Inside Track: Leicester City

By SFC Media Fri 30 Sep Leicester vs Saints

Get the lowdown on reigning champions Leicester City from journalist Rob Tanner ahead of Saints visit to the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

How would you assess Leicester City’s start to the season?

It’s been a complete contrast really as they’ve been excellent at home but the away form has been out of character compared to last season.

It started off with a defeat against Hull City where they looked a bit tired and didn’t have that usual zip about them that people were so used to seeing.

Defeats at Liverpool and Manchester United also came on the road and conceding from corners is also something that didn’t really happen that often.

I think N’Golo Kanté has been a huge loss because he used to do the running of two people in midfield and it has got people questioning whether Claudio Ranieri can continue with the flat 4-4-2 system away.

Daniel Amartey has been given the chance to fill the void and he was the man of the match in the 2-0 win over FC Porto but he probably needs help in there.

After last year’s title-winning success, what would you say the ambitions are for the season?

I think what happened last year changed the face of the Premier League forever. The elite were embarrassed in many ways by a club like Leicester, who didn’t just win the league but won it by a clear margin of 10 points.

It was a fairytale campaign and I think while it has made it tougher for City, because all the big clubs have now had to respond, it has also given the belief to other clubs that they can achieve similar.

It might even add a bit of pressure because owners of clubs of a similar size to Leicester will be thinking ‘why can’t we do that?’.

I think if the Foxes can finish in the top 8 and get to the knockout stages of the Champions League, which they’re well on their way to doing, it would be another wonderful season.

Two wins out of two in the Champions League has been great but people forget that before winning the league, they were bottom for months!

It looked like they were going down so they’ve come a long, long way in a short space of time.

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri/Action Images

What’s the style of play and has it been tweaked at all?

It has been pretty much exactly the same as last season. The only slight change is with the arrival of Islam Slimani.

Shinji Okazaki was playing behind Jamie Vardy and almost dropped in to make a five-man midfield at times with his work ethic, whereas Slimani is more an out and out target man.

The plan is still to get the ball forward early and use the pace of Vardy in behind, and with wingers like Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton providing ammunition for Slimani, it could be really effective.

Who have been the star performers so far?

Islam Slimani has scored three goals in two home games but he’s mirrored the side in many ways.

His form has been brilliant at home but he hasn’t replicated that on the road so far, although I thought he played well at Club Brugge in the Champions League.

What kind of game are you expecting on Sunday?

I’m expecting it to be a very tough one for Leicester. Everyone saw the demolition of West Ham at London Stadium last weekend and Charlie Austin is in-form.

He’s a striker that Leicester know all about as they tried to sign when he was at QPR but they have a bid rejected.

I think what the Foxes will have learnt from the last season is that Saints have a physical team, and the Foxes have been susceptible in recent games from set pieces.

José Fonte and Virgil van Dijk were both on the scoresheet at St Mary’s last season in the 2-2 draw so they’ll have to stand up to the physical threat.

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