Comparing Leicester City's title winners to the current crop: Are Brendan Rodgers' side superior?
Much has been made of Leicester City’s rise under Brendan Rodgers since the former Celtic boss took over at the club in February, and it’s hard to deny that right now, the Foxes are flying as high as they’ve done since their stunning Premier League title win in 2015-16.
While they’re currently 16 points adrift of league leaders Liverpool, they still remain in 3rd place in the current Premier League table, and it’s looking more and more likely that they could qualify for next season’s Champions League at worst.
But are Rodgers’ current side really better than the 2015-16 Premier League champions, as some have stated? It’s highly debatable, so here is a comparison between the two squads.
Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel vs. Kasper Schmeichel
The easiest comparison to make between the sides is between the sticks, as of course, Kasper Schmeichel – who followed in his father’s footsteps by winning the Premier League title in 2015-16 – remains the Foxes’ undisputed #1 goalkeeper.
Schmeichel is currently in the midst of his 9th season at the King Power Stadium, and at 33 years old, it’s likely that he’s in his goalkeeping prime right now. One of the Premier League’s most reliable and consistent shot-stoppers, Schmeichel averaged 0.9 goals conceded per game in Leicester’s title-winning season, essentially the same average as he’s done thus far in 2019-20.
There seems to be no point in looking at Leicester’s backup keepers – Mark Schwarzer and Ben Hamer in 2015-16, Danny Ward and Eldin Jakupovic today – as Schmeichel rarely gets injured. So it’s a wash here, as the Danish international is basically just as good today as he was 4 seasons ago.
Full-Backs: Christian Fuchs and Danny Simpson vs. Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira
Perhaps the area that Leicester have evolved most in since their shock title victory of 2015-16 has been their use of full-backs. In Claudio Ranieri’s side, Christian Fuchs and Danny Simpson were the most commonly deployed duo, but with the Italian’s use of an almost classic 4-4-2 system, they performed on almost a purely defensive basis rather than as attacking full-backs.
Leicester’s defence was extremely tight in 2015-16, conceding just 36 goals all season, but while Fuchs and Simpson definitely played their part in that tough backline, they barely contributed going forward. Neither man scored a single goal, with Austria’s Fuchs also responsible for 4 assists.
Right now, however, the Foxes also have an extremely tight defence – only Liverpool have conceded less goals than Brendan Rodgers’ men – but full-backs Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira are far more than simply defenders.
They’ve chipped in with 3 goals and 4 assists between them already, and we’re only just past the midway point in the season. Essentially, aside from Liverpool, Leicester’s current full-backs are the envy of every other Premier League side right now, and it’s quite clear that the duo of Chilwell and Pereira are superior to their predecessors at the King Power Stadium.