With this weekend’s trip to Colchester called off due to international call-ups, it’s a good opportunity to take stock of the season so far. Some facts have been repeated many times before but are worth doing so again; Leicester are unbeaten in League One and possess the best defensive record in the division.
Nigel Pearson has been named Manager of the Month, and deservedly so. He’s produced results, but much more importantly he’s changed the atmosphere around the Walkers Stadium. This season the club feels like the home of professionals. What Pearson lacks in a sense of humour, he makes up for with a sense of direction.
Some players have performed way above expectations. Matty Fryatt in particular has made a mockery of his career record of 0.26 goals per game with six goals in six appearances.
Others have provided just what was hoped of them. Max Gradel and Lloyd Dyer have excited the Foxes faithful with an energy and creativity not seen at the Walkers since the days of Muzzy Izzet. Michael Morrison deserves attention too having stepped up two divisions and coped admirably. Morrison has no doubt aided by the experience of Alexander Tunchev and the ability of Jack Hobbs.
The numbers say this has equalled City’s best start to a season in the post-war era, but there are also other telling statistics…
In all games but the JPT trip to Hartlepool, City have made more attempts on goal than their opponents. City have made 81 efforts on goal so far this season with just over half (43) being on target. By contrast, Leicester’s opponents have managed just 43 attempts on goal, with 31 of those working the keeper. City’s goals to shots ratio is 0.19, for their opponents it has been 0.09.
When broken down by individual players the numbers look positive for Matty Fryatt. His 18 shots (12 on target) have resulted in six goals, a strike rate of 0.33. Steve Howard’s 14 attempts (8 on target) have produced 3 goals, a strike rate of 0.21.
Leicester are much better at using the ball effectively this season. In three of their four League One games they have kept the ball better than their opponents. Some may argue that possession is nine tenths of the law, but City have managed to win 2 of the 3 games this season when they have seen less of the ball. At Hartlepool in particular, City had just 44% of the possession, but managed to leave Victoria Park with a 3-0 victory.
City have received just five yellow cards in all competitions so far this season, this despite committing more misdemeanours than their opponents. Leicester have committed 90 fouls in the campaign so far, their opponents 74. Perhaps one explanation for this discrepancy is the number of fouls committed by Steve Howard, who has managed to accumulate a total of 23 offences already this season, almost all for jumping unfairly with defenders.
Another positive is the number of different players credited already with assists this season. Eight Leicester players have assists to their name already in 2008/09, a record only Oldham can equal. It is probably no coincidence that the player with the most assists in League One (Mark Wright) comes from MK Dons, a team that has just three players with assists this season. One of the Foxes biggest strengths this year is that their goals really can come from anywhere on the pitch.
This really has been an excellent start to the 2008/09 campaign. History shows that when Leicester start well, they keep up the momentum.
Let’s hope history repeats itself.