Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Leicester City Linked With Italian Defensive Rock: A Wise Choice By Ranieri?

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Sourav Bhakat
An ardent sports lover who loves to sleep, eat and watch Manchester City play. In that order.

Leicester City’s title defence has fallen flat on its face. The Foxes, who scripted history when they won the Premier League title against all odds last season, have failed to replicate the same tenacity and form in their follow-up season. The Champions League has been a bittersweet experience and although they made headlines by securing an easy passage through to the Round of 16, the added number of matches and the travelling has disrupted their rhythm in the league and the limited squad at Ranieri’s disposal has not been able to cope up with all of this.

They have lacked any spark in attack with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez horribly off colour while the rest of the team have been lacklustre. The midfield, sans Kante, has looked ordinary and at times does not look Premier League quality. The likes of Andy King and Amartey have not looked as solid or as tenacious as the Frenchman while Drinkwater has had an interrupted season thus far.

They have failed to offer a solid base for counters which has hurt them. The quick one-touch football to release the likes of Vardy and Mahrez has been missing while they have failed to put up any resistance to the opposition attacks which has resulted in the defence bearing the full brunt.

SS Lazio v US Sassuolo - Serie A

Which brings us to their defence. An integral factor in their success, especially in the latter half of the season where they were successfully shutting down teams and getting the all-important goal at the other end. The pair of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan, unkindly referred to as rejects at that point of time, rose spectacularly for the job and made all the difference providing leadership and authority and sheer dominance at the back.

While their displays were lauded, there was a nagging worry whether they could produce two seasons of that sort or not. Two 32-year olds, not known for their pace or agility, with the burden of Premier League, Champions League and the other domestic competitions, was a huge risk to take.

And the 31 goals conceded in 20 matches bears testimony to exactly that. Claudio Ranieri is clearly under pressure to turn the club’s fortunes around in the Premier League and a new central defender has been earmarked as a necessity for the Foxes if they are to retain their top-flight status.

According to reports, Francesco Acerbi is high on their wishlist.

The Sassuolo defender has formed a formidable reputation in Italy, with his ball-interception qualities deemed as his strong point. His fight and eventual win against testicular cancer show his mindset and his fighting mentality. His no-nonsense defending will be ideal for the Premier League and his long balls over the top will be ideal for players like Jamie Vardy and Musa.

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