It’s been a mixed start to the season for the Champions. A fine start to life in Europe has been overshadowed by inconsistent form domestically. Already having lost 3 games this season in the league, the amount for the whole of last season, it’ safe to say it’s been a slow start from the foxes who were so fast out the blocks this time last year.
So what’s the issue ? Well many would probably point to the absence of N’Golo Kanté. Swapping the Midlands for London over the summer, the French international jumped at the chance to work with Antonio Conte at Chelsea. Arguably the signing of the season, Kanté was one of the key men in Leicester’s title-winning team of last year. Making 175 tackles (31 more than anyone else) and 156 interceptions (13 more than anyone else) in the 2015/2016 premier league season, everyone could see how important he was to the Foxes. Now he’s gone and you can clearly see the void left in front of the defence. Conceding 11 goals already this season, including 4 at Old Trafford and 5 at Anfield, the defence doesn’t look as water tight as it did and a lot of that is to do with the lack of protection in front, the role Kanté performed with such ease.
Kanté joined Chelsea for £32 million last July
On the other hand, despite the loss of Kanté, Ranieri managed to retain the services of all the other members of the title-winning squad. Leicester repelled Arsenal in their pursuit of both Mahrez and Vardy over the summer and the two both ended up signing new contracts. However, for whatever reason, it’s not happening for the big names this time around. Vardy and Mahrez were the league’s most feared pairing last season scoring goals for fun between them. This season their luck seems to have changed. Vardy has only managed 2 league goals this season whilst his counterpart Mahrez isn’t having the influence of last year with arguably his best performances coming in Europe. Ranieri has tried to take the burden off them with new signings but other than £25 million man Islam Slimani, the rest have failed to really make much of an impact.
I think everyone expected Leicester not to hit the heights of last season without any disrespect, but I think maybe they expected to still see the energy Leicester showed. At times they look flat and devoid of confidence which is a strange thing to say considering they are the English Champions. They aren’t the only team to enter a lull following the premier league title, why only last season Chelsea made a dismal attempt at retaining their title undergoing their worst season in recent times. Leicester’s fall from grace isn’t as severe as Chelsea’s, not even close especially as many predicted they might not do as well this time around. Even though I’m sure Ranieri will be disappointed with the start they have made. There is no way Leicester are in with a relegation shout, there are far worse teams than them, but I’m sure they expect more from themselves. It is after all only 7 games in they have plenty of time to rectify it and I’m fairly confident they will. Who knows, they might even end the season with the European crown … now that would be special.