The Curious Rise of Leicester City and the Part Their Opponents Hubris has played in their success

Brian Murray looks at Leicester City’s tremendous run to the top of the EPL table and questions the Hubris of their opponents.

I’m going to start off by clearly stating that Leicester City are top of the league on merit. They’ve won their big games and nobody can argue with that and i genuinely hope they can keep it going to become Premier League champions.

I’m going to put forward some theories as to why Leicester’s “perfect storm” has come about. I’ll start with the manager. A LOT of eyebrows were raised last summer when Claudio Ranieri was appointed as manager, especially as he had been sacked in relative disgrace from his job as Greece national team coach after a disastrous Euro qualifying campaign that saw them slump to defeat against the Faroe islands. This didn’t seem to bother Ranieri as he just shrugged it off and quietly got on with his work. Leicester’s players have responded brilliantly to Ranieri and his stripped down version of fast paced, direct counterattacking football.

Ranieri was labelled as “the tinkerman” earlier in his career, particularly at Chelsea, for his consistent chopping and changing of the team and sometimes formation. Ironically, at Leicester this season he has been the exact opposite of “the tinkerman”. He evaluated his squad and quickly settled on a tactic/formation/strategy and the best XI to carry it out, he trusts the players and they in turn trust the him and the system.

DEFENCE

Huth has been a sensation for Leicester

Huth has been a sensation for Leicester

Ranieri’s Leicester play a 4-4-2 formation, with Robert Huth and Wes Morgan at centre back. Two big strong men who will deal with anything sent into the box on the ground or in the air, their Achilles heel is their lack of pace and the danger they’ll be exposed if balls are played in behind them. The beauty of Leicester’s deep lying counter attacking 4-4-2 is that they rarely ever get exposed. (an example of Ranieri tailoring his tactics/formation to his players instead of the other way round) At right and left back they have Danny Simpson and the excellent Christian Fuchs (Giggity) a back four that is worth considerably more than the sum of its parts that are comfortable with opponents playing football in front of them. Add to this the on form Kasper Schmeichel and you have a confident solid defence.

MIDFIELD

Mahrez is the Fantasy Football king

Mahrez is the Fantasy Football king

Leicester play four in midfield with obviously Mahrez grabbing most of the headlines for some of the amazing goals and assists this term, (plus some skills you only see when getting battered online by some little git from Belgium on FIFA16 **Dolphin_Trainer04 i hate you**)

Kanté has also really impressed me this season with his ball winning and drive, as these two are ably assisted by the slightly unheralded Albrighton and Drinkwater who just never stop. Like the defence, this quartet trust each other and work tirelessly for each other which, again, is a credit to the manager.

FORWARDS

Chat Shit - Get Banged

Chat Shit – Get Banged

A couple of seasons ago a very good but not amazing Liverpool side, managed by Brendan Rodgers, almost won the league (some would say they actually threw it away). A major reason for Liverpool’s title charge that season was the unbelievable form and goal scoring prowess of Luis Suarez. Leicester City have Jamie Vardy in “Roy of the Rovers” mode this season. Now I’m not comparing Suarez and Vardy I just wanted to point out that a striker in ridiculously good goal scoring form can propel a team towards a tilt at the league title. Where Vardy & Suarez are similar is that they’re pests for defenders to deal with (they both also have questionable race relations records). Vardy always offers himself for the quick ball in behind defenders from short and long balls and is in the form of his life. Partnering Vardy has been Okazaki who also makes a nuisance of himself and does a lot of unselfish running chipping in with vital goals & assists. Ulloa has been very disappointing this year, making a few cameo appearances after a great first season.

SMELLS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT

Team work has been key to success

Team work has been key to success

For a league that is awash with money & big names it’s amazing that Leicester’s regular starting XI cost £22m, but they have good professionals and an amazing team spirit with no destructive egos in the dressing room. They have a manager who has picked a system that suits the players at the club, make no mistake Leicester City are here on merit.

HUBRIS?

 {excessive pride or self confidence}

I have a theory….. now here me out, i reckon Leicester City could be about to win the league partly because their opponents hubris. Allow me to explain……

If you go back to the start of the season and look at some of the teams that would have seen themselves at the same level as or marginally superior to Leicester City, you would probably have come up with names like Everton, West Brom, Swansea, Crystal Palace, Newcastle etc….. Leicester have wiped the floor with these teams. Their Hubris caused all of them to make the fatal mistake of underestimating Leicesters awesome fast paced counterattacking game plan and leaving themselves too open.

Leicester under Ranieri don’t care about possession stats or for that matter pass completion statistics either, they’re very happy to be underestimated and also happy for their opponents to have the ball almost coaxing them into over committing and BOOM…. Leicester launch a counter attack. This game plan would explain the low possession stats and the below average pass completion rate as they routinely forego the “safe” pass in favour of getting the ball from back to front quickly into Vardy and Mahrez. Getting the ball forward quickly to lightning quick attackers when your opponent has over committed is such a simple but effective strategy.

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Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

The so called “big teams” are just as guilty of Hubris. They’ve been caught out even worse in my opinion, they have shown almost disrespect  by simply overlooking Leicesters tactics, formation and calculated cost of their players…… and surmised that they’d be able to just steamroll this £22m “rag tag team”.

Liverpool, Stoke and Man City have all been well beaten recently by getting sucked in by their own hype.

In contrast to this, look at the teams around the bottom of the league that would consider Leicester City better than them. Aston Villa and Bournemouth gave Leicester respect, defended deep and frustrated Leicester. Villa getting a much needed draw and  Bournemouth (2 draws) have taken 4 points off Leicester, which is the most anyone has taken off them so far this season….all because they respected their potential threat and shut them down considerably.

I must stress that even if my “Hubris theory” is true Leicester City still had to go and win these game, which they did with great style & team spirit. Most neutrals, myself included, would love to see Leicester City keep it going and lift the league title…… especially with all the money in the game now, i think it would genuinely be good for football.

WILL LEICESTER WIN THE LEAGUE? DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH BRYAN? COMMENT BELOW OR TWEET US @90MINUTECYNIC

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