Leicester City and Managing Expectations

Jamie Vardy. Credit Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jamie_Vardy_08_sierpnia_2015.jpg).
Jamie Vardy. Credit Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jamie_Vardy_08_sierpnia_2015.jpg). /

Claudio Ranieri’s men continue to defy everything seemingly standing in their way, and now sit top of the Premier League after nearly half of the season has elapsed..

Current projections for the Foxes final league finish are 4th following Monday’s win, which although isn’t top, would more than please fans who simply wanted to avoid relegation this season.

It was quite apt that Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy were at the scene of the crime for Leicester’s goals against Chelsea, with the pair continuing to battle it out as the early contenders for the Player of the Season award.

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What must to be taken into account is Leicester City’s upcoming fixtures: Everton (a), Liverpool (a) and Manchester City (h). Although the Foxes top the Premier League, the next three will certainly test Claudio Ranieri’s men.

However, the aforementioned duo thrives on space in matches, utilising their rapid pace. Generally in matches against some of the better teams, you will be afforded space in behind for the counter-attack.

Therefore although Leicester could conceded in some of these these games, the pair should continue to be influential in leading the Foxes’ attack at the top of the table. Following the game, Claudio Ranieri, says he is ‘very satisfied’ with his team’s performance during their clash with Premier League champions Chelsea on Monday, which finished with a 2-1 defeat for the Blues.

Responding to a question on whether he thinks the club will sell forward Jamie Vardy or midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who scored the evening’s two goals for the side, Ranieri says ‘nobody can buy them … they don’t have the money’

Even after Monday night’s 2-1 win over Chelsea, scorer Mahrez told the Sky cameras: ‘We are still not safe.’ His deadpan expression gave nothing away.

As Ranieri said just a few weeks ago: ‘The project of the chairman this year is to save Leicester and then next year slowly to achieve the high position.’

Leicester City are astonishingly two points clear of Arsenal, three of Manchester City and six of Manchester United with nearly half of the season having elapsed.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live on Monday, pundit Robbie Savage made the point that tot-to-toe Leicester’s players could not compare with Chelsea’s and that only Vardy, Mahrez and Schmeichel would make a composite team with Jose Mourinho’s side. Yet the Foxes still out-performed Chelsea.

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One underrated player for Leicester this season has been N’Golo Kante, the diminutive defensive midfield, with a penchant for a run forward to support the attack. It seems there might be more artillery added to the midfield in January, despite Gokhan Inler only making the bench these days.

The Sunday People report that the Foxes are considering a £2million January move for tough-tackling Premier League winner Nigel de Jong. Dutchman de Jong, who lifted the Premier League title with Manchester City in 2012, has found playing time limited at Italian giants AC Milan this season.

The defensive midfielder made his first Serie A start since September at the weekend, but was sent off before the hour for a professional foul as Milan drew 1-1 at home to bottom club Hellas Verona.

Although such a more may seem unlikely, so does their Premier League position. Above all it seems that everyone is rejoicing in their relative success this season. Yes expectations need to be managed, but only to a point. At this stage they have more than shown they’re capable of sustaining this form.

The Merseyside double header intrigues, while the Manchester City clash over Christmas may be the match they need to finally heed the doubters.