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Season preview: Leicester City

Leicester City news

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: (L-R) Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Wilfred Ndidi, Marc Albrighton, Harvey Barnes and Ben Chilwell of Leicester City celebrate victory after the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Leicester City at St Mary’s Stadium on October 25, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Leicester City news, season preview: The 2020-21 Premier League season is almost here and our season previews will give you all of the information you need to know about each of the 20 PL clubs.

Let’s go!

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

This is our Leicester City season preview, and you can click on the link above to find out exactly how you can watch every single Foxes game live in the USA across our platforms at NBC Sports.

[ PHOTOS: Ranking new kits for 2020-21 PL season ]

Okay, time to focus on Leicester City’s title defense!

Leicester City

2019-20 finish: 5th in Premier League (18W-8D-12L, 62 points) – qualified for Europa League
Head coach: Brendan Rodgers
2019-20 top scorer: Jamie Vardy (23 goals, PL Golden Boot)
Location: Leicester, East Midlands

ProSoccerTalk’s key topic on Leicester City: Who are these guys?

Leicester City was a phenomenal group of overachievers to begin the 2019-20 Premier League season, and the expected goals table said the Foxes were a bit over their skis when it came to sitting in the top three for much of the season. They scored more than they should’ve and conceded less than expected but all-in-all fifth place was a very fair finish.

Still, no one saw their incredible drop-off coming, and it started before James Maddison and Ben Chilwell were injured. Maddison has re-upped for the long-term while Chilwell has fetched a pretty penny from Chelsea and both of those things are victories for the Foxes’ future.

So are they the crew that kicked up dust in the first half and a potential top four threat? Or are they a club which will be midtable and quietly depart the Europa League in January?

See below, via Understat. The green is good fortune.

Liverpool xG

Leicester City news: The current situation

How long can Jamie Vardy run as an elite level scorer? He’s got a great engine, a new contract, and is coming off the Premier League Golden Boot, but it’s going to be important that Maddison and Harvey Barnes take the next steps and Rodgers figures out how to get the most out of Kelechi Iheanacho.

Rodgers is a good manager, no doubt, but is he an upper echelon piece to a Premier League powers’ puzzle? He’ll know his reputation will either be burnished or banged up by the state of this season, and Leicester can run deep into the Europa League if he puts the proper plans in place.

Really, though, the biggest assets are the heart of their midfield in Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans. Ndidi was there for the slide, but it started when he was on the shelf. Leicester was 2-3-3 when Ndidi went less than 30 minutes or did not play. He’s not 24 until December and perhaps the most underrated star in the PL.

Tielemans didn’t mimic the wild half-season of 2018-19 in terms of offense but proved his complete presence over 37 games. When Tielemans and Ndidi are keeping teams honest in the middle, the jobs of Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans get a lot easier.

Key Leicester City news, season objectives

  • Steadier Maddison: James Maddison is a delightful talent who made strides at becoming a bonafide star last season, but can he become a success-driving attack centerpiece? Maddison scored or assisted just once after December 8.
  • Kelechi a key: Iheanacho is just hitting 24 years old on Oct. 3 and looked the most like his final season at Man City in the 2019-20 season. He bagged 10 goals in all competitions and chipped in four assists over about 1300 minutes. A next step would be huge.
  • Europa and the cups: No one is expecting Leicester to move into the top four, but staying in the UEL by winning a domestic cup or finishing top six would be lovely. And PL teams have been quite decent in the Europa League, so can they channel their best days on Thursdays and make the Champions League that way?

Transfers in

  • Timothy Castagne (Atalanta)

ProSoccerTalk’s prediction for Leicester City in 2020-21

Good but not great. There’s too much quality here to drop out of the top half altogether and enough depth to think they’ll contend well enough with the congestion of the Europa League. If Rodgers pushes the right buttons, Leicester could make its way back to Europe. Will he? His second full season at Liverpool was his best and this time he has the leg-up of a season-and-a-half before the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

That said, this season sees all six of the traditional PL powers looking better and deeper than the Foxes, plus significant threats from Wolves and Everton. Rodgers will have to outduel Carlo Ancelotti and Nuno Espirito Santo plus one of the big six to finish sixth. That seems a tall ask. Eighth place and maybe a cup?