Leicester City pulled off a remarkable fairytale win last season wherein they were the clear-cut champions in every way possible. Claudio Ranieri pulled off the impossible and gave Leicester a dream season, and their team bested even the biggest Premier League giants. There have always been a lot of attention around them ever since they lifted the trophy, with the biggest questions on everybody’s minds being as to whether or not they would be able to repeat it again.
Since they won, a lot has changed among the team. Also, with their recent defeat to Manchester United in the Community Shield, can it be an indicator of the kind of season they’ll have this time? Granted, you can’t really make a decision based on one match. Maybe they will do better and actually succeed in defending the title or maybe they’ll fail to do so. Be that as it may, the Community Shield game did reveal a great deal about Leicester City.
So, let’s cut to the chase: Can they lift the cup again?
Their star striker Jamie Vardy is all ready to get back to winnings ways and he did seem like he brought that attitude into the game with him. The 29-year-old played dangerously and could’ve damaged United a lot, had it not been for Bailly’s heroics. However, Vardy did equalize in the 52nd minute owing to Fellaini’s back-pass. Unfortunately, one man cannot be enough to lift a team up.
Despite the fact that 10 out of the 11 regulars in Leicester’s winning team were all part of the starting line-up, N’Golo Kante – the one that was missing – was majorly missed.
Kante was nothing less than a superhero for Leicester City last season in the midfield with his one-man wrecking ball displays, but unfortunately, they lost him to Chelsea this season – a fact that they are probably regretting a lot. Andy King replaced Kante at Wembley but he was unable to recreate the even half of Kante’s magic. On a more permanent basis, Nampalys Mendy will now play Kante’s defensive midfield role.
The competition for the spot of the goalkeeper is likely to increase with Ron-Robert Zieler’s impending arrival, as Kasper Schmeichel will now need to impress more often. Luis Hernandez, signed from Sporting Gijon, is also expected to arrive soon and he would be an ideal backup to the already established central defensive pairing of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth, both extremely consistent.
When it comes to the attack, Ahmed Musa seems to be the striker who can lead the line in case of Vardy’s absence. There’s also the 20-year-old Bartosz Kaputska, the Polish winger who was super impressive at Euro 2016. Kaputska debuted wearing the No.10, and his strong performances indicate that, if trained right, Leicester wouldn’t miss Mahrez much if he does choose to move to a different club.
However, Rainieri will need to effectively rotate his players to achieve maximum results as they will have to shuttle back and forth, depending upon their Champions League commitments. Thus, this will raise the pressure on him and the team and injuries might be a concern.
Leicester does have what it takes to repeat a miracle but then, without Kante in the midfield and with the Champions League preparations looming ahead, will they manage to do it for the second time? Only time will tell.