Leicester City, on the way to the Premier League!


By: Manu Tournoux

This may be the most important match of the season so far. This Tuesday evening, at 8:45 p.m., Leicester travel to Ipswich for the 24th day of the EFL Championship. A match which could already prove decisive. And for good reason, the Foxes reign over the championship, with 58 points on the clock. But the latter are precisely pursued by Ipswich Town FC, second with six points behind their evening opponent. If successful, Jamie Vardy’s club would gain a considerable advantage over the other Championship leaders, before embarking on a year 2024 which promises to be decisive.

With 19 wins, 1 draw and only 3 defeats in 23 days, Leicester City has had a very high level first part of the season. In reality, the Foxes have been undefeated since November 11 and a setback against Middlesbrough (1-0). Best attack in the championship with 47 goals scored, tied with… Ipswich, the former Premier League resident, delights with attractive football, which has the gift of filling the King Power Stadium. If many individuals left the ship last summer, faced with incredible offers from elite clubs – J. Maddison (€46.30 million, Tottenham) and H. Barnes (€44 million, Newcastle), especially – others have, on the contrary, revealed themselves.

Premier League quality

Among the players who have taken on a whole new dimension this season, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. The versatile 25-year-old midfielder, who was already showing a good level when Leicester was in difficulty in the Premier League, is in the oven and in the mill, week after week. In total, the latter has 7 goals, as well as 9 caviars in 23 EFL Championship matches. Trained at the club, “KDH” is the playing master of Enzo Maresca’s team. But if he is so successful, it is also thanks to the resurrection of Harry Winks, announced as a developing crack at Tottenham, who had been lost over the years, without forgetting the return to form of Wilfred Ndidi. . Three players who, quite logically, outperform their championship.

Behind, the Italian coach was able to revive Jannik Vestergaard, former spearhead of the Southampton Saints side. The Dane had a complicated start with the Foxes but was able to bounce back, taking advantage of the club’s decline to regain popularity across the Channel. In the cages, another Dane: Mads Hermansen. If Kasper Schmeichel has kept Leicester’s goals brilliantly for a long time, the 23-year-old goalkeeper is shining in the Championship and already has 8 clean sheets this season. Up front, Stephy Mavididi (7 goals and 4 assists) has regained color, while Issahaku Fatawu (19 years old) and Kasey McAteer (22 years old) bring dynamism on the wings. The collective is oiled, the players are confident, and now Enzo Maresca’s work is rewarded.

It must be said that the 43-year-old coach was trained at the right school, since he was one of Pep Guardiola’s assistants at Manchester City barely a season ago. We therefore understand better why Leicester likes to have the ball during their matches. To help understand the game and the very modern system used by Enzo Maresca, Flo, who runs the Leicester City France page on X, says: “it relies on a hybrid 4-3-3 which switches to 3-4-2-1 in the offensive phase. The right back inserts himself into the midfield, the three other defenders stay back and the wingers play pistons. The game is based on possession, to tire the opponent. This is the reason why Leicester often scores in the 2nd half.. A recipe that seems to be bearing fruit, to see if it will still work in the event of promotion to the Premier League.

The title or nothing

“The objective is the title, with no other performance accepted. The objective is also to prepare for the Premier League with young players and a system to build., says Flo from Leicester City France. Given the size of the club, its financial dimension and the players within the squad, the Foxes have no choice but to take everything. The climb, certainly, but the title, above all, to avoid potential play-offs in particular. Maresca’s men do not fly over the Championship for nothing, and winning the final trophy would once and for all conclude a short chapter in the second division, still hard to swallow for some.

Used to playing spoilsport in the Premier League (5th in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, then 8th in 2021-2022), Leicester must return to the heights of English football. Financially, already, a move up would bring in a hell of a lot of money for a club renowned for selling its best players very well (Harry Maguire, Wesley Fofana, Riyad Mahrez, etc.). Useful to allow the residents of the King Power Stadium to be competitive upon their return to the elite. With many young people with high potential, a goalkeeper who is revealing himself, some executives and talented attackers, Leicester has an interesting core on which to build in the future. But we will have to achieve a second part of the season at least as impressive as the first, and it starts this evening, with this shock against Ipswich, an absolute must-win.

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