Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 49: Leicester City

Manchester City travel to Leicester this weekend to take on the Premier League champions. Last season’s surprise package have made a poor start to this campaign, but will be eager to show everyone that last season was no fluke when the Blues visit the King Power Stadium.

We caught up with Leicester City fan, Charlie Carmichael, in order to get his thoughts on the fixture, and his feelings towards the two sides in general.

Hi Charlie, thanks for joining us. First of all, after last season’s heroics, what were your targets for this season? Did you have any hope of another title challenge or top four finish?

Hi Jordan, my pleasure. Personally I wanted to see us establish ourselves as a Premier League side. It sounds crazy whilst being reigning Champions but after nearly being relegated last year and in the Championship the season before that, stability is key. I didn’t harbour any ambitions of a repeat or indeed a top four challenge. Emulating the likes of Southampton, Everton and Stoke would have made me very happy.

With that in mind, what have you made of Leicester’s start to this season? A fantastic Champions League group stage has almost been cancelled out by a really poor start to the Premier League.

It really has been a tale of two stories. Seeing Champions League football at the King Power has been a surreal experience and one I will always cherish. Having qualified top of the group it looks like our fairy-tale has at least one more chapter left. On the other hand, results in the league, especially of late, have been nothing short of shambolic.

Claudio Ranieri worked miracles last season to win Leicester the Premier League, but a section of Leicester’s support are already calling for his head. Do you still have faith in Ranieri to turn things around?

It does seem to be becoming an ever more a divided camp amongst our fans. I think to a certain extent he has been unlucky with Nampalys Mendy and Kasper Schmeichel’s injuries along with Danny Drinkwater’s ban. Obviously Kante has left a massive hole but the disappointment derives from not replacing him properly and belligerently sticking to a 4-4-2 despite the fact our current central midfielders can no longer cover the necessary ground to pull the formation off. Vardy and Mahrez’s form haven’t helped the situation either but I think we should give Claudio more time. Players come back from injuries, Vardy and/or Mahrez find their feet along with a couple of January signings and it’s a very different picture.

Leicester lost N’Golo Kante to Chelsea in the summer, a loss that would hit any club hard. Players such as Islam Slimani, Ahmed Musa and Ron-Robert Zieler were brought in, but haven’t quite lived up to expectation. What did you make of the business conducted by your club over the summer?

Kante was, and remains to be in my opinion, the best defensive midfielder in the country. Replacing him fully was always going to be an impossible task. That said, our summer recruitment has been wholly underwhelming. Slimani’s goals have covered up the cracks in his all round game, Musa has yet to find his feet in England and Zieler’s performances in goal resemble that of a comedy show. There’s no doubt that losing head of recruitment Steve Walsh (responsible for signings like Vardy, Mahrez & Kante) to Everton in the summer hit us hard but it’s almost incomprehensible how poorly we’ve planned for his departure.

On to Manchester City now. What are your perceptions of the Blues as a club, both past and present?

Manchester City are certainly an intriguing club that perfectly encapsulates modern day football. In the past, having watched them rise up from the third division similar to ourselves was a nice story for any fan (bar United). The take-over in 2008 was of course begrudged by many but with Leicester not in direct competition at the time I found it fascinating. I like the owner’s wider ambitions shown through the academy and have to admit I am slightly obsessed with Pep Guardiola. I’ve read every book going on the man and I’ll be slightly in awe watching him on the side-line from the stands come Saturday.

If you could have one player join Leicester from the current Manchester City squad, who would it be and why?

A fully fit Vincent Kompany would be my first choice given the dreadful displays from the clearly ageing Robert Huth so far this season. In terms of current form, I really like Ilkay Gundogan. He has great spatial awareness, reads the game well and can drive forward when given license to. He and Drinkwater alongside a more defensively rigid centre midfielder in a 4-3-3 would be a delight to watch.

And finally, please can we have your predicted Leicester team, and your prediction for the final score on Saturday?

It will be a contest between two sides that aren’t really at their best that’s for sure. Man City are a long way off fully grasping Guardiola’s concepts of positional play and still look vulnerable to individual errors when pressed as they bring the ball out from the back. However, I’m not sure we’re currently capable of putting up much of a fight!

Leicester XI: (4-4-2) Zieler, Fuchs, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Albrighton, Mahrez, King, Amartey, Vardy, Slimani

I have to add this is the personnel I believe Ranieri will select and not who I would!

Score Prediction: Leicester 1-3 Manchester City

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