Premier League

The Foxes have lost their bite - but so have their opponents

 • by Harry Gray
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If you’re in the market for goal mouth entertainment from your Premier League matches, steering clear of Leicester City games in recent weeks would have been a wise decision.

The Foxes have battened down the hatches at the back and only two of their last nine games in all competitions have ended with a team winning by at least two clear goals – a run of results which has featured five draws at the end of normal time in the league and Carabao Cup.

The tightening up of the City defence came in the wake of a 1-1 home draw with West Ham United at the King Power and has seen Leicester become one of the Premier League’s more frugal sides.

In the eight games since the meeting with the Hammers, Leicester have conceded at a rate of 0.75 goals per game, which is down from 1.88 in the 17 games stretching back to a meeting with Brighton in late March.

Solid without ‘Slabhead’

That figure is lower than the rate which Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Chelsea, who finished third, fourth and fifth respectively, conceded throughout the 2017/18 campaign.

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The enforced loss of Harry Maguire to injury, which saw the centre-back ruled out from the start of November and only return at Crystal Palace on Saturday, has bizarrely coincided with Leicester’s renewed stability.

The England international had played every minute of Leicester’s league games before the clash with United, but that figure has dropped drastically to 28.8 per cent since.

Jonny Evans came in as an immediate replacement and has made six of his nine Premier League outings during the City No.15’s absence.

Puel has also moved away from experimenting with his defensive unit in that time and has stuck with a back four, having used three at the back on occasion previously this season.

Conversely to Maguire’s depleted minutes, Marc Albrighton has enjoyed more game time and added energy to the Foxes midfield. Albrighton certainly adds a willing runner for the Foxes and he averages 1.92 tackles per 90 minutes this season as well as 1.21 interceptions.

Stopping the goals… at both ends

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Foxes boss Claude Puel has clearly looked to tighten things up, but doing so has had a detrimental impact at the other end, with City scoring just six goals in their last eight games, a return which is the 17th lowest in the Premier League.

They are, though, creating opportunities in keeping with their mid-table standing and have had 12 big chances – the 10th most in the league during that time period.

The lack of goals is not for the want of trying, however, and Leicester are actually shooting more in recent weeks (13.37 per game) compared with 12.11 across the entirety of this season.

Foxes fans have a reason for hope, though. Their measly scoring record in recent weeks has seen them score just 36 per cent of their expected goals tally, an absurd underperformance that is sure to right itself soon.

They’ve been getting decent results throughout this difficult run and, if their goal-scoring rate picks up, they might be able to hit a run of form over the festive period.

All in all, Leicester may not be the greatest entertainers in the Premier League, but they have hit on a balanced defensive approach which is getting the desired results.

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