From Premier League winners to relegation contenders, things have gone drastically wrong at the King Power Stadium – and in record time.
Sunday’s 3-0 home loss to Manchester United has left Claudio Ranieri’s side just two points off the bottom of the table and facing a relegation battle just nine months after they battled their way to Premier League glory.
So, where has it gone wrong? We take a look at four things that are different this season and need to change fast.
Arguably the biggest difference between this season and last is the form of last season’s top scorer Jamie Vardy. With just five goals in the league, three of them coming in the same game against Manchester City, Vardy is a shadow of the lethal hitman who was scoring for fun last season. Every striker has a dry spell now and again, but Vardy’s drought is now approaching Biblical proportions.
Failing to scored in 23 of his last 24 games seems to indicate that this is something more than just a run of bad luck. He badly needs a goal, and quickly.
Riyad Mahrez, so often the provider for Vardy last season, has also looked out of sorts for most part of the season and will need to recapture his devastating form of last season if Leicester are to spark a revival.
An N’Golo shaped hole-o
The one obvious difference between Leicester this season and last, and the one that most pundits will tell you is the major reason behind the Champion’s drastic loss of form is the absence of star midfielder N’Golo Kante. The France international’s ability to provide cover for an aging central defensive partnership was crucial last season and it’s no surprise that Leicester have struggled at the back since he left. His performances for Chelsea this season show exactly what Leicester have missed. New signing Wilfred N’didi has some big shoes to fill.
Gerrard: "I know Luiz scored a wonderful free-kick, but Kante was man of the match." In fairness, he's almost always got a strong case #cfc
— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) January 31, 2017
In all in the mind
Last season there was a camaraderie between the players that was noticeable both on and off the pitch. An indomitable team spirit that drove the Foxes on in the face of adversity as they upset the odds again and again on their way to an unlikely title. The key factor being that there was no pressure as everyone expected them to falter. Being Champions presents the players with a completely different set of mental challenges, however, as anyone and everyone wants to put one over you, and Leicester’s players have not been able to cope with it. Now, with the club staring at possible relegation, a whole new mindset is needed. Rumours of players unhappy with Ranieri’s team selection have been rejected, but such speculation also does not help.
— Sky Football ⚽️ (@SkyFootball) February 6, 2017
New boys fail to inspire
Looking at the signings Ranieri made since the summer it is hard to name one who has established himself. Islam Slimani scored a few early on and looked promising but his form has tailed off. Nigerian Ahmed Musa has also failed to settle, bagging just two goals. Centre-back Luis Hernandez came and went, while Nampalys Mendy has not been able to fill the gaping hole left in Leicester’s midfield by the departed N’Golo Kante.