Analysis

Premier League 2021/22 Season Preview: Leicester City

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For the last few years, Leicester City have been on the rise now. Ever since their stunning 2015/16 title triumph, they have been furthering their reputation and are now under genuine consideration as one of the top clubs in England. One of the best run clubs, with owners who have poured their heart and soul into it, the Leicester City football club model is an excellent example for other clubs.

Last season, their seventh consecutive season in the top-flight of English football, was a bittersweet one. While they won the FA Cup for the first time in their history and finished 5th, which is their best-ever finish since winning the title, they also crashed out of the Europa League and missed out on Champions League qualification in the last gameweek of the season for a second year running. Having been in the top four for a combined 68 weeks out of 72 in the last two seasons, the Foxes were yet again unlucky. They spent 242 days in the top four in the 2020/21 season, more than any other side, yet failed at the final hurdle and instead helped their rivals gain places.

They started as surprising title contenders last season, but injuries and dip in form meant they dropped down to challenging for the top four places. Their poor home record did not do them any favours and was a major reason as to why they missed out on UCL qualification. However, Brendan Rodgers and his men had a chance to out the league misery behind them and end the season on a high note with a win in the FA Cup final. The Foxes grabbed that opportunity and showed tremendous character to hold on for a win against a much superior Chelsea side and win the FA Cup for the first time ever.

While it was a mixed 2020/21 season, the Leicester fans will have been proud of that result. It has no doubt sowed seeds of excitement among the fans for the new season with a team that is a perfect combination of youth, talent, and experience.

SEASON EXPECTATIONS:

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Leicester City narrowly missed out on UCL qualification in the 19/20 season, and lady luck did not have their back in 20/21 season as well. Although there is not much pressure on Brendan Rodgers now, partly due to the FA Cup win and the fact that injuries almost derailed their season, missing out on third season in a row would be seen as a failure. The team have already suffered a blow with the injury of Wesley Fofana in a pre-season game, and they face a test to replace him before the transfer window ends as the defender is set for a lengthy time on the sidelines.

Leicester City will be expected to carry on from last season and challenge for the top 4, while also putting their European woes from last season behind them and looking forward to going as deep as they can into the tournament, and will no doubt be aiming to win it. They have arguably one of the best squads outside of last season’s top four, and should aim to finish in it this time around. The Europa League presents them with a wonderful opportunity to play in the UCL next season as well. The Foxes fans will be hoping and expecting for a better showing in the latter end of the season, as Leicester City have trailed off at the end for two seasons in a row.

AREA OF IMPROVEMENT:

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The team had a very poor home record last season, and that will be one of the key areas of improvement for the 21/22 Premier League Season. With a miserable record of 9 losses and a draw at home from 19 games, they were one of the worst sides at home in the top half of the table. It was another reason they crashed out of the UEL, as they earned a 0-0 draw away, but lost 2-0 at home against Slavia Prague. This poor record will no doubt be on Rodgers’ mind and he will be working to better that record for the upcoming campaign.

Another issue that came to the fore last season was the squad depth, especially in defense, where they suffered injuries. Injuries to starting right back Ricardo Pereira and then to back-up right-back James Justin forced Rodgers to play with 3 at the back. However, it seems they have cracked down upon that issue with the signing of experienced defender Ryan Bertrand, who is a left back but allows Castange to move right, if and when needed.

KEY PERIOD (GAMEWEEK 15 to 20)

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The month of December is always tricky for clubs, and the fixture list is doing Leicester no favours, with a very difficult run of games. Starting with Aston Villa away from home, they then have two home games in a row as they host Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspurs at the King Power Stadium. They are once again on the road in the next game week, with visits to Everton and Manchester City. They then return home to close the run of hectic games with a clash against Liverpool. All teams prove to be very difficult opposition and Rodgers’ will have to come up with a plan to avoid injuries while making the most use of the available players.

While this is one of the most crucial periods for the Foxes, the last few gameweeks of the season will also be very important with their tendency to face a dip in form at the end of the season. The top four battles usually carry out till the very last game of the season, and Leicester City will have to maintain their momentum till the end.

KEY PLAYER: Youri Tielemans

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His wonder goal was the reason for Leicester City’s FA Cup final win against Chelsea, and that moment was more than enough to prove the Belgian’s importance at the heart of the club’s midfield. He has been a vital cog for the Foxes ever since he arrived at the King Power stadium. Tielemans has formed a formidable partnership alongside Wilfried Ndidi in the Leicester City midfield, which has led many to claim them being one of the best midfield duos in the league.

He is key to the team’s build-up play and has a remarkable vision which helps him pick out a run. While his attacking play is crucial to the team, he is very solid defensively as well. His through balls and crosses are a sight to behold and just twenty-four years of age, he looks like a complete player. Tielemans is undoubtedly one of the underrated Leicester stars and will be a key player for next season as well.

REALISTIC LEAGUE GOAL:

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While Leicester City have a good squad, this season will be much more competitive than the earlier one. They will have to be consistent if they want to finish in the top four, although it looks unlikely. Their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League is through the Europa League and that will be the Foxes’ main aim. With rivals like Aston Villa and Arsenal already investing in new signings to challenge for the top 4 places, they likely finish the season in 5th or lower.

MUST READ: FPL 2021/22: Leicester City Preview | Fantasy Premier League

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