What Can Be Expected of Leicester City This Season?
Leicester City have spent more time in the Premier League’s top four over the past two seasons than any other side, yet the Foxes have not finished in the Champions League positions since their 2015-16 title-winning season.
That stat has been doing the rounds since the end of last season but it still hits home when you read it back again. The heart-breaking final-day failures at the last hurdle in each of the past two campaigns would be enough to prompt many managers to walk away, but Brendan Rodgers has vowed to keeping going.
The near-misses do not appear to have hit Rodgers’ stock, which remains high and he is actually 2/1 favourite to be the next manager of Arsenal and is also joint-top in the betting on who will succeed Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Furthermore, he’s 4/1 second favourite to be next Manchester United manager, behind Mauricio Pochettino, while some England fans appear open to the idea of the Northern Irishman succeeding Gareth Southgate when the time comes.
So it stands to reason that Rodgers is highly thought of having shrugged off the ‘David Brent’ comparisons that emerged during his time at Liverpool. More importantly for Leicester fans, he appears genuinely committed to helping the club break the top four mould once again.
Given how much the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have strengthened this summer, as well as Liverpool retaining their key players, online betting sites only give Leicester a glimmer of hope of finishing in the top four this term.
Top Four Betting Odds
However, despite Tottenham and Arsenal also making significant investments in their squad this summer, the bookies give Leicester a fair chance of another top six finish. Paddy Power go odds-on at 5/6 while William Hill are slightly less convinced at 11/8.
But after two agonisingly close attempts at Champions League qualification in the past two years, would another fifth or sixth place finish satisfy the fans?
Former Leicester City crowd favourite Emile Heskey believes a sustained run of top six finishes will ultimately lead to the club taking the next step.
“I’m going to put my fan’s hat on here and say that, for me, a top six finish again is the expectancy this season,” Heskey told Gambling.com.
“If we can consolidate that fifth or sixth-place finish for four or five years in a row then you can take that next step.
“A sustainable attempt to stay in the top six is achievable and for me it’s good consistency. It’s going to be difficult to break into that top four on a consistent basis.
“Leicester have been punching above their weight when you see Arsenal and Tottenham spending huge amounts, but I think top six is doable again and it’s sustainable before the club will be truly ready for the next step.”
Veteran Vardy Still Prolific
At 34, Jamie Vardy remains a key player for Leicester and his goalscoring nous remains intact with two goals in his opening three Premier League games this season.
The recent international break has given the veteran some down time to recharge – Vardy having retired from England in 2018 – and Heskey believes the Leicester striker has prolonged his career by removing himself from the Three Lions set-up.
He said: “It does help in terms of there being less games, less travel and more recovery time to recuperate from knocks and mentally as well.
“You get that little bit of extra time to get over little knocks and niggles. It’s a chance to regenerate, recoup and go again.
“I definitely think it will have helped, especially with the way that Jamie Vardy plays – he’s very, very quick. I’m surprised he’s still as quick as he is to be honest.
“It’s important that the body gets that rest to be able to recover.”
Vardy’s Top Scorer Odds
Vardy is a 25/1 outsider for the golden boot this season and will fancy his chances of adding to his tally this weekend against Manchester City, a team he has tormented over the past number of years in a Leicester shirt.
He scored a hat-trick against City last season which took his tally of goals against the Citizens to a remarkable 11. He’s likely to be key to any success for Leicester this Saturday as they look to topple City once again having beaten them in this season’s Community Shield.
However, Heskey insists the Foxes will have to be at their very best if they’re to upset the odds again with Guardiola’s side having notched 10 goals in their last two games.
“Manchester City are still the team everyone has their eye on in the sense that they’re the team to beat,” he said. “They have set the standards and set all the records, they’re the ones everyone wants to go out and beat.
“It’s never going to be easy against this Manchester City side but when you look at Leicester and what they’ve achieved over the years, the teams that they’ve beaten, it’s a game that can be won.
“Brendan has done a fantastic job in creating a culture at Leicester whereby they don’t just want to compete with the best, they want to win games against the best and win trophies.
“This is what you’re seeing from the players now. Brendan has really banged that into them and you can see in the players that they really believe in themselves. But it’s never going to be an easy game against Man City.”
Leicester vs Man City Odds
Top football bookies are going 4/7 on a Man City win but Leicester look a big price at 9/2 to win or 3/1 to draw, considering they are somewhat of a bogey team for Guardiola. Heskey has certainly not ruled out a good result for his old side but is mindful of City’s strengths.
“First and foremost Leicester will have to weather a bit of a storm,” he said.
“But when it comes to their own attacking, over the years it’s been counter-attacking football that has really hurt City and Jamie Vardy’s counter-attacking goes as far back as when Mahrez was with him at Leicester.
“There will be opportunities to hit them on the counter-attack but you have to hit them with pace. If you don’t do that, then it’s very hard to get at Man City.
“Leicester are a possession-based team but I don’t see them getting the lion’s share of possession. Man City are very fluent but if you can close up the gaps that they’ll look to exploit then you never know.”
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