Leicester have had a fabulous start to the season, which is even more surprising when you consider many pundits had them down as one of the three to go down after Claudio Ranieri was appointed. The Italian has had a mixed record in management during his career, with his failure with the Greece national team being a particular low point as he oversaw losses to both Northern Ireland and the Faroe Islands. However, he has still managed some of the best clubs in Europe and that experience has allowed him to guide Leicester to 3rd place in November. Even the most optimistic Leicester fan wouldn’t have seen that happening.
The Foxes have only lost one game this season, which is the least in the league alongside Tottenham, showing that they are tough to beat. They have an incredible team spirit, which has seen them take a large share of their points from losing positions. The match that they lost was against Arsenal and the Gunners played very well on the day. It’s the matches against the likes of Crystal Palace and Southampton that will give Leicester fans hope that they can have a good season, as these clubs are all challenging for the top eight. Ranieri’s men beat Palace and got a point away to Southampton. These are excellent results and it’s easy to see the effect that confidence is having on the squad.
Jamie Vardy has been the most improved player in the Premier League since last season. In his first full season in the top flight, he was a hard working attacker, who was a useful part of the side, but he wasn’t going to fire Leicester to safety. However, something has clicked, and he is now the top scorer in the league with eleven. He has scored in the last eight Premier League games, which has only been matches by Ruud van Nistelrooy and Daniel Sturridge. It’s too soon to talk about Vardy moving to a bigger club, but if he continues to score goals, Leicester will stay in the right half of the table.
Another impressive stat about Leicester is that they are the only team in the top flight to score in every single league game. The likes of Riyad Mahrez, Marc Albrighton, Vardy and Shinji Okazaki have been really good so far, with some of the link up play in the final third being Champions League quality. Mahrez and Vardy have taken most of the plaudits, but as a unit, Leicester are very good at creating chances. They play a high intensity game and it’s hard to deal with, especially late on in games, which is why they get so many points from losing positions.
The next two months will be interesting as they have to face Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City. If they come into 2016 still in the top eight then they have to be considered serious contenders for a European place. I’d still expect them to slip down the table as the season progresses, but it’s difficult to rule them out of the top eight picture. The January window will be key for the club as they have the opportunity to add a couple of quality players to give the squad fresh impetus going into the second half of the season.