The player of the moment, the team of the moment ‘everything is coming up Millhouse’ for Leicester City.
It has stirred the interest of the great Sir Alex Ferguson who made these insightful comments:
“The Vitality…Speed…Energy…they are currently the best team in the league without doubt…have they the resources to continue this throughout the season?”
Resources is the key word amongst some lavish and deserved praise. Leicester City’s sole goal was to avoid relegation and the squad is designed to do exactly that.
Their squad is desperately lacking quality in depth. An outstanding injury record has seen no long term injuries (James is recovering from an ACL injury incurred last season). A staggering 9 players have featured in every game with only the RB & LB roles being rotated. This is common place amongst the lower resourced teams, Watford & Burnley (last season) are very similar.
This makes the upcoming Christmas schedule all the more enticing as Leicester travel to Everton, Liverpool & host Manchester City in the space of 10 days.
With 4 games in 13 days a large majority of PL squads will be pushed to the limits. Squad rotation can often be balanced when two low resource squads play, in between heavily resourced opponents. Unfortunately Leicester face 3 large squads in 3 consecutive matches over 9 days.
Resource management is going to be extremely important over the next three games that said Leicester City’s ultimate goal is avoiding relegation. With this all but mathematically achieved there appears little reason for the club to take high risks with their star players. Expect some rotation around the 9 key players with more game time heading towards summer signings Inler & Okazaki & Dyer. [Huth is suspended for the Everton encounter which will see Benalouane or Wasilewski start for the first time this season. Drinkwater will miss the game with a hamstring complaint which should see Inler start.]
Fixtures & Style
Much has been made of Leicester’s favourable start to the season and the fixture list. Whilst it has provided certain favours a team can’t be considered simply fortunate after 16 games. Leicester play an extremely fast paced game on the counter attack, defending deep and bursting away. It is highly effective in away matches and against teams who dominate possession (Everton & Liverpool come to mind, the next two opponents, away from home).
The run of results puts us in an interesting situation as we approach the midway point of the season. Players can blast out of the blocks under a new manager, an adjusted game style with a fresh approach and take opponents by surprise. Michu & Kane come to mind both had quiet ends to their explosive seasons. Quite simply by the time the return fixtures take place opponents have studied the opposition, know more about them, how to frustrate them and ultimately obtain more favourable results. The ‘surprise element’ has disappeared and general fatigue starts to set in. It really proves how difficult a 38 game season is and why we very rarely see teams with limited resources succeed over the entire journey.
Looking at the above graphic, Leicester City have to play 9 of the current top 10 away from home. The ‘Vitality…Speed…Energy’ will be on display but the surprise factor will be no longer. The opposition teams research, style adjustments and general player fatigue factors will see a regression in Leicester’s performance at some point this season. At what point this occurs is still unknown but it will be critical to the direction of this fantasy season.
My suggestion is to hold onto Vardy & Mahrez for the current gameweek with them both in top form, expect a frenetic counter attack against Everton. Stay tuned there will be a feature piece to follow on these two stars of the season and how to manage them in your squads.
For now I shall leave you with this:
Leicester have scored in every game this season even netting two in their solitary loss to second placed Arsenal