It is the first time that the defending champions have lost on the very first day of the Premier League, and it also looks like Leicester City’s dream fairytale run is over.
They defied all the odds last season and won the league, but this time around, it looks like all the odds are against them. Their team looked unmotivated, nervous and even their bests such as Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Drinkwater, etc., all seemed to be struggling to establish control over the game.
Ranieri built the entirety of the Foxes’ last campaign on a solid defence line coupled with stellar finishing, of which today we witnessed neither. However, this does not take away the fact that Hull City played exactly the kind of football that helped Leicester win the league last season.
Their former manager Steve Bruce has yet to be replaced and they had no new signings. In fact, perhaps their own fans did not expect Hull City would win this fixture. Phelan’s underdog squad was expected to be a walk in the park for the champions, but he had clearly prepared them well because they started on a solid foot and soon began causing Leicester problems, which they seemed unprepared to deal with.
So, what really went wrong for Leicester City?
Maybe it was the pressure of being surrounded by so many expectations. People expected them to carry forward the fairytale and perhaps even win the league again. Maybe it was the fact that they got more complacent than they should have. Maybe it was to do with luck, or maybe Leicester City were plagued by multiple problems which led to this major upset.
The most obvious problem was the absence of N’golo Kante from the midfield. The midfield was an absolute mess without him and it is clear that he impacted the Foxes’ performance a lot more than they would’ve thought.
They even missed the central defensive services of the suspended Robert Huth. They were perhaps the only team that had a well-rounded squad, but this season, it just looks shaky. They were known to perform well under pressure, but in this game, they crumbled as soon as the going got tough at Hull.
As far as absences go, Jamie Vardy might as well have been absent from the squad as he failed to recreate even half the magic he did last season. He missed the best chances and Leicester wouldn’t have equalised had it not been for the penalty. Last season, he struck 24 goals on his way to winning a Premier League title medal, and won a Euro 2016 spot.
Contrastingly, Vardy missed two first-half chances and his frustration was clearly visible. The fact that their star striker missed such chances showed its effect on the rest of the team as that’s when the nervousness seemed to kick in more.
Not just Vardy, but even Mahrez seemed to get it all wrong on their opening match. The only thing he did right was the penalty, and Leicester tried to push for a draw after Hull scored again, but the Hull defence fought back hard and kept Leicester in check.
Even Danny Drinkwater looked like he was struggling which is strange after his performance against Manchester United at the Community Shield final. When Drinkwater misses passes and messes it up, you know there is something seriously wrong for the Foxes.
However, this is just the first day and the rest of the season lays ahead. Leicester have plenty of time to pull their socks up and get their game together and do so fast, because this season they have to report for Champions League duty as well and the teams they face their can beat them ten times harder than Hull City. Every team deals with setbacks and they need to make sure that this was just a minor setback. Vardy and Mahrez need to be more focused, while the midfield needs to be tighter and more accurate.
Leicester City have a lot of thinking to do and a lot of problems to deal with before they face-off Arsenal in their home ground next. Maybe if they manage to find a solution to these issues, they can present a title-defending competition to the other teams, because this season, all the big clubs look mean and all of them are keen on winning the title!