Leicester City 2020/21 Season Preview: Strengths, Weaknesses, Key Man & Prediction

03 September 2020 06:45

If you'd offered Brendan Rodgers a fifth placed finish at the start of the 2019/2020 campaign, he would have bitten your hand off.

However, Leicester City's strong placing does not tell the full story of their season. Surrendering Champions League qualification on the final day, the Foxes failure to get over the line was greeted with surprise and disappointment back in July.

With the new season creeping closer, it's time to put these ghosts behind them as refocus their efforts on maintaining their place in the top six. With added Europa League commitments to contend with, this will be no easy task, so what exactly can Leicester fans expect from the upcoming campaign?

Here's everything you need to know about the Foxes ahead of the new season.


Strengths

A Strong Spine

Although you would not have thought it watching those disastrous final few games, Leicester had the fifth best defence in the Premier League last season.

Much of this is down to the Foxes' incredibly strong spine. A few brain farts aside, Kasper Schmeichel remains one of the most reliable stopper in England. The Dane is blessed with razor sharp reflexes and genuinely world class distribution - the source of many Leicester counter attacks over the years.

In front of him, Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans complement each other perfectly. The former is an aggressive stopper, not afraid of taking a few risks. Meanwhile, Evans is a Rolls Royce defender who exudes all the calmness and composure you would expect from a Premier League champion.

Then there's Wilfred Ndidi, the remarkable ball winning machine who at points last season was playing like the best defensive midfielder on the planet. All the members of Leicester's stubborn defensive spine will continue to play big roles next season, ensuring that the Foxes will once again be very tough to break down.

They're Quick, They're Fast and They've Got Pace

Leicester are brilliant on the counter. In Ricardo Pereira and the arriving Timothy Castagne they possess two full-backs who function as auxiliary wingers. Both are blessed with devastating pace and trickery and are capable of driving the team forward into the opponent's half in the blink of an eye.

Their pace in the full-back positions is bolstered by similar explosiveness out wide. Harvey Barnes, Ayoze Perez and the much maligned, but effective, Demarai Gray are all whizz kids, able to burst past most defenders in the country with ease.

This pace party is spearheaded by the evergreen Jamie Vardy. Matured from the overly enthusiastic greyhound who used to chase down every single lost cause, the 33-year-old instead saves his energy for bursting onto through balls these days. Despite his age, last season's Premier League Golden Boot winner shows no sign of slowing down.


Weaknesses

Paper Thin Squad

Their starting XI may be capable of challenging for the top six but scratch beneath the surface and Leicester's squad is sorely lacking is several areas.

In no position is this more apparent than centre-back. Thanks to Jonny Evans' suspension and Wes Morgan's injury, Leicester are set to start the season with just two fully fit centre-backs: Caglar Soyuncu and Filip Benkovic.

Both arrived on transfer deadline day back in 2018 and their careers have taken wildly different paths since. While Soyuncu has carved out a reputation as one of the most promising central defenders in Europe, Benkovic has been a ghost, either being shipped out on loan or featuring for the Under-23s.

The fact that a player like this is anywhere near the Foxes' starting XI is worrying and Leicester's wafer thin defensive option rules out a long term adoption of the 3-4-1-2 that Brendan Rodgers experimented with towards the end of the 2019/2020 campaign.

Depth is similarly lacking in wide areas and an injury to Jamie Vardy would also place a ridiculous strain on the much improved but still unproven Kelechi Iheanacho. A recruitment drive is in order, particularly with the added pressure of Thursday night football in Belarus to come.


Key Man

Although Leicester are massively reliant on Jamie Vardy's lethal goalscoring antics, the absence of James Maddison during Project Restart hammered home just how important the England international is.

Only Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish created more shots than Maddison last season and he also completed the fourth most key passes in the division. When the former Norwich man is omitted from the starting lineup, Leicester look bereft of ideas going forward, with their passing sequences usually culminating in a frustrated barrage of terrible crosses.

Maddison adds calmness and incision to the Foxes attack and keeping him fighting fit will be vital as Rodgers' side prepare to compete on multiple fronts.


Prediction

They've performed miracles before and Leicester are going to need a bit more magic to better their fifth placed finish this season.

Much has been made of Ben Chilwell's departure to Chelsea but this is unlikely to hamper the Foxes much, particularly with Timothy Castagne representing a more than adequate replacement.

What is more likely to cause an issue is the ridiculous levels of fixture congestion Leicester are likely to be subjected to. Competing on no less than four fronts with a paper thin squad, something is bound to give - and its likely to be the Foxes' Premier League position.

Prediction: Top Half Finish


Source: 90min