At the start of the season this blog named five benchmarks that would give fans an idea how much improvement had taken place at Leicester City over the summer.
With 10 games gone, and an international break allowing for some reflection, now seems like the perfect opportunity to measure City’s progress.
In basic terms Leicester are five points better off than they were at this stage last season. The deeper you look, the more impressive the numbers become.
1. Home Bankers
Pre-season: “Leicester’s record against sides in the bottom half last season simply wasn’t good enough. At home they won just 14 points from 12 matches against sides who the promotion hot shots had no trouble dispatching. We’ll have a early indication of how this Leicester side is able to impose itself on the division’s weaker teams when Peterborough visit this Saturday.”
It’s three for three so far. Peterborough and Bristol City were both dispatched with comfortable 2-0 wins. Though City made hard work of things in the first half against Burnley, crucially they recovered to take all three points in that game too.
City have usually done well against the top sides (they won eight of 11 home games against other top half sides last season) and wins against Blackpool and Hull this year hopefully demonstrate this trend is continuing. In short, nobody is looking forward to a trip to the KP.
2. Points Lost
Pre-season: “Last season City thew away 20 points from winning positions. Four times they led only to finish with nothing, and four times they had to settle for a draw. At the peak of his powers (2009/10) Nigel Pearson had City win 14 matches in the Championship by a single goal. It was more than any other side in the division and made all the difference when it came to reaching the top six. Same again please.”
Leicester have yet to drop a point from a winning position, and better still have recovered to win two matches in which they fell behind (Burnley & Middlesbrough).
Those wins have been decisive more often than not. Three of Leicester’s wins have been by a single goal, four of them by two.
Pre-season: “It’s difficult enough to win matches in the Championship with 11 players on the pitch so Leicester’s nine red cards last season (a club record) did them no favours at all. A few could be disputed, but the vast majority could not. Leicester will need to clean up their act this season.”
By this time last season Leicester had already collected 22 yellow and two red cards. So far this season the Foxes have been shown just 10 yellow cards, a dramatic improvement. They’re also one of only two Championship sides yet to concede a penalty.
Pre-season: “It took until March for the Foxes to string together successive wins in the Championship last season. No sooner was a win gained, than the next three points thrown away. Nine Championship sides had unbeaten runs in the double digits last season, Leicester’s best run stretched to just seven games. Promotion campaigns are about momentum and Leicester will go nowhere if they surrender it as often as they did last year.”
The Foxes have won five on the bounce, another two wins would equal the club record for consecutive league victories (7 – last matched in 1993).
To give an idea of the size of this achievement – in the whole of last season only two Championship clubs produced a five match winning sequence. Millwall won five in a row at the end of last season whilst Reading completed eight wins on the spin by beating Leicester last March.
Pre-season: “With eight players realistically challenging for a place in the midfield four on the opening day, finding City’s best lineup may take time. Consistency of selection is hardly helped by a lack of cover at centre back, or an embarrassment of riches up front. If most fans can agree on starting XI come September, City will be on the right track. If we still don’t know by October the Foxes could find themselves having to play catch up.”
Nigel Pearson has named just 15 different players in his 10 Championship starting lineups this season. Most City fans could probably agree on 10 of the starting 11 for the trip to St Andrews next weekend. That kind of consistency is priceless.