2015/16 Premier League team preview: Leicester City

Leonardo Ulloa

After finishing the 2014-15 season with momentum firmly at their backs, Leicester City should be positive going into their second consecutive Premier League campaign. But there’s a sense of foreboding about the King Power Stadium after a summer of significant change.

The manager has gone, for starters. Nigel Pearson may not have been to everyone’s taste, particularly the local journalists at times last season, but he fashioned a cohesive and energetic Foxes team during his time in charge. One which showcased its true potential with a sensational finish to the previous term.

Esteban Cambiasso has also decided to seek pastures new and the worldly, comprehensive influence of the ex-Internazionale man will be tough for Claudio Ranieri, the man tasked with replacing Pearson, to fully replicate.

As such, another season staving off relegation will surely be deemed a success for the Italian, whose appointment has been greeted with mixed reactions from the soccer cognoscenti. Or, with some solid foundations in place from Pearson’s tenure, are we doing the Foxes a scant disservice?

 

Best XI

LCFC

 

Reasons to be Positive

Although Pearson did do a sterling job, his antics were a little unsavory at times. The hope is that his departure will keep the club in the headlines for the right reasons and the meticulous groundwork will still be in place for Ranieri to build upon going forward.

The core of the team which marched to safety late last season remains in situ too. Ranieri will find a sizeable squad which should appeal to his “tinkerman” tendencies, plenty of options at the sharp end of the pitch and players that were well adept playing a variety of different systems last season.

 

Reasons to be Negative

There are plenty of players in place, but not many are to that high a standard. Although Leicester have David Nugent, Jamie Vardy, Andrej Kramaric, Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa battling for spots up front, the club had a bid rejected for Charlie Austin earlier this summer. It suggests the coach is concerned about whether the Foxes have the firepower to secure safety again this season.

Cambiasso, as aforementioned, will also be a big miss. Finding a player who can knit things together so well in the middle of the park will be tough, not to mention replacing the experience and leadership skills that were so evident during the Argentine’s one-year stint at the club. In addition, the defense still looks prone to individual errors, which cost the Foxes dearly at times last season.

 

Key Player – Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper

With the base of the Leicester midfield weakened and a ropey defense in front of him, it could be a busy season for Kasper Schmeichel. The 28-year-old’s return to the team was largely unheralded late on in 2014-15 after a significant injury layoff and it was no surprise form picked up as the Dane was reintegrated back into the team.

Schmeichel is approaching his peak years as a goalkeeper now and while he’s always looked a little rough around the edges, there were signs last season of an increased level of maturity in his game. If Leicester are to stay up, you imagine he’s going to have to enjoy the best season of his career to date.

Read our interview with Kasper’s father Peter here.

 

Prediction – 20th

It’s tough to see things aligning for Ranieri at the King Power Stadium. While they have plenty of quality players and have made some strong summer purchases, filling the Pearson-shaped void doesn’t seem like the right job for the Italian.

Leicester may conspire to prove pundits wrong once again, but the squad is a little bloated and imbalanced. They only just stayed up under Pearson thanks to an unprecedented and unexpected surge to the finish line; to ask the same of this squad under an unfamiliar, unconvincing manager is going to be a little too much.

 

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball

 

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