Champions Leicester City has made a stuttering start to their title defence this season. 8 games into the Premier League and the Foxes sit in the 13th place with just 8 points on the board. The team has been disappointing in their away trips with losing all four of them and getting beaten heavily conceding four goals each at Old Trafford and Anfield and three at the Stamford Bridge.
Of the four home games so far, they have picked up eight points with wins over Swansea and Burnley and draws with Arsenal and Southampton. The cutting edge of last season seems to be missing and the overall quality has dropped sharply which has reflected in the results. The team has been totally outclassed so far and Claudio Ranieri is a man under pressure once again. The manager knows that situations needs to change very quickly and let’s look at how it can be done.
Getting the Balance Right
Leicester have spent loads of money in the summer in a bid to try and remain competitive this season and increase their squad strength with the added fixtures of the Champions League to contain with. There have been arrivals of some very decent players but so far on the field it hasn’t clicked for somewhere it has seemed that the balance is lacking. Particularly in the forward areas with Jamie Vardy showing that he is nothing more than a one-dimensional forward who just managed to score goals last season almost for fun.
Ahmed Musa has been much more incisive and intelligent with his runs but when the duo, play together they face some problems being too similar in their gameplay. Islam Slimani is a very good addition who has all the attributes to play as the target man and is very good in the air, Slimani-Vardy duo is more appropriate and acceptable and if they can get their understanding right then they can work well together, provided Jamie Vardy can start scoring goals which he hasn’t in his last 7 games being utterly poor in majority of them. The Champions League has affected the partnership though as Ranieri has had to rotate a lot.
Try And Utilise Possession Better
Last season, Leicester surprised everybody with their counter-attacking approach and their highly productive counter attacks allowed them to get the better of their opponents without having to make use of possession. High backlines and a bit of underestimation offered plenty of spaces for the players to run into and N’Golo Kante’s interception skills as well as his passing last season (81.6%) played a heavy part in the attacks being fruitful the way it suited the team.
This season, with everybody learning their lessons, there is a lot less space on offer and it has so far restricted the attacking moves heavily with opposition defences dropping deep. The problems were evident when the Foxes had to do anything with the ball and try to find out moves to open up spaces through a compact defence.
With the exception of Danny Drinkwater, others have looked out of their depth, shockingly poor in their passing. Daniel Amartey has passed the ball with the best accuracy of 85.2% but the midfielder’s passes have been mostly passive, played sideways, backwards or short forward ones which can hardly be classified as creative. Nampalys Mendy’s return could make things better.
Get His Defence Compact Once Again
In the first 8 games of the league, the Foxes have conceded 14 and scored only 8. Last season, they had problems early with their defence but gradually it got sorted and a lot tighter, something similar needs to be done now. Concentrating on defending attacks down the flanks and the set pieces will be high on the agenda, as they seem to be the major areas to work on.
Marking on the set pieces particularly from the corners has been below par and has resulted in silly goals being conceded, having a tighter defence will at least allow the team to stay relevant for the major part of a match and a tight backline can make a lot of things look better.