Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Leicester Looking To Improve

Since their triumphant Premier League title winning season of 2016, Leicester have certainly gone under the radar and back to familiar surroundings of competing for a top 10 finish. Leicester have been a breath of fresh air since their promotion back to the Premier League. However, their previous Premier League campaign was rather quiet and unnoticed overall and that certainly resonates with the quiet but well-mannered Claude Puel. Leicester securing a top half finish was a solid season overall but I’m sure the Leicester fan base would have expected more considering they have to watch Burnley secure a place in Europa League qualifying rounds. Despite this, Leicester for some parts of the season did please their fans but they did have disappointing spells as well which suggests their midtable mediocrity. Leicester will hope to have a better season this time around and challenge the top 7.

Leicester certainly relied on the talents in their squad during the season with Jamie Vardy providing the goods up front and Riyad Mahrez being the main creative spark behind him. However, with Mahrez now departing for bigger things, Claude Puel will have to shuffle his usual tactics to accommodate new signings and ideas he has for his team. Claude Puel is well respected for his work in France and had a solid season in charge of Southampton guiding them to 8th place but so far it hasn’t seemed to work for Puel and Leicester, but he will be determined to turn things around for himself and the Leicester fans. Puel attempts to incorporate a nice passing style built on a solid defence setup with the likes of Harry Maguire and Wes Morgan at the back, Leicester should be relatively solid. However, Leicester did concede some petulant goals in the previous season and this is a big issue that Puel must sort out for any success at Leicester. Furthermore, Leicester’s midfield two in front of the back 4 hasn’t been consistent throughout the previous season with constant rotation between Wilfred Ndidi, Adrien Silva, Vicente Iborra meaning a solid partnership despite some excellent individual performances in particular from Ndidi. This is another issue Claude Puel must address for his philosophies and ideas to be incorporated into the football club. Despite Leicester’s distinctly average season, Jamie Vardy continued to fire the goals for Leicester and he is vital to everything good Leicester do and its no surprise other strikers at the club struggle to break into the starting eleven. Leicester must continue to get the best out of him to have any success in the new season. There will be a determination from Puel and his coaching staff to have a much better season at the club but they will have to unite the whole football club and they can only do that by creating a team the fans can be proud off and winning football matches on a consecutive basis which they struggled to do in the previous season.

Leicester must have one of the best transfer windows in a very long time because they must replace the departed Riyad Mahrez in the right way. They must find somebody who can play in the English game and fits Leicester’s style off play. I’m sure Puel has plenty of targets in mind after banking £60 million for the Algerian international. However, they may have already signed Mahrez’s replacement before he left the club after they snapped up James Maddison from Norwich. The exciting young midfielder will certainly bring a spark to the Leicester side and new dynamic with no pressure on his shoulders to succeed. He could certainly be one to watch in the new season. However, I’m sure Claude Puel will want another player to provide the competition or go straight into Leicester’s starting eleven. Despite this, Leicester have been active in the transfer window so far and have made some very good signings including the experienced Jonny Evans and Portuguese international Ricardo Periera. However, Leicester cannot afford to lose other key players like Harry Maguire and Jamie Vardy. Puel will be desperate to keep the England internationals on board because they could find it very difficult replacing those two players. Leicester have to address their forward line because Vardy’s regular high scoring seasons, Leicester struggle without him in their forward line and with unconvincing displays of Islam Slimani, Kelechi Iheanacho and the underused Shinji Okazaki struggles when he does play. Puel will certainly be assessing his forward in the next few weeks. In addition, he will be assessing all areas of the pitch and noting anything and any area he feels needs competition or improving.

Leicester fans will be hoping for a more exciting season this time around after a dull previous campaign and top half finish should be easy enough for this talented squad. However, Puel and the fans will believe Leicester can go one better and get into the Europa League places or go on a cup run because they will certainly not be embroiled in the relegation battle. The foxes will hope to sneak into the top 7 and with the talents at their disposal, there isn’t any reason the Leicester fans cannot dream off another venture into Europe. There is always a strong spirit and unity around the whole football club and it’s a really unique feeling for those Leicester fans having seen exciting Premier League title win and relegation struggles and they will hope this season is full of excitement rather than misery.

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