One of the most surprising stories of the Premier League season so far has been the downturn in fortunes of Leicester City.
Having finished inside the top 10 in each of the previous five seasons, UK betting sites had Leicester nowhere near the summit of their price on which team would face relegation come the end of May.
Yet things are looking bleak for the Foxes as they sit rock bottom of the league, with only a single win on the board and seven sorry losses to their name from nine games to date.
Such has been the heat on Brendan Rodgers, that he is now the favourite to be the next manager to go in the Premier League’s Sack Race.
Where Have Things Gone Wrong For The Foxes
Leicester didn’t become one of the favourites for Premier League relegation overnight. Alarm bells started ringing at the King Power Stadium at the beginning of the summer transfer window when it became clear there was no money to spend.
Seeing the writing on the wall, star defender Wesley Fofana forced a moved south to Chelsea, while only one outfield player was purchased – Wout Faes, who was a direct replacement for Fofana – much to the dismay of Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers cut a more dissatisfied figure in the lead up to the new season due to the lack of transfer activity, and it’s been clear since the start of the term just how much his hands have been tied because of that lack of spending.
However, he does need to shoulder some of the blame for some of the shambolic defending Leicester fans have had to endure in the opening nine games, as Danny Ward has had to pick the ball out of his net a whopping 34 times already.
The goalkeeper position has been an hot topic for Leicester fans ever since the long-serving Kasper Schmeichel departed in the summer for Nice, and club legend Emile Heskey admits his leadership is missed around the club.
“Kasper Schmeichel’s exit has probably had an impact in and around the training ground,” said Heskey.
“He was a very vocal player, he was the captain and he was part of the leadership group. The leadership group kind of governs the squad and he will definitely be missed in that sense.”
It has to be said that Rodgers is one of the most successful Leicester managers of the Premier League era, and he has added the FA Cup and Community Shield to the trophy cabinet – both victories that betting apps did not favour the Foxes for.
Heskey is backing Rodgers to get the club back on track, and he believes the Northern Irishman should be given more time ahead of some big games in the upcoming weeks.
“Leicester have some huge games with Crystal Palace and Leeds United coming up, and Brendan Rodgers has got the backing of the players,” said Heskey.
“It has been tough for him because going from where he has taken the club – in the sense of winning the FA Cup, winning the Community Shield, finishing in the top six and taking them to the semi-final of the UEFA Europa Conference League – to now being bottom of the table is hard.
“Leicester have been well in games up to a certain point, but then they end up conceding a goal. It seems like they need to be scoring five or six goals to be winning a game, but you are never going to score five or six.
“Defensively, they need to be sounder because I do think they play some fantastic football and James Maddison has been absolutely outstanding this season.
“But I do believe that Brendan Rodgers is the right man to turn all of this around and bring Leicester out of this slump.”
As for what is needed to arrest the current slide the club is on, Heskey was quick to draw on his own experiences when it comes to relegation battles.
“The squad needs to have a little more belief,” Heskey said earnestly.
“I’ve been in relegation battles before and there wasn’t much belief there – and that was the key thing. But I remember when we survived at Wigan, we never ever believed we were going to go down and we managed to stay up on the last day of the season.
“So, the Leicester players need that belief to know that they are going to get themselves out of it.
“Get one or two wins and suddenly everyone’s confidence is back. Their chests come out, their heads are held higher, and they are not staring down at the ground.”
Unlike most clubs who find themselves in a basement battle, scoring goals doesn’t seem to be a problem for Leicester.
In fact, the Foxes have scored more goals this term (15) than 13 other clubs who are above them in the table and that has led to punters flocking to use their Premier League free bets on them in the Both Teams To Score market.
Despite a stellar career to date with Leicester, Jamie Vardy has yet to score this season and has found his place in the starting line-up under siege from Patson Daka.
Vardy is due to turn 36 in January, but Heskey has urged the club to keep the faith with the former England frontman and he was also keen to point to the positive influence he is continuing to have on Daka.
“Jamie Vardy has been a great servant up front for Leicester City and he is missed when he is not playing because he gives you so much energy,” the club icon explained.
“He presses from the front and he’s the one that gives you an outlet as a defender or midfielder because of the runs that he makes.
“Patson Daka is learning from watching Vardy, seeing the runs that he is making and he’s asking himself how I can involve that in my game.
“Daka has got a finish in him, you saw that in his flicked goal against Nottingham Forest recently. He’s always getting in the box, so it’s all about the other side of his game now like holding the ball up.”
“I don’t know if they can play up front together, or if that’s even how the manager wants to play. But, Daka is definitely learning from watching Vardy.
“I don’t see why you wouldn’t stick with Vardy up front at the moment, but there are options, isn’t there? You can play one striker one week and the other one the next week to keep them both on their toes.
“I played until 38, so I know it’s very tough to play in the Premier League at around that age, so there’s no reason you can’t rotate the two.”
Leicester can be found at 13/10 to beat Crystal Palace with William Hill in Saturday’s early kick-off at 12.30pm, meanwhile if you fancy the Eagles to pile on the pressure by winning at the King Power Stadium you can back them at a price of 12/5.
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