Chelsea slid from first in the 2014-2015 English Premier League to 10th in 2015-2016 but not since Leeds finished 17th in the 1992-1993 inaugural edition of the competition has the defending champion ended up below the fold. One made a few bit of money backing Leicester to win English Premier League games at inflated odds towards the end of last term so one does not wish to insult the Foxes but they have lost N’Golo Kante to Chelsea already and Europe’s big clubs are lining up to relieve them of other key cogs, either before the season kicks off or in the January transfer window.
No English Premier League champion has ended the subsequent season on the bottom half of the ladder but one is willing to speculate some cash on surprise title winner Leicester making unwanted history at odds of +260 with BoyleSports.
Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy captured most of the headlines during Leicester’s incredible English Premier League-winning campaign but it was Kante who collected the Foxes award for which the players voted, which goes to show the importance of him to their shock success. Kante, whom Leicester signed from Caen just before last term’s English Premier League tournament began, could not resist the offer of a five-year Chelsea contract and the opportunity to work alongside Antonio Conte. Leicester is going to miss not only his bite in the middle of the pitch but also his excellent distribution skills.
If you believe what you read in the newspapers than Mahrez, another of the four Leicester players who made it into the English Premier League team of the year, is going to flee the Foxes in the coming days as well. And it would be fair to say that many English Premier League coaches will have developed strategies specific to Leicester during the off season. Never does football stand still and Leicester’s tactics may not elicit the same rewards moving forward.
Leicester is the general English Premier League seventh favourite and one is willing to write off the chance of the Foxes ending up ahead of any of the six shorter priced sides – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United. Simplistic it may be but one thinks that Leicester will have to finish seventh, eighth, ninth or 10th to put pay to one’s suggested bet, with one having positions 11th to 20th up one’s sleeve. In summary, one has to find four English Premier League teams other than the big six to overtake Leicester on the ladder. Well, Slaven Bilic has proven one wrong about what would happen to West Ham under his leadership and the Hammers may take another step in the right direction. Everton had an English Premier League top-10 squad last term but Roberto Martinez could not get the best out of the Toffees players – Ronald Koeman is a managerial upgrade.
Southampton has recruited well with Claude Puel succeeding Koeman but the Saints will need Charlie Austin to replace the goals of Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle – at least he has a decent track record. There are three English Premier League sides that have the potential to leapfrog Leicester and, remember, the Foxes have to deal with UEFA Champions League action. Wolfsburg flopped in last season’s German Bundesliga under similar pressures to those that Leicester faces this time round.
And one should not write off the possibility of a promoted team ending its first English Premier League campaign on the top half of the ladder. Seventy-one sides have been elevated to the English Premier League and 15 of them have finished 10th or higher in their first season among the elite – Blackburn (fourth in 1992-1993), Newcastle (third in 1993-1994), Nottingham Forest (third in 1994-1995), Leicester (ninth in 1996-1997), Middlesbrough (ninth in 1998-1999), Sunderland (seventh in 1999-2000), Ipswich (fifth in 2000-2001), Charlton (ninth in 2000-2001), Blackburn (10th in 2001-2002), Manchester City (ninth in 2002-2003), West Ham (ninth in 2005-2006), Wigan (10th in 2005-2006), Reading (eighth in 2006-2007), Birmingham (ninth in 2009-2010) and West Ham (10th in 2012-2013).
Leicester City to Finish in the Bottom Half of the Premier League