It’s been a strange start for Leicester City. When they’ve played best, they’ve lost, when they’ve played worse, they've won. It’s fair to say this week against Southampton, they’ll be hoping to match performance and result.
We’ve broken down some of the key areas and individual match ups that could decide the outcome.
1. Can Iheanacho replace Jamie Vardy?
The Foxes will be without their talismanic frontman for the next three games after his red card last week. Whatever you think of the decision, what’s important is that we find a way to score goals without him - it’s always been a weakness.
That’s where Iheanacho comes in. He arrived with so much promise last summer, but struggled to show it in limited time. This summer, however, with Vardy still away, the young Nigerian looked excellent as the no. 1 striker in preseason, particularly developing a great understanding with James Maddison. These three games are a fantastic opportunity for Nacho to bang in some goals and put some pressure on Vardy and Puel. If he can’t things could be difficult for Leicester.
2. Set Pieces
The Saints have been struggling in front of goal again, managing just one goal through 180 minutes so far, and it came from a corner. While they’ve only conceded two, one of those came from an Everton set piece, while Burnley were battering on the door with seven shots on goal from set pieces. They look like a strength and a weakness for Southampton so far.
It should be a weakness that Leicester are set up to exploit. We saw over the summer how difficult it can be to contain Maguire from corners, while Maddison has already shown himself to be a better set piece provider than we’ve seen in years. But for whatever reason, the Foxes just haven't looked that dangerous yet. Hopefully this week, again without Vardy, they can break through and find another reliable goal scoring method.
3. Pushing on to the final third
Leicester are currently 6th in the league when it comes to keeping the opposition out of their end, playing just 25% of the game in their own third of the pitch. But that hasn’t translated into more dangerous possession yet, with the Foxes just 11th for possession in the opposition third, with games getting bogged down in the middle of the pitch.
For me, the key to this is one is Maddison. It’s clear already that he’s the team’s best option to move the ball forward in those areas where he looks lethal on the half turn, able to pick passes, draw fouls and shoot. With 4 wide options pushing on every week, passes just aren't coming his way enough. With the chances not coming elsewhere, the rest of the team needs to feed him as much as possible right now.
So no pressure James, but if you could whip in a few more dangerous corners, take control of the game when we’re in possession and find some quality balls through to Iheanacho, that’s really all we need. Everyone else, as you were (except Evans).