Premier League English

The Leicester Awakening

While most eyes are fixated on scrutinizing the gap in points between Liverpool and Manchester City, a dark horse is beginning to make its presence felt.

With a sensational 4-1 trouncing of Aston Villa, Leicester City is quietly making its presence felt as a team undergoing evolution under the watchful eyes of Brendan Rodgers. There’s a feeling in the atmosphere over East Midlands that Rodgers has his own designs to craft himself a team extraordinaire. He’s sparing no efforts and exploring all avenues to make Leicester City an even better team than they are now.

Leicester exhibited new refinements in their game as they carved open the Aston Villa defence and drove home the four goals in convincing style through Jamie Vardy twice on counter-attack, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jonny Evans finding the net from a corner kick. Truly spectacular goals. Even the goal attempts that did not make it were sessational efforts, particularly the ones through James Maddison, substitute Harvey Barnes and Caglar Soyuncu, the latter forcing Tom Heaton to exceute his spectacular save.

“That was the beauty of today,” said Rodgers. “We showed different ways to score goals.” He was absolutely delighted to have broken Leicester’s record for top-flight wins consecutively. Villa boss Dean Smith was only being honest when he admitted Leicester could easily have scored eight.

The course of the match provided invaluable insights into Leicester’s ability to play using different formations and not just depending on harnessing the best of their fluid counter-attacking style in unison with their finely-honed passing game that is second to none in the land. He actually opted for a diamond formation against Aston Villa, besides adding tweaks that could have looked incongruous with a team that’s racked up seven Premier League match wins before this.

“I said when I first came in that having tactical flexibility is so important,” Rodgers said. “The style will always stay the same, how we want to build the game, how we want to play. But having that ability to change systems and give teams different problems is how we want to work.”

“We did it in pre-season in our preparation phase so that we could lay in some principles for that. We felt we have never really had to use it until this point, but the players carried it out ever so well. The players were so good in how they coped with it.”

The teams sitting beneath Leicester should rightly be concerned about the way Rodgers’ squad is rapidly shaping up. The Leicester side is young, with lots of scope for improvement both individually and collectively.

Rodgers was perhaps a tad too humble when he said, “I don’t think anyone expects us to be anywhere near the top.”

How could that ever be true, especially now? Let’s not forget they have the League’s top scorer in their ranks. Not to mention that they also happen to have the best defensive record in the Premier League. Plus the mentality and the stamina to keep going.

That should about say it all.