After Chelsea’s Premier League title win, everyone thought they were untouchable, the best team in England by far. When asked which team they thought would win the league in 2015/16, sports writers were generally of the opinion that José Mourinho’s champions would breeze to the top again without any problems.
Leicester City also won the league in impressive style, so why is nobody talking about them in the same way?
The Foxes are the reigning champions, but few are considering them as contenders to retain the accolade. In fact, at the time of writing 32Red are offering odds of 30/1 for Claudio Ranieri’s men to win the league, and Betdaq have gone further than that with odds of 32/1. Chelsea’s dire title defense could actually be a factor that is dissuading people from backing Leicester to do it again, as it showed how a group of players that had formed a solid title-winning side could fall apart easily and completely.
There is also the fact that Leicester could still lose key players before the transfer window closes. N’Golo Kanté, such a pivotal, controlling cog in the midfield last season, has already moved to Chelsea, and Riyad Mahrez has indicated that he would be open to offers. If Leicester are to have any hope of retaining the title, they will need to keep hold of the Algerian wizard who was the stand-out player in the league last season. There is a chance that the 25-year-old may favour a switch to Arsenal, however, and 10Bet are offering odds of 11/5 for the deal to go through.
Luckily Ranieri managed to keep hold of Jamie Vardy, his top goal scorer from the previous campaign. The Italian has also been busy in the transfer window, and will be hoping that the new acquisitions will turn out to be as shrewd as some of the other deals that the club has managed to secure in the past. Indeed, if Vardy has the supply from his teammates and can carry on his form from last season (see video below), Leicester have a good chance of at least a top-four finish.
Unfortunately for those who enjoyed the underdog story, it’s looking like the wealthy powerhouses may be about to reset the equilibrium. After getting caught with their pants down last season, Manchester City and Manchester United have undergone some serious restructuring. The clubs have enlisted the services of elite managers in Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho. Both of them have done restructuring work in the transfer windows to make their sides as formidable as possible. Man City are 12/5 to win the title with 32Red, and United are 3/1 with 10Bet and Marathon Bet.
Leicester were able to field a core group of players week in, week out during their title run-in and the manager who was once known as “The Tinkerman” had to give up his moniker. This was down to the fact that Ranieri didn’t have to rotate players to cope with commitments in other cups, and could focus purely on the league. Because of this, they also had very few injuries. Having the same group of players every week enabled the Foxes to gain momentum and develop team spirit, which pushed them to victory.
In the new campaign, Leicester will be faced with the challenge of competing in the Champions League for the first time, though, and there is no doubt that the players will be rotated to cope with the midweek fixtures. With this in mind, Ranieri may choose to prioritise one competition over the other.
All things considered, it may be wise not to back Leicester to retain the title. But then again, they have defied the odds before, and could still be in the process of writing their fairy tale.