Just as I was beginning to forget what supporting a team in form felt like, we got 3 wins in a row. We didn't even particularly deserve the first 2, yet here we are. If the hallmark of a good team is their ability to win even when they don't deserve it, then by Jove are we a good team.
Now that's been scientifically proven, let's turn our attention towards the hosts Leicester. Amazingly, they've made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League. They're League form however lacks a lot to be desired, with only 1 win in 6. Now I don't want to get ahead of myself, "just like my dreams" and all that, but will 2+2=4?
I spoke to Shane Evans from Fosse Posse, our Leicester sister-site, to get all the details we need ahead of the New Year's Eve clash.
So last year was pretty good weren't it. Coming into this season, what were your expectations?
Honestly, I’m not far off in my thinking. I didn’t think we’d be anywhere near the heights of last year and despite retaining a number of key players, the loss of N’Golo Kante has been absolutely devastating. The midfield has been pretty disappointing this year and as such, the other ends of the pitch have suffered accordingly.
Having said that, there is still plenty of time for the club to right itself…and I think it will do that. I hoped that the Champions League would present the club with a solid draw, which it did, and it has given fans a reason to be hopeful after a upsetting league campaign. Expectations are a funny thing.
You appear to be "doing a Leicester" in the Champions League while struggling in the League. Is this fair? What are your expectations now?
I’d like to think the club can keep going with the Champions League. Sevilla is a tough draw but a favorable one nonetheless. I think they can continue to play well in that tournament and perhaps move on…but these next handful of matches between the start of that round and now are vital. Expectations? I’d expect the club to finally figure things out and string a few positive results together.
Bit of a broad one but how do you see Leicester progressing from here? Can you become European regulars?
Doesn’t seem likely that we’ll be back in the Champions League next season unless we do the remarkable and win the damn thing. I think they can beat Sevilla…I really do. What happens beyond that is anyone’s guess. Regardless, it’ll be a tough road as this season has left way more questions than answers thus far.
How will you set up? Who should we be scared of?
It seems that Ranieri will be keeping with the 4-4-2 that has served him so well in the past. With Riyad Mahrez ‘rested’ against Everton, expect him back in the starting XI. More of a butter knife than a dagger these days, Mahrez will be asked to step up in the coming months but he will always be a threat. The only player absent should be Jamie Vardy who will serve the second match of his three-match ban (pfft!) so striking options look like Islam Slimani and Shinji Okazaki, two dangerous forwards in their own right.
How should we set up? What are your weaknesses?
Well considering Leicester has about as many points this year (17) as their average possession percentage (I kid…but they never seem to have the ball!) attacking the flanks to get the ball into the Hammers big bodies seems like a good plan of attack. Ben Chilwell had an outstanding match at left-back for the Foxes but it’s likely that experienced defender Christian Fuchs will return to the lineup. Coupled with Danny Simpson, the pair that were so impressive last season, have seemed rather ordinary this year…not to mention a step behind. You’ll find joy down the outsides.
Finally, what are your starting XI and score predictions?
Leicester should lineup something like this:
Schmeichel; Fuchs, Morgan, Huth, Simpson; Albrighton, Drinkwater, King, Mahrez, Okazaki, Slimani
My prediction? I think the Foxes FINALLY start to turn it around with a gritty 2-1 win at the KP.
Massive thank you to Shane for taking the time to answer some questions. We did the same thing over on Fosse Posse so make sure to go and check it out!