To enhance my 2016/17 Premier League projection I’m reviewing factors that may impact each team’s strength compared with last season, as explained here. Next up Leicester City.
Leicester’s remarkable 2015/16 season needs little reminder, and is in no need of further analysis. Some still point to an element of luck – and, sure enough, they had the highest shot conversion rate and highest percentage of shots on target saved. Yet their game management and tactical adaptability was exceptional. One of the most fascinating aspects of the new season will be finding out whether Leicester really have altered the Premier League paradigm.
To illustrate the relative strengths of key players joining and leaving, the numbers below compare defensive, passing and attacking strength against the average premier league player in 2015/16 (0% means at the same level as the average premier league player, greater than 0% is better and less than 0% is worse). Defensive assessment is the sum of defensive actions (tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocks). Passing is number of completed passes, and attacking strength is goals plus assists (all measured per match). This isn’t a robust statistical analysis, and can be skewed due to acquisition from a weaker league or lack of minutes played – but the purpose is to simply indicate the comparative strength of incoming and outgoing players.
Losing Kante to Chelsea is the clear difference to last season, given he had such a significant influence on Leicester’s success. But they’ve also made some interesting, and potentially positive, signings – bolstering a small squad. Mendy looks a good player, but not a direct replacement for Kante in terms of nullifying opponents.
Yes. Champions League. Leicester benefited from their opponents’ European commitments last season. This season they’ll have at least 6 group matches to cope with. And it’s a big deal, the matches will be great events – so there’s a real risk that the Champions League will divert focus from the Premier League, as well as challenge the depth of squad.
Weaker, due to losing Kante and Champions League commitment. However, at time of writing, other than Kante – the key players from last season are still in place and potentially exciting new players have joined. So Leicester are still likely to be strong, and entertaining.