Manchester City are back in action in the Premier League this Saturday with a trip to Leicester City on the schedule. My friend Jake Lawson of Fosse Posse was nice enough to take some time to catch us up on how things are going for the Foxes this term.
CITYZENDuck: Leicester City’s poor start has been one of the surprises in the early season. Usually fighting for a place in Europe, the Foxes are currently fighting for their Premier League lives. How confident are you that the club can avoid being sent down?
Jake Lawson: Confident enough to say I think we’ll be fine, but not confident to put my own money on it. We’re on a nice run of form right now, but the fundamental issues that were causing us problems are still present: the squad is awkwardly constructed, we have too many players the manager simply won’t use, the back line does not fill me with confidence, and the manager was recently calling out the owner for the lack of purchases over the summer. Our improved results coincide with our facing Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace, Leeds, and Wolverhampton Wanderers. I don’t think I’ll be truly confident until we put in a good display against a better side.
Spoiler alert: I have no confidence that we’ll see that good display this weekend.
CD: Brendan Rodgers’ job security has been the focus of many conversations. After Leicester’s early difficulty, he seemed almost certain to be sacked. The club have played better of late. How safe does Rodgers’ position seem to you at the moment?
JL: I honestly have no idea. You’d think being bottom of the table in October would have cost him his position, but here we are. In fairness, the problems we have run much deeper than just the manager, but everyone expected Rodgers to be axed, so much so that there were calls for the owner, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha or “Top,” to sell the club. If a single point from the first eight matches isn’t enough to get a manager sacked, what is? If not then, then when? If he survived that, I suppose he’s pretty safe at this point.
CD: Leicester are coming off a weekend that saw them win 4-0 on the road to Wolves and for the first time since early in the term they are above the relegation zone. How are supporters feeling about things at the club now?
JL: Significantly better, as you might expect. Wout Faes has become a fan favourite overnight as the defensive partnership of Faes and Amartey have combined with goalkeeper Danny Ward for three clean sheets on the trot. We had the worst goals-per-match record in the entire football league prior to this run, so this sudden improvement has given us something to build on. In fairness to the gaffer, he’s addressed most of the problems the supporters were complaining about: he’s deploying Tielemans in a deeper position to help the back line; he’s actually using his substitutes so the players aren’t out of gas at the end of the match, and the team are attacking more directly than they were at the beginning of the season.
The concern is that the results may be more a function of good luck and poor opposition than any genuine improvement in the side. We’ve scored six goals from our last six shots on target and, while I’m not a statistician, I suspect that this is not a sustainable rate of scoring. Speaking of statistics, xG is an imperfect one, but over the long run, it is a demonstrably better indicator of quality than the scoreline. That’s to some genuinely amazing finishing on our part and some very poor shooting by our opponents, our xG differential has been negative in all three of our wins.
CD: And finally, what are your predictions for the match at the King Power Stadium?
JL: My head says 3-1 to the visitors. We’ve improved of late, but this will be the sternest test we’ve faced and I don’t think we’re quite up to it yet. I’d love to be proven wrong. As for my heart? It also says you win 3-1, so I guess I’m in alignment on this one.
Thanks again to Jake and all the good folks at Fosse Posse. You can stay up to date with all of Jake’s posts by following @karmadrome on Twitter, and for all things Leicester City, follow @TheFossePosse.