Inside Track: Leicester City

By SFC Media time Wed 22 Aug Saints v Leicester
Photo by Michael Regan | Getty Images

We get the lowdown on Southampton's opponents in the Premier League this weekend from Leicester Mercury's Rob Tanner.

It’s one win and one defeat so far for Leicester, how have they set up in those encounters?

City have started the season with a similar formation to last season, a 4-2-3-1, but have changed personnel. New signing Ricardo Pereira was used as a right winger at Manchester United but stepped back into right-back against Wolves, while Jonny Evans replaced captain Wes Morgan at the heart of the defence last weekend. Jamie Vardy didn’t start at Old Trafford because he had only just returned to training after the World Cup, but replaced Kelechi Iheanacho last week, while Papy Mendy made his first start for City for 19 months in midfield alongside Wilfred Ndidi.

In terms of the summer additions, who has stood out most so far?

We have only really seen James Maddison and Ricardo so far, although Evans made his debut last week. Maddison looks an excellent signing. City have tried to play with a number ten without really having anyone who could naturally fill the role until they signed Maddison from Norwich in the summer. He can find space in the hole and is always positive, looking to turn towards goal and thread passes. Puel has urged him to shoot more too and he did that on Saturday to score his first goal for the club. Ricardo is an attacking full-back who loves to get forward and can deliver dangerous crosses. He has started well too.

Jamie Vardy is ruled out for this one having being shown a red card against Wolves, who is most likely to replace him and how much of an effect will that have?

Iheanacho is expected to come in for Vardy as City don’t have too many options at centre forward right now, having let Leonardo Ulloa, Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani leave. Iheanacho had a great pre-season, scoring four times in three games, and he was looking sharp but Vardy remains City’s main striker and his absence is a blow as he epitomises what City are about.

Claude Puel was said to be under pressure at the end of last season due his playing style but seems to have been backed in the summer, what is the mood like around the club at the moment?

There is a section of the City supporters who have not taken to Puel. City’s indifferent form in the second half of last season left some to voice their displeasure on social media and the home defeat to West Ham United left Puel and the players to conduct their end of season lap of appreciation to a near empty stadium.

The mood then wasn’t good and there was media speculation that Puel was to be replaced, but the owners have backed him. He has invested £100 million into the squad and is building his team. The owners have said it is a transitional phase in terms of the style of play as well and they appear to be patient. Early performances have led to more positivity but a run of defeats and Puel’s critics will return.

What kind of match are you expecting?

Different to last season. That victory was voted City’s performance of the season but I think it will be much tougher for City this time, despite the slow start Saints have made so far. Both sides look like they will need time to settle into the season and City certainly may need a few weeks before the new signings bed in and we start to see some consistency in selection. There is an unpredictable nature about them at the moment.

What do you feel the aspirations are and would be considered a successful campaign for the Foxes?

Although they finished ninth, which many fans would have taken at the start of the season, in the context of the second half of the season and what they could have achieved, it all felt like an opportunity missed. Seventh spot and Europa League qualification was definitely on the cards but City couldn’t capitalise on Burnley’s poor run.

It was the same in the cups as they went out in the quarter finals of both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup after penalties and extra time to Manchester City and Chelsea respectively. Winning the title has raised expectations and City fans want to see the club competing for Europe again. The FA Cup also remains the elusive holy grail for the club. City have never won it and it would complete their domestic set.


Quiz: Saints, Leicester, both or neither?
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