After Nigel Pearson’s shock sacking, Leicester are an unknown quantity this season. Let’s take a look at their possible starting XI!
NOTE: Updated to include Okazaki
It must be noted that being under a new manager, there is some guesswork involved here. We have only seen Leicester line up in 1 pre-season friendly so far, but they stuck with the 3-5-2 that worked so well at the end of last season, so expect that to continue…
Schmeichel will remain the Foxes number one between the sticks and must come under consideration at just 4.5 with the BPS changes. If Leicester continue to maintain the defensive form they showed at the end of last season, he is a bargain. That’s a gamble though. Beforehand, things weren’t as pretty. It remains to be seen just how Ranieri will have the team play, and whether that will be beneficial to their defence.
New signing Fuchs shows that Ranieri values his defence, his experience will provide great resistance as they work around their new 3 at the back system. Not sure about the 5.0 price tag though. Morgan is much better value at 4.5, the club captain will also be a secure starter. Huth should also be a safe starter to play between the pair in the centre. De Laet could be an OOP (Out of position) prospect if he wins the right wing back role, however he is facing direct competition from Albrighton. Konchesky and Simpson are left in no mans land whilst they operate with 3 at the back.
I suspect that King will partner Drinkwater in the middle of the park with James injured and Cambiasso’s exit unless there are further transfers. That will be a major loss for the Foxes, and I’m not convinced they’ll be able to fully cover what he gave them during their hot streak last season. Keep this in mind when considering their defensive options. Even though King got 2 goals last season, neither of the pair convince me.
Albrighton looked good on the right flank in their first pre-season hitout. As I said he is going up against De Laet, at this stage I have him ahead. I wouldn’t pay 5.0 for him though with questions marks over his job security.
Mahrez comfortably looks like their best option in midfield. Set to play in behind the striker, he hit hot form towards the end of last season whilst thriving upon his new role. At 5.5 Mahrez could be a brilliant selection if he can carry that form into GW1, a home fixture against Sunderland is certainly tempting!
Ranieri has 5 options to choose from for his striker combo. Ulloa, Vardy, Nugent, Kramaric and new signing Okazaki will battle it out. Kramaric’s 2 goals in 13 appearances last season didn’t set the world on fire, so I expect him to feature from the bench. Ulloa gives them much needed height and strength, however he will face fierce pressure for his spot. Nugent is more likely to compete for the role in behind the striker, so rule him out. I expect Vardy and Okazaki to fight it out for the second place, however if Ulloa’s form drops then they could both start. Vardy is definitely the one to watch, he played as a winger for most of last season but looks extremely dangerous when playing up front. Okazaki is an interesting one. Diouf proved that Bundesliga form can be carried into the Premier League, so Okazaki’s 15 goal and 12 goal seasons are nothing to be scoffed at. He’s certainly one to monitor.
50/50: I’m on the fence with regards to Schmeichel. Based on Leicester’s clean sheet record over the course of the season, he doesn’t look like a great pick. For keepers to take advantage of extra possible bonus points, they still have to keep clean sheets! You could take a different perspective and say that Leicester’s defenders are under-priced considering how they finished. I’m not sure I can back them in. They are however a danger going forward, and Vardy is mighty tempting. If he keeps that role up front, his pace will cause oppositions huge troubles. Okazaki could get the gig though. Another to strongly consider…
Avoid: I’m not a big fan of Ulloa. He had an awesome start last season with 6 goals in the first 6 games, before he dropped off completely. Not worth paying 6.0, especially with more competition for the striker positions.
Breakout: I like the look of Mahrez a lot! 5.5 is great value considering his role and ability. Consistency is the one part of his game that needs work, at his best he can cause any Premier League defence issues. Watch list for sure, he could be a huge improver with set pieces in his locker.
That completes Leicester, 6 down 14 to go! There’s 2 weeks to go until deadline, it’s time to start heating up! I’ll be back with Liverpool’s XI tomorrow, see you then.