The Inside Track: Leicester City

By SFC Media Fri 20 Jan Saints vs Leicester
Photo by Reuters | Leicester City

The Premier League champions visit St Mary's this Sunday, so we got the lowdown on the Foxes from Leicester Mercury journalist Rob Tanner.

After such an incredible 2015/16 season, how would you sum up this campaign so far for Leicester?

It has been a real mixed bag. While the Champions League has been a wonderful adventure and another great success story, the form in the league has been alarming. City set new records for a team on debut, in qualifying from their Champions League group with a game to spare, and, until their hammering in Porto in the last group game, they had only conceded one goal in their first five games.

Now they have a last-16 tie with Sevilla to look forward to. Their focus was on the Champions League because it was so unique and seen as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but that has had an impact on their league form and it is no coincidence that they went into European ties on the back of league defeats. Now they are starting to recover from that, but there remain genuine concerns they will get sucked into a relegation dogfight.

What’s the current form like?

Better. They were well beaten by Chelsea last week, but before that they had started to show signs of getting back to basics, especially away from home. It has been tough this season because injuries and suspensions have robbed them of key players Jamie Vardy, Kasper Schmeichel and Danny Drinkwater at times, while Riyad Mahrez has been off form and the new signings have taken time to settle. However, they won at Everton in the FA Cup and that has given everyone more confidence.

Is the team’s approach and style of play any different to last season?

City tried to carry on with the same system that served them so well last season, but teams now know what to expect and were able to nullify that threat. They have recently switched to a 4-3-3 away form home, with new signing Wilfred Ndidi and Papy Mendy coming into the team to support Drinkwater in midfield. That has given the back four more protection and they now try to hit teams on the break with the pace of Vardy and Ahmed Musa. It is a subtle twist on their approach from last season.

Why do you think results have been hard to come by away from home?

A big factor has been the sale of N’Golo Kante to Chelsea. He was brilliant at breaking up opposition attacks so City could spring onto the counter attack. Mahrez hasn’t been himself this season either, and that has meant the service to Vardy hasn’t been there. Also, City were great at getting into a lead and defending it, but this season they have rarely gone ahead and, when they have conceded, they have quickly let in a second, which has left them with mountains to climb. Confidence has then been hit.

Who would you say are the key men for Leicester this weekend?

The key men are the same as last season. If City can get some service into Vardy, they will be dangerous. They rely on Drinkwater to influence the midfield and skipper Wes Morgan, who has played every match, and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel make up the spine of the team, but Saints fans should look out for 20-year-old Ndidi in midfield, who has looked really good since his arrival, and Demarai Gray if he features. He is a very exciting wide player.

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