Brendan Rodgers’s Leicester City were involved in one hell of a rollercoaster ride in last seasons Premier League. In the top-flights first 11-month-long campaign, the Foxes played their best football since the miracle season, where they rocked world football by storming to the Premier League title.
Leicester City 2019/20 Season Review
A Strong Campaign for the Foxes
In a season where key players were lost to injuries or transferred out at the start, Leicester were stunning. They sat comfortably in the top four for most of the season, mixing attacking brilliance with defensive solidity.
Leicester were simply outstanding in the first half of the season. They were second-placed at the turn of the year and looked ready to mount a serious title challenge. However, they faded in the second half. Although they declined, Brendan Rodgers and his young exciting team performed brilliantly and gave the fans everything to cheer for.
Leicester City finished the 2018/19 season in ninth place, failing to secure European football for the third year running. The Foxes finished with 52 points, only edging out 10th-placed West Ham United on goal difference. They lost more games than they won and only scored three goals more than the 48 goals conceded. Coming into the 2019/20 season, a place in Europe was the goal for Leicester City, and it was achieved.
Southampton 0-9 Leicester City
Leicester City steamrolled 10-man Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium en route to equaling the Premier League’s 24-year-old record for the biggest win ever.
Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Pérez both registered a hat-trick, while Ben Chilwell, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison were on the scoresheet for the visitors. With the emphatic victory, the Foxes leapfrogged Manchester City to sit second-placed, just five points behind runaway league leaders, Liverpool.
The win infused a high level of confidence and belief, and they would go on to take 26 points from the next 11 games. It was a blistering run in which the Brendan Rodgers’s men only lost to Manchester City and Liverpool.
Leicester City 0-2 Manchester United
This was the most decisive game in Leicester’s race for a top-four finish. They came into this decisive final-day showdown knowing their fate sat in their own hands. A win would comfortably secure them the sought-after Champions League spot, while, should Chelsea fail to secure a win, a draw would be enough.
Both sides had their share of chances in the first half, but none were converted. Once Chelsea took the lead at Stamford Bridge, Leicester needed a victory to ensure their season-long effort paid off. After a lackluster performance, Manchester United dashed the Foxes hopes of a top-four finish with a 2-0 victory at the King Power Stadium.
If anything, Kasper Schmeichel’s fumbled dribble that led to the Red’s second goal summed up how Leicester closed out their season.
What Went Wrong?
At the turn of the new year, Leicester City were looking like serious title challengers. They sat comfortably in second place, nine points behind league leaders Liverpool and six points ahead of Manchester City. With a 14-point cushion in the top four, Brendan Roger’s side looked destined for a top-four finish, at worst.
However, they failed to replicate that outstanding form in the second half of the season and soon set into a gradual, non-stop, disappointing collapse. After spending 325 days in the top-four, the Foxes fell into the Europa League. A sour end to an incredible campaign. What went wrong?
When a team loses its key players to injuries, it changes team dynamics and drops the confidence in the squad, and there’s only so much the back-ups can do. This was the case for Leicester City. Since N’golo Kante’s departure, Wilfred Ndidi has fit into the Frenchman’s role like a glove. He led the Premier League stats for tackles and interceptions, playing a key role in Brendan Rodgers’s defensive set up. With the Nigerian international sidelined through injury, Leicester’s midfield gave way.
Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell – the best full-back pairing in the league bar Liverpool’s – also had their fair share of Injury. Both Ndidi and Pereira led the league for tackles per game, but with the Portuguese picking up a season-ending knee ligament injury in March, the Foxes lost two crucial first-team players. Ben Chilwell missed the final six games of the season due to a heel injury. He and Pereira played a key part in Leicester City’s tactics, but with both players ruled out, Leicester lost a chunk of their attacking threat. They had created a combined 116 chances in the Premier League.
The break in the Premier League, and world football at large, undoubtedly did more harm than good for Leicester City. They lost the plot, their momentum and form. They picked only nine points from nine games post the restart. With Manchester United and Chelsea hot on their tail, the Foxes fell to back-to-back draws against Watford and Brighton, which was followed by a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park. A comfortable 3-0 victory against Crystal Palace followed, but Brendan Rodgers was unable to build on that victory. They struggled for a 1-1 draw against 10-man Arsenal before an abysmal 4-1 loss to relegation-threatened Bournemouth.
The Cherries loss was arguably the final nail in Leicester’s coffin. Even though they defeated Sheffield United next, their final two games were though fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester United, which they ultimately lost.
Brendan Rodgers’s Mentality Under Pressure
Rodgers has done an amazing job with Leicester City. Since taking over from Claude Puel in 2019, he has taken his side to new heights, grooming them into one of the most exciting teams in the league. However, questions have been raised over Roger’s mentality and ability to close out strong, especially in pressured situations.
Exactly six years ago, the Leicester City boss was on course to clinch the Premier League title with Liverpool. With seven points needed from the final three games to seal the title, his side folded. This season, Leicester were in pole position to finish in the top-four. However, a 14-point cushion between them and fifth place was somehow blown away. Lacklustre performances were too rampant, and the Leicester boss seemed to be out of ideas and answers.
Players of The Season
Jamie Vardy’s Stars Again
In a Player of the Season campaign for Leicester, Jamie Vardy was once again phenomenal. The Englishman, who spearheaded Leicester’s 2016 title run, this time around, led a young and inexperienced attacking unit. His ruthlessness, electrifying pace and eye for goal played a huge role in pushing Leicester side up the table and sustain them in the top-four places.
The 33-year-old striker scored 23 goals for Leicester, the highest of the 2019/20 Premier League season, as he claimed his first Golden Boot award. He also became the latest member of the Premier League 100-goal club and the first Leicester player to reach that achievement.
Vardy also showed his creative touch by registering five assists. He proved that even at 33, he poses a more attacking threat than most Premier League forwards.
Harvey Barnes: Young Player of the Season
Harvey Barnes has become one of the most thrilling youngsters to watch in the Premier League. The 22-year-old is a product of Leicester City’s youth system, having been at the club since the age of nine.
Barnes was also groomed, developed and ultimately matured into the exciting player he is through a successful loan system. While on loan at West Bromwich Albion, his stellar outings for the Baggies caught the eye of many across the league. By January, he was recalled by Leicester City, as he proved too valuable to be out on loan. Since then, Barnes has become a regular in the Foxes first team.
Last season, his first full season at the King Power Stadium, Barnes made 36 appearances, with 24 of them as a starter. He forged a superb partnership with Ben Chilwell down the left-hand side of the pitch. The winger was Leicester’s second-best goal contributor with six goals and eight assists, only behind Jamie Vardy. His stock has continued to rise, and he has emerged a major contender to make Gareth Southgate’s England Euro squad.
Caglar Soyuncu Revelation
After losing Harry Maguire to Manchester United, Caglar Soyuncu was tasked with filling the void left in the heart of Leicester City’s defence. The 24-year-old defender did a sublime job as he replaced Maguire’s influence and contributions effortlessly. While Vardy was busy on the frontline, Soyuncu did the dirty work at the back. The Turkey international formed a devastating centre-back pairing with veteran defender Jonny Evans. This was arguably the best centre-back pairing in the league.
An Exciting Future Awaits
Looking into the future, Leicester City have a young and vibrant crop of players capable of performing at the top for years to come. With an average squad age of 25.9 years, eight of their 11 most regular starters are between the ages of 23 and 26. The likes of Jamie Vardy and Jonny Evans would provide the needed experience, while with head coach Brendan Rodgers at the helm, the Leicester City fans can expect to see more exciting football at the King Power Stadium for years to come.