Through the first six matches, Leicester City currently sit 17th on the table, out of the relegation zone on goal differential. We always knew it was going to be a tough start to the season, didn't we? Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and a much-improved Manchester United in the first six games made for one of the most difficult opening months in recent memory, both on paper and on the pitch.
Four points from six matches isn’t much of a haul, but if a neutral were to pencil in the likely result from these fixtures before the season, four points would be a pretty reasonable guess. I won’t argue that this is a good return, but neither is it a disastrous one. So take a deep breath and calm down. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the Foxes will soon begin climbing the table:
1. The performances have been better than the results
I know, I know, the points are the only thing that matter, but bear with me here: It's still early in the season, and if you're trying to assess the quality of your team, the performances are much better predictor of success than are points. I've only seen two truly poor performances out of the six; the draw against Huddersfield and the defeat to the Red Devils. Even though we took a point against the Terriers, there wasn't much to get excited about in that match.
The losses to Arsenal and Liverpool, on the other hand, had plenty of positives if you look beyond the result. The team look strong going forward and defended well in patches. Neither were complete performances as evidenced by the final scorelines, but I was a good deal more encouraged about our season after watching those defeats than I was seeing us scrape a barely-deserved draw at the John Smith's.
Taggart: A Respectable Performance #LCFC https://t.co/v7HGkairwD— Leicester City Talk (@Leicester_TT) September 24, 2017
Even against Chelsea, we were very much in the match and a point wouldn't have been undeserved. You could argue that the performances against three of the four top clubs we've faced so far merited a point (or more) and that we're a little unlucky to be where we are on the table. For me and my rose-coloured glasses, at this point of the season I'm more encouraged by good performances against top clubs than I am by a poor performance that yielded an undeserved point.
2. The schedule offers some relief over the next month
There's no such thing as an easy win the Premier League, but there's no denying that some fixtures are more difficult than others. Over the next five weeks, City will line up against Bournmouth, West Brom, Swansea, Everton, and Stoke. A good performance against any of these clubs should result in a point or three.
This does add a little pressure to take something from these fixtures. The failure to turn the earlier performances into points means that we're in the position of needing to get some results over the next month. Against Chelsea, a good effort without points can be, with some bitterness, accepted; against Swansea it would be a cause for concern. With that one caveat, the fact of the matter is that if we play the way we have for the first six matches, we will start to rack up some points in October.
3. Help is on the way
Think back to the start of the 2015/16 season: Do you remember that glorious 4-2 win over Sunderland, with new signings Christian Fuchs and N'Golo Kante dominating the Black Cats and kicking off what would prove to be a somewhat memorable campaign? No, you don't, because our starting left-back that day was Jeff Schlupp, and Andy King started ahead of Kante. Both new players came on as late substitutes, but it took both of them a month or so to settle in as starters.
My point is that, with few exceptions, it takes new players some time to settle in to a squad. Kelechi Iheanacho, Vicente Iborra, Aleksandar Dragovic, and Adrien Silva have yet to have a chance to show what they can do for the Foxes. While it may yet be a while before Silva gets to show his stuff, the others have all shown flashes of what they can do in the Carabao Cup and will soon be pushing for a spot in the starting XI.
There are other reasons to be hopeful as well: Robert Huth should be back before too long, the Vardy/Okazaki partnership has already combine for nine goals and shows no signs of letting up, Demarai Gray and Ben Chilwell are starting to look like they deserve more time on the pitch, and Harry Maguire has proven to buy one of the buys of the summer.
At the end of the day, there are plenty of reasons to believe that Leicester City are a good side, certainly better than their position on the table suggests. The Foxes don’t have to play better than they have to start collecting some points, but we probably will improve when the summer signings settle in. If we’re still in this position when we face Manchester City in November, I’ll start to worry, but now is not the time for panic.