered the Leicester midfield by using the 4-man-press; more effectively, after Chalobah was subbed on, and Fabregas was let out of his leash and he ran riot, while the Leicester midfield was preoccupied.
#2 Play Slimani and Ahmed Musa
With Jamie Vardy out of sorts and Leicester having to maximise their goal scoring threat, it’s crucial that their record signings, Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani start together to give them the best chance of winning a game. The big-man, little-man combination is the way to go. The former Sporting man, who is equally at ease of playing his back to goal, as he is leading the line, could bring out the best of Riyad Mahrez and Ahmed Musa, both of whom being players who relish running in behind.
Ranieri did try pairing up Musa and Vardy early on, to no good effect, and it made the 5’7” former CSKA Moscow man, who is practically, the same mold of player as Vardy, play with his back to goal, instead of being the last man, on the shoulders of the defender, an area, as displayed by his raids against Barcelona in pre-season, where he is at his most dangerous.
#3 Adopt The Italian 3-5-2
In order to tick off the two aforementioned boxes, i.e. to play with two strikers, and have three in the middle, Claudio Ranieri, the wizened Italian will have to take a step back, and reacquaint himself with his Italian roots of the variant, and the varied catenaccio [‘the door bolt’], the 3-5-2. Doing so, like his compatriot, Walter Mazzarri at Watford, he’ll give himself and his team the best chance of fully facilitating the talent at his disposal, and bring the best out of his players.