The Leicester View
Ahead of the trip to take on Leicester City this weekend, TEB had a chat with the guys at the popular First4LCFC fan group to find out about their season so far and thoughts ahead of this fixture.
Q. How has the season been for Leicester so far?
Predictably unpredictable. We always knew that this was going to be a season of transition as Claude Puel seeks to change us from an ageing side who had become overly reliant on the counter attack into one that is more comfortable in possession. In many ways he has been a success. We have moved on a lot of the “deadwood” within the squad and replaced them with young, exciting players – in fact, our starting eleven is the youngest in the league. The development of some of these players, especially Ben Chilwell and James Maddison has been great to see, and Puel must take some credit here. In certain games we have been fantastic too, the results against Chelsea and Manchester City were no flukes.
However, our main problem has been a severe lack of consistency in our results, especially at home. Certain sides have turned up and set out to frustrate us by playing 10 or 11 men behind the ball knowing that we were a side that was dangerous on the counter but unable to packed defences down. For much of the season this has been the case, and losses like the one at home to Cardiff City really epitomised this, as we looked completely bereft of ideas and craft which has caused not inconsiderable frustration within our fanbase.
In the last few games we’ve shown so much promise, against Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs we were fantastic for much of the game, playing with confidence, verve and creating chance after chance but crucially lacking that final touch, coming away with no points when in reality we deserved much more. But we need to start picking up points and the next six games is likely to not only define our season, but also the future of the manager.
Q. What did you make of the game at Selhurst Park earlier in the season?
We were tactically, completely outdone. We dominated the ball but struggled to create anything of note, I think Vardy hit the post but that was about it. Then Milivojevic popped up with a wonderful goal and Palace defended their lead admirably. I seem to remember James McArthur being a stand out player which says a lot about the game, but credit to Palace for executing their game plan perfectly.
Q. What are your hopes for the rest of the season?
We’ve had a rough run of fixtures but still managed to pick up a few points and I am hoping the game against Spurs was something of a turning point, as the addition of Youri Tielemans seemed to make a massive difference. Our next game against a side in the top six doesn’t come until the end of April, so on paper we have a brilliant opportunity to pick up some points, but we’ve actually looked better against the top sides so I have no idea what to expect! Ideally I would like us to finish top half, consolidate our position and give ourselves the best possible platform for next season.
Q. How is the general mood around the club after the terrible events earlier in the season?
It was an incredibly emotional time for everyone connected to the club and our city. Everyone came together to show their support and in many ways we saw the absolute best of the footballing community at one of the worst possible times for our club. The support shown by fans of clubs up and down the country was incredible, but, there is no doubt that the shockwaves from the tragedy had an impact on the players, staff and fans. Now however, there seems to be a real determination to play in Vichai’s memory, as he would’ve wanted.
Q. Who has been the stand out Leicester player this season?
As I’ve said previously consistency has been a real issue for us, and no one player has managed to maintain stand out levels of performance for the whole season. That being said, Maddison has shown exactly why we forked out £25million on a 21 year old that had yet to play in the Premier League. Excellent at operating in between the lines and with a fantastic set-piece delivery, he has been one of our most potent attacking outlets.
I would also like to make mention of Ricardo Periera who has flown under the radar a bit. The right-back was relatively cheap at around £20million but has been one of the key players in our transition, and has been something of a revelation.
Q. Did Leicester do the business they needed to in the transfer window?
He’s only played one game for us so far, but Youri Tielemans looks like exactly what we needed. Our biggest problem was in the centre of midfield. Wilfred Ndidi and Nampalys Mendy are both terrific defensively, but don’t have the guile to unlock a defence. Tielemans managed to do this ten minutes into his debut and carried on all game, he was our best outlet and produced a mature performance which belied his 21 years. We are still light in the forward department, with Iheanacho thus far unable to step up when Vardy is absent, but it was always going to be tough to solve this issue in the January window.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player for Leicester to sign in the summer, who would it be and why?
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the obvious choice after a fantastic break-out season. He’s played like a seasoned pro and it’s absolutely no surprise to see him linked with the top clubs.
Q. Name a player from each side that you believe will be a threat in this game?
From Leicester, I think Jamie Vardy will have a point to prove after being dropped for last game and will be looking to play off Tielemans and Maddison.
From Palace, Leicester are the gift that keep on giving so if Michy Batshuyai is going to score his first Palace goal this could well be the game, but I will be keeping an eye on Andros Townsend.
Q. Perhaps you could share your opinions on Palace this season?
Talking of inconsistent seasons! The first half was dire and I’ll readily admit that I thought you were in massive trouble. However, I’ve completely changed my mind now. Roy Hodgson seems to have turned you into a side that are hard to break down and rarely fail to score – a brilliant combo. I think that anything between 10th-13th would be a success after the start you had, and is certainly achievable.
Q. Your prediction?
I’ve got to be optimistic haven’t I? I think both sides will try to play a bit, and hopefully we can redress the balance as you’ve certainly enjoyed this fixture recently! I’ll say 3-2 to Leicester, but in all honesty quite literally anything could happen.