Last season, Leicester City returned after being relegated and went on to win the EPL, despite the odds of that happening being 5,000-to-1. Not only did they do the impossible, but they also ended up winning the Premier League by 10 points, making it one of the biggest achievements in the history of football.
With all that done and dusted, do the Foxes have what it takes to be on top for the second time?
The Foxes have not lost a premier league match since February 14, 2016 at Arsenal. The Foxes have not suffered a full-squad defeat in the Premier League since December 26, 2015, when they lost at Liverpool. Within that stretch, Leicester beat Tottenham and Manchester City, two of last year’s title-challengers .
The transfer window of the EPL always reels in huge surprises or big disappointments and one the major losses of Leicester City would be the departure of N’golo Kante to Chelsea. With Riyadh Mahrez’s possible departure looming in the corner, Leicester will have to rethink their attacking strategy and deploy replacements.
Speaking of defense, their back line is still strong with the likes of Christian Fuchs, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Danny Simpson, and with Kasper Schmeichel still in goal.
Leicester added two key players, Nampalys Mendy and Ahmed Musa, this offseason, and both may end up starting regularly for the squad. Mendy will be the obvious player to replace Kantè in the midfield. Mendy is defensive minded, and will have to adjust to the play in the notorious physical Premier League if he hopes to help Leicester repeat as champions.
The Foxes’ other key addition, Musa, could replace Leonardo Ulloa to pair with Vardy up front. Musa brings a lot of speed and scored 13 goals in the Russian Premier League and was part of the title-winning CSKA Moscow.
However, Leicester’s biggest concern right now would be the dicey future of Mahrez, one of the Premier League’s top players, as he has yet to confirm where he will play this season. He has rejected Leicester’s offer extension and could be on the move to a new club. The loss of Mahrez would be a huge blow for the reigning champions, who struggled to score goals even with him in the side.
Leicester will also compete in the Champions League next season. Playing in the Champions League is a great privilege, but with that privilege comes extra work for the defending Premier League champions. Leicester will have to face the top clubs from all over Europe in occasional midweek matches, as well as dedicating focus and energy to their domestic fixtures on the weekend. Undoubtedly, this would be extremely exhausting for the team and injuries will become pretty common.
Having squad depth helps with that kind of grind, but Leicester, a smaller club, may struggle with the wear and tear that comes with simultaneously taking part in multiple competitions.
Given the way the Foxes won their title a year ago, Leicester City is unlikely to repeat as champions. In comparison to the other Premier League winners, Leicester was a weaker champion in terms of goal differential and win total.
If Mahrez stays, Leicester would do well compete for a top-four spot, which would gain them another entry into the Champions League for the 2017-’18 season, but they would have to defy all the odds again to attempt to win their second straight title.