Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Leicester City
It has been an interesting summer at the King Power Stadium, as Leicester City have a new manager after firing Nigel Pearson.
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Claudio Ranieiri is the new man in charge, as Pearson was let go after a series of off the field incidents. The Foxes managed to pull off the “great escape” last season to remain in the Premier League, as they won seven of their final nine matches of the season to survive. They have spent nine years in total in the PL, and the Midlands club have won the League Cup three times in their 131-year history.
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Regional rivals include both Derby County and Nottingham Forest, both of whom are in English soccer’s second tier, while Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion are their nearest PL foes in the Midlands.
Best possible XI:
—– Schmeichel —–
— Morgan — Huth — Wasilewski —
Mahrez — King — Albrighton — Schlupp
Kramaric — Vardy -- Okazaki
Transfers In: Christian Fuchs (Free, Schalke), Robert Huth ($5 million, Stoke City), Shinji Okazaki ($11.5 million, Mainz)
Transfers Out: Paul Gallagher (Free, Preston North End), Anthony Knockaert (Free, Standard Liege), Chris Woo ($5 million, Leeds United)
Last season: 14th in the Premier League - It was an incredible season at the KP as the Foxes survived relegation against all the odds. Pearson’s side had some incredible wins during the campaign, as they beat Manchester United 5-3 early on to fill the fans with hope. Some tough months followed however, with speculation around Pearson’s job continuing, but he remained in charge and led Leicester to one of the greatest escapes the PL has ever seen. They won seven of their final nine games to lift themselves out of the bottom three and they ended up finishing in 14th.
Star player: Jamie Vardy - The tireless forward just didn’t stop running all season long and he was rewarded for his fine form with an England debut. Vardy, 28, made his way up through the leagues from semi-pro soccer to the PL in lightning quick time and opposition defenses just couldn’t deal with his pace and direct style of play. If he can improve his finishing and gets the opportunity to spend more time in the box this season, Vardy should enjoy another stellar campaign.
Coaches’ Corner: Ranieri has a really tough job on his hands at the KP. Leicester’s squad was built by Pearson and he seemed to know how to get the best out of them. The Italian manager -- infamously dubbed “The Tinkerman” due to his ever-changing starting lineup during his time in charge of Chelsea -- has never faced a PL relegation battle during his long managerial career and it has been 11 years since he last coached in England. Is the ultra-defensive coach ready for the cut and thrust of a relegation battle in England’s top-flight? Many believe he is not, but he has kept this squad together over the offseason so a few key additions will be crucial to his and Leicester’s success.
PST predicts: Expect another relegation battle at the KP as the Foxes will have to adapt to a new playing philosophy and hope second-season syndrome does not kick in. Leicester proved how good they could be in attack towards the end of last season and if they can keep the tempo of their play high, they will gain plenty of points at home as the KP has become a fortress. That said, the jury is still out on whether Ranieri is the right man for the job.