Five reasons why Leicester City have struggled this season

Date published: Sunday 12th February 2017 9:09

Premier League Champions Leicester City sit just a point above the drop zone after their 2-0 loss at Swansea City on Sunday.

The season is going from bad to worse for last season’s shock 5,000-1 title winners – they have picked up just one point in 2017 and have yet to score in the league this year.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five reasons why they have struggled so far this campaign.

THE LOSS OF N’GOLO KANTE

Leicester tried to fill the gap left by the midfielder’s move to Chelsea but he was irreplaceable. Bought for just £5.6million from Caen in 2015, Kante took the Premier League by storm with his ability to not only break up attacks but start Leicester’s counters which were a source of such success.

He protected Robert Huth and Wes Morgan and such was his presence Claudio Ranieri joked he played Kante either side of Danny Drinkwater in midfield. Kante moved to Stamford Bridge for £32million in the summer and he has continued the form which saw him break into France’s squad as he stars with Chelsea at the top of the league.

N'Golo Kante: Starring for Chelsea

POOR RECRUITMENT

As champions the Foxes had their chance to create a new era for the club in the summer but failed having lost head of recruitment Steve Walsh to Everton. Striker Islam Slimani, a record £30million buy from Sporting Lisbon, has shown glimpses of what he can do but, at 28, he should have been a ready-made signing.

Ron-Robert Zieler has kept just one clean sheet when deputising for Schmeichel, £16million man Ahmed Musa is yet to flourish, Luis Hernandez lasted half a season before being sold to Malaga and £13million Nampalys Mendy has barely played due to injury.

At least January signing Wilfred Ndidi has shown his quality – in just four games. That the Foxes failed to buy a centre-back in the summer was baffling and while Molla Wague has arrived on loan from Udinese, it may come too late to help Morgan and Huth.

AWAY FORM

Leicester are yet to win on the road this season and, coupled with average home form, that could be their undoing. Ten defeats from their 13 games is an abject record and they set the tone by losing 2-1 at Hull on the opening day of the season.

They have lost at relegation rivals Sunderland and Swansea, while defeats at Watford, Bournemouth and Burnley have allowed those sides to move clear. The only points away from home have come at Tottenham, Stoke and Middlesbrough.

HUMAN NATURE

Andy King: Heads Leicester in front

Boss Ranieri admitted a couple of months ago a lot could be put down to basic human nature. It may be a simple explanation but a true one. The Foxes seemed to have relaxed since their title win, players who never dreamed of earning £100,000 every week now appear to be too comfortable and there is a determination from the top sides not to be embarrassed again.

Juggling the demands of the Champions League – for players not used to European football – has also taken it out of them. Everyone is out to get Leicester and looking for chinks in last season’s unbreakable armour, and they are finding them with alarming regularity. Even the fans have a part to play as the King Power Stadium is no longer a fearsome place to go.

THE TINKERMAN’S RETURN

Ranieri performed a miracle last season – winning his first top-flight title when he was favourite to be the first Premier League manager sacked. That triumph came from a balanced and consistent side who, game by game, knew exactly what their jobs were.

Now he is making too many changes with formation, at the start and during games, and his players look confused. Injuries have enforced changes but there is no longer a complete identity. Ranieri even conceded after the defeat at Southampton last month he got his tactics wrong.

He has not been helped by a huge loss of form from last season’s PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, the scorer of 24 goals, but it is partly his job to get them firing again.

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