‘The Foxes have averaged just 35 per cent possession…but have created real goal-scoring opportunities’
Leicester City have made a promising start to life in the Premier League following a ten-year absence from the top tier of English football. The Foxes have yet to register a win in their first three games, and suffered defeat at Stamford Bridge, but came from behind against Arsenal and Everton to earn a draw against two top-four hopefuls. Considered relegation fodder by many, Nigel Pearson`s side sit fifteenth in the table during this September international break, having gained with two points from three games, which is a better start than many level-headed fans would have expected.
What is as impressive as the modest points tally is the manner of the performances. Leicester do not look like a team out of place in the Premier League, even in spite of the teams faced so far. The Foxes have averaged just 35 per cent possession in their opening games, but have created real goal-scoring opportunities in all three outings. Nigel Pearson adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation towards the end of their 2013/14 Championship campaign, knowing that Leicester would need to adapt at the next level, and this is already paying dividends.
A number of players have noticeably upped their game this season. Andy King and Liam Moore, who were not regular starters in the Championship, look as though they have played at this level for a number of years, and are very much making the most of their opportunities. Jeffrey Schlupp, who is being utilised more as an attacking wide player, looks more of a threat going forward than he ever has done. Riyad Mahrez appears to be the key to unlocking opposing defences. And Leo Ulloa, already with two goals to his name, is doing his very best to repay his transfer fee and win over Leicester fans at the same time.
While there are positives to be taken at this stage of the season, the real test is yet to come for Leicester City. Relegation will not be avoided in fixtures against the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea. It will be games like Hull away, three days after Christmas, and trips to Burnley and West Bromwich Albion towards the end of the season. Those will be the games that Nigel Pearson will be looking to take results from – and, with the greatest of respect, the teams that he will be looking for his players to take points away from.
Of course, each game is important, and Leicester will need to maintain the same level of performance for the rest of this season if they are to hold onto their top-flight status. But Nigel Pearson will be pleased with what he has seen from his team so far, and will hope to build on an encouraging start to life in the Premier League.