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LEICESTER CITY F.C.

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LAST SEASON AND THE STARTING POINT BEFORE 2016/17

The Premier League season of 2015/16 will go down in history as Leicester City's season. 

Even in the second half of 2014/15 Leicester found some incredible form out of nowhere and managed to climb from the relegation dogfight up to 14th place.

After the summer break, nothing had changed. Thanks to Jamie Vardy's record-breaking scoring run and some magical performances from Riyad Mahrez the underdogs kept pace with the league's front-runners right from the start. The failings of the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City did help the Foxes on their way to glory, but their title win was no fluke. As the pressure grew, Leicester were cool as ice as they suffered only one defeat since the turn of the year and their 12-game unbeaten run at the end of the season meant nobody had any chance of catching the Foxes. A strong and consistent starting eleven, some good impact players on the bench and Claudio Ranieri's masterful tactics formed the base for Leicester's sensational season.

The impact of the experienced Ranieri can't be overstated. Going into the season Leicester's goal was to not be relegated, and that didn't change despite Leicester occupying top spot in the league early on. The whole club was behind the calm Ranieri, while the press were almost mesmerized by him. Ranieri's approach towards the media differed greatly from other top managers, with Louis van Gaal particularly coming to mind. 

Leicester collected almost 100 million pounds for their title win, and the club as a whole are on a steady upward trajectory. Champions League football and the status of Premier League champions have made reinforcing the squad with new signings a far easier prospect. They have also managed to keep hold of their best players surprisingly well, given that usually when a so-called "smaller" club have a good season the big clubs come and steal away all of their bigger names. Leicester aren't simply trying to avoid losing their best players, they also want to strengthen and widen their squad.

KEY PLAYERS:

Kasper Schmeichel, the central defensive partnership of Wes Morgan-Robert Huth, Danny Drinkwater in central midfield and going forward the magical Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy form the spine of this Leicester team. Shinji Okazaki, Marc Albrighton, Christian Fuchs and Jeffrey Schlupp are more than capable supporting acts. 

Out of the new signings Ron-Robert Zieler, Luis Hernandez, Nampalys Mendy and Ahmed Musa are all worth mentioning. All of the above have the necessary quality to claim a spot in Leicester's starting eleven. Goalkeeper Zieler is the most notable name out of the four, as the German shot-stopper has a World Cup Winner's medal and has played in every single game for Hannover 96 over the past five seasons. Midfielder Mendy was signed from OGC Nice from Ligue 1, where he impressively led his team to fourth place. The 24-year old is of similar mold to N'Golo Kanté, who departed to Chelsea. Both strongly resemble the legendary Claude Makéléle in the holding midfield role.

EXPECTATIONS:

Leicester will get their first taste of Champions  League football this season, and simply advancing from the group stages can be considered a success for the Foxes who lack European experience. In the Premier League Leicester will battle it out for a place in the top half of the table, but if lightning strikes twice, who knows what this team can achieve?

PLAYER OF THE YEAR:

This will be Jeffrey Schlupp's breakthrough season in the Premier League. The Ghanaian international was in dazzling form last spring, but perhaps didn't get as much media coverage as his performances deserved. Schlupp is both strong and pace, while he is also comfortable of playing in any position on the left wing. The Ghanaian was last season chosen as the best young player at the club for the second year running. One of the few Foxes who won't be star-struck by the pace of the Champions League.

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