The pressure of being the title defenders in the Premier League seems to be imposing a mammoth burden. Being the defending champions at the time, Chelsea succumbed quite early last season as Leicester City flabbergasted the football fraternity with a fairy tale like campaign. The Foxes lifted the title, of course, but after eight games this season, we could accumulate that they haven’t picked up where they left off.
Once the hangovers wear off, the reality of the actual pressure sets in. So is the case with Leicester City’s dismal and unappreciative title defence. They are finding it really troublesome to find their feet once again, after having those champagne celebrations a few months back.
Claudio Ranieri’s men have been hoisting the white flag prior to giving a commendable fight to the opponents, and that is a point of concern. The damning downward trajectory is a blend of a set of reasons and we highlight some of the probable ones.
Exit of N’Golo Kanté
To absorb the loss of N’Golo Kanté has been painstakingly unbearable for Ranieri. The way the Frenchman bossed the midfield and imposed himself as the driving force in Leicester City’s title winning season hasn’t been replicated in the remotest manner at his former club after his departure.
The void is evident, so is the lack of supply and support from the midfield to the attackers. Chelsea lured Kanté and to worsen the wound, he proved to be the difference in the Pensioners’ 3-0 win over the Foxes last weekend.
Lack of resilience at the back
The defensive shield, which was so impenetrable and stubborn, looks bereft of confidence, soundness and stability this time around. They conceded 36 goals in the league last season; and in 8 games this season, they have already conceded 14 goals. If we are familiar with mathematics, it won’t be hard to decipher that they would concede around 66 goals this season if the abysmal trend doesn’t cease to exist.
The pack of four at the back, comprising of Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs and Danny Simpson haven’t clicked at all, one of their prime vulnerability being the set pieces. There is evidently something seriously wrong at the back which needs to be addressed before it gets too late to amend.
The tactical crash
The tactics encoded by the 64-year-old manager have been decoded quite comprehensively by the opponents this season. What Leicester City advocate is the employment of sitting back and hitting the opponents on the counter.
They were defensively resolute, would sit back and wait for the commission of an error from the opponents, get the possession back and then go all guns blazing to crack them down with the lethality of Riyadh Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.
This season, the teams they have faced in the league have done their homework adequately, having learned the Foxes’ style of play and thus, providing resistance. As a consequence, the Italian has been running short of ideas as his predominant tactical nous are failing him miserably.
Now that there are Champions League commitments to cater to as well, acquainting himself and his team with the busy schedule has a say on Leicester’s performance as well. They might have started their European outings in a grand manner (again, they are unfamiliar to the European sides), but callousness in the domestic league has dented their prospects.
The physical and mental fatigue coming from Champions League isn’t deniable for all the sides, and Leicester City are no exception. Maybe their priorities have doubled, and thus, the distractions are haunting their fixtures in the league.
Statistics Credits: Squawka