Premier League 2016/17 Preview – Leicester City

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Leicester defied all the odds to win the title last season. Image: Daily Mail

Nobody predicted Leicester’s title victory last season, with many pundits tipping them to be relegated. Somehow they have managed to keep hold of most of their key players, with only N’Golo Kante leaving the club. Jamie Vardy turned down a move to Arsenal, whilst Riyad Mahrez also looks likely to stay. It will be tough for the Foxes to retain their title, with their rivals spending vast sums of money to catch up. But the champions have not been idle, bringing in six players. Nampalys Mendy will attempt to fill the gap left by Kante, while Bartosz Kapustka will also bolster the midfield after an impressive EURO 2016 campaign. Ahmed Musa will help ease the burden on Jamie Vardy, having scored 13 in 30 games for CSKA Moscow last season, and also bagging a brace against Barcelona in pre-season. Ron-Robert Zieler has come in to provide competition for Kasper Schmeichel and Luis Hernandez will join one of the league’s strongest defences. The Foxes’ ability to keep clean sheets was at the heart of their title win, and keeping the Morgan-Huth centre back partnership together will be vital if they are to challenge once again.

Key Man: Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez’s performances for the Foxes last season saw him named PFA Player of the Year and have seen him linked with a number of high profile clubs. The Algerian contributed with 17 goals and 11 assists last time out, and he will be a key component of Leicester’s attack again this year. Keeping hold of Mahrez will probably be Leicester’s best piece of business this season.

One to Watch: Bartosz Kapustka. The centre midfielder has joined the Foxes for £7.5m, and could prove value for money based upon his performances for Poland. Although he may initially struggle to break in to the team, at 19 years old Kapustka has plenty of time to develop. He could settle well in to the Premier League, having impressed against British opposition when Poland beat Northern Ireland at the Euros.

Last Season: 1st

Prediction: 6th

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Vardy right to be sent off, but those penalties were shockers

Leicester’s 2-2 draw with West Ham was certainly packed with controversy, mostly surrounding the performance of referee Jon Moss. Moss gave Jamie Vardy a second yellow card for diving, whilst also awarding both teams soft penalties.

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Jamie Vardy is shown a red card after diving. Image: Mirror Sport

Jamie Vardy’s sending off has proved controversial, but the replays suggest that the referee made the right call. After getting the wrong side of West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna, Vardy looked to move his legs to initiate the contact.

Whether Vardy should have been in that position has also been debated, with replays showing that his first yellow card should not have been given. The striker slid in on Cheikhou Kouyate but did not make contact, with the West Ham midfielder tripping over Vardy after the tackle had been made.

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Replays show that Vardy initiated the contact with Angelo Ogbonna. Image: Mirror Sport

The referee then preceded to give two of the softest penalties that you will see this season. With 6 minutes remaining, West Ham were awarded a penalty for an adjudged foul on Winston Reid from a corner. Despite the referee warning the Leicester defenders before the corner, if you are going to give penalties for holding from corners, you have to be consistent with it. Not only are these decisions not given by the majority of referees, they have not been given this season. That’s not to mention the fact that there were a further two instances in this match alone where a penalty was not given for even more blatant obstruction in the box. Furthermore, there was minimal contact on Reid, who threw himself to the floor.

Leicester’s stoppage time penalty also should not have been given. Andy Carroll was adjudged to have brought down Jeffrey Schlupp as he burst in to the box, but, as with the West Ham penalty, there was very little contact. This came just minutes after the referee missed an appeal for a Leicester penalty for a blatant foul on Huth, and with the crowd on his back, it looks like he was trying to even it out.

What’s your opinion on these incidents? Did the referee get them wrong? Have your say in the comments.