Stoke Draw May Just Inspire Toothless Foxes

Leicester City

We were reminded on Sunday evening at the 2016 BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony, where Leicester won the Team of the Year, that last season was not a dream. The Foxes did do the impossible and somehow as 5000/1 underdogs achieved the biggest sporting upset ever by lifting the Premier League title.

In many respects, whatever happens this season doesn’t really matter. Nobody will ever be able to take away what Claudio Ranieri’s side achieved in the 2015/16 campaign. Sadly it is safe to say lightning is not going to strike for a second consecutive year as their bid this time looks to be over before Christmas.

Where Leicester have surprised again this season is in the Champions League. The Premier League champions topped their group and will now face Sevilla in the last 16 in February. Given the Foxes are 50/1 to win the Champions League it is probably unlikely, however the club still faces the prospect of winning Europe’s most prestigious competition and being relegated from the Premier League in the same season.

Ranieri, who was also voted Coach of the Year at the 2016 BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony, does have a big job on his hands if his side are to avoid the drop at the end of the campaign.

Leicester picked up their first league win since October when they beat Manchester City 4-2 recently. It was a performance which reminded us all of the Foxes last season. They were full of energy, dangerous on the counter-attack and Jamie Vardy was scoring goals again.

They were unable to build on that result when they travelled to Bournemouth just days later as they went down 1-0 to the Cherries in a flat display. Marc Pugh’s first-half strike was enough to separate the two sides at Dean Court.

Things looked like they were going to get worse for Ranieri’s men last weekend when they were losing 2-0 to Stoke. They were down to 10 men in that game as Vardy was shown his marching orders for a careless tackle in the first half. Against all the odds though, something which Leicester seem to do very well, they were able to rescue a point from the game after goals from Leonardo Ulloa and Daniel Amartey made the final result 2-2.

It is clear the loss of N’Golo Kante, who signed for Chelsea in the summer, has really hurt the Foxes this season. The Frenchman is excelling at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea are in pole position when it comes to the race for the title.

Although they are without Kante, we must remember this is the same Leicester team of last season. Vardy surprisingly turned down an approach from Arsenal just before Euro 2016, while the real star of the 2015/16 campaign Riyad Mahrez is still with the club.

The draw against Stoke might just be the catalyst Ranieri’s side needed. They can forget about the Champions League until February and just concentrate on moving up the Premier League table with some position results over the next few weeks.