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BT Sport's Premier League 2017/18 season preview: Leicester City

Everything you need to know about Leicester City ahead of the 2017/18 Premier League season on BT Sport.

FOOTBALL 09/08/17 14:26
Leicester City

Last season: 12th

The irony is that, had you offered them a 12th place finish and a run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League before a ball was kicked last season, the majority of Leicester City fans would probably have taken it.

The issue was how they got there. While their European form exceeded expectations from the off, their Premier League campaign stuttered and looked in serious danger of imploding.

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Such was their domestic woe that Claudio Ranieri, the charismatic Italian who had masterminded their 5000-1 title winning bid the year before, was sacked in February with the fanbase bitterly divided on whether it was the right thing to do.

From a results point of view at least, the change proved to be a success, with Ranieri’s understudy Craig Shakespeare guiding the club to a comfortable mid-table finish.

What happens now is anyone’s guess. Free from the ‘burden’ of European football the Foxes could once again surprise everyone and again challenge the top six, although much will depend on what happens with Riyad Mahrez.

While the club’s failure to effectively replace N’Golo Kante clearly hurt them last season, Leicester have at least made some smart looking signings this time around.

Vicente Iborra, signed from Sevilla for £15million, is an experienced defensive midfielder who could fill the Kante shaped hole.
Young striker Kelechi Iheanacho has looked dangerous every time he got onto the pitch at Manchester City, while Harry Maguire was the standout performer in a poor Hull City side last season.

Where they will end up is uncertain, but if last season is anything to go by the journey will be just as important as the destination.

Glass half full: Leicester still have the majority of the squad that won the Premier League in 2016 and, without the distraction of Champions League football, will be free to concentrate on their domestic form this time. Craig Shakespeare seems to have solved whatever issues there were within the dressing room while Harry Maguire and Kelechi Iheanacho both look to be excellent signings.

Glass half empty: Riyad Mahrez seems determined to push through a transfer to Roma and the playmaker would be very difficult to replace if the deal comes off before the transfer window shuts. The Foxes have a relatively tough start and if they fail to pick up early points it may be difficult to rediscover the winning habit.

New kids on the block: Harry Maguire – Hull City, Sam Hughes – Chester, Vicente Iborra – Sevilla, Eldin Jakupovic – Hull, Kelechi Iheanacho – Manchester City.

Left the building: Ron-Robert Zieler – Stuttgart, Michael Cain – released, David Domej – released, Brandon Fox – released, Cedric Kipre – Motherwell, Matthew Miles – released, Kairo Mitchell – released, Marcin Wasilewski – released, Bartosz Kapustka – Freiburg (loan).

The gaffer: Craig Shakespeare – A key member of Claudio Ranieri’s backroom team that won the Premier League the year before, Shakespeare took the reins following the Italian’s sacking in February. The 53-year-old steadied the ship in the league, easing the club’s relegation worries, and led the club through some memorable nights in the Champions League.

Star man: Jamie Vardy – The striker was less prolific last season but still contributed 16 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions. The England forward should benefit from a reduced workload and at his best is still one of the most dangerous forwards in the division.

One to watch: Kelechi Iheanacho – The youngster arrived from Manchester City for a club-record fee believed to be in the region of £25million. His goals-per-game record is impressive and he will relish the opportunity to play more first team football than he was getting under Pep Guardiola. How Leicester get him in the same team as Vardy remains to be seen, however.

Betting preview

Premier League Title Odds: 200/1

Top Four Odds: 25/1

Relegation Odds: 14/1

Top Goalscorer Odds: Jamie Vardy 4/7

Star Bet: The 2015/16 champions fell back to earth with a bump last year as relegation was a serious threat to the club until new boss Craig Shakespeare got the side back in form in the second half of the season. Jamie Vardy has been the club’s top league goalscorer over the past two seasons with 24 and 13 goals respectively, but the goalscoring burden will be shared with £25million-man Kelechi Iheanacho, who joins from Manchester City. The Nigerian has a hugely impressive strike rate and could become the main man at the King Power Stadium. Leicester City top league goalscorer – Kelechi Iheanacho 3/1

First five games: Arsenal (A), Brighton & Hove Albion (H), Manchester United (A), Chelsea (H), Huddersfiled (A).

Highlights: Liverpool 4-2 Hoffenheim (agg: 6-3)

Highlights: Liverpool 4-2 Hoffenheim (agg: 6-3)

Highlights: Liverpool 4-2 Hoffenheim (agg: 6-3)

Highlights: Liverpool 4-2 Hoffenheim (agg: 6-3)

Highlights: Liverpool 4-2 Hoffenheim (agg: 6-3)

Highlights: Liverpool 4-2 Hoffenheim (agg: 6-3)

Emre Can scores twice, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino also on target, as Liverpool c...

Emre Can scores twice, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino also on target, as Liverpool cruise into the group stages ...

Emre Can scores twice, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino also on target, as Liverpool cru...

Emre Can scores twice, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino also on target, as Liverpool cruise into the group stages of the UEFA Champions League at the expense of the Bundesliga side.

Emre Can scores twice, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino also on target, as Liverpool cruise into the group stages of the UEFA Champions League at the expense of the Bundesliga side.

Emre Can scores twice, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino also on target, as Liverpool cruise into the group stages of the UEFA Champions League at the expense of the Bundesliga side.

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