Comparing Leicester City's title winners to the current crop: Are Brendan Rodgers' side superior?
Centre Backs: Wes Morgan and Robert Huth vs. Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans
Much was made in the summer about how Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes could struggle in the centre of defence without Harry Maguire, who was sold to Manchester United for a monstrous £80 million, and eyebrows were raised when the club didn’t bother to sign an outright replacement.
Less than a year on though, the move to let the England international leave seems like a smart move. The underrated Jonny Evans has created a formidable partnership with Turkish international Caglar Soyuncu – who was signed in the summer of 2018 but only made a handful of appearances last season – and the duo have helped to give Leicester one of the Premier League’s toughest defences.
However, are the duo of Evans and Soyuncu superior to the title-winning partnership of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth? It remains to be seen. Morgan played every single Premier League match for Claudio Ranieri’s champions, while Huth – who won two Premier League titles with Chelsea – only missed 3 matches.
Morgan and Huth brought a level of experience and calm to the Foxes’ backline that made them incredibly tricky to beat, and while it’s true that they were protected by a world-class holding midfielder in N’Golo Kante, Morgan in particular also chipped in with some key goals, including a vital winner against Southampton.
And while Soyuncu has been largely outstanding thus far in 2019-20, he’s also made a handful of mistakes – conceding 2 penalties and making one individual error to lead to a goal. The Turkish international may well improve going forward – he’s only 23 years old after all – but I think Ranieri’s title winners have a slight edge in this area.
Advantage: Ranieri’s title winners
Wingers: Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez vs. Harvey Barnes, Demarai Gray and Ayoze Perez
Interestingly, neither Claudio Ranieri’s title winners nor Brendan Rodgers’ current side really made use of a pair of traditional wingers. Ranieri tended to use Marc Albrighton on the left and Riyad Mahrez on the right, but neither man performed an orthodox job as such.
Mahrez was the more attacking one of the two; the Algerian international was one of 2015-16’s most outstanding players, as he scored 17 goals and made 11 assists, often playing as a secondary striker behind primary hitman Jamie Vardy.
Albrighton meanwhile had often played as a wing-back for periods of his career and was regularly deployed by Ranieri to drop back and help the side’s defence. That said, he still chipped in with 2 goals and 6 assists in Premier League action.
Brendan Rodgers meanwhile has often preferred a 3-man midfield this season, with his widest players being a combination of Harvey Barnes, Ayoze Perez, Albrighton and Demarai Gray. Barnes and Perez have started the most games – 14 and 16 respectively – but only Barnes has always been deployed as a pure wing-man, with Spain’s Perez often used as a secondary striker similarly to Mahrez in 2015-16.
Thus far, the Foxes’ current widemen have a total of 7 goals and 11 assists between them – but while they’ve been good, none of the four have been anywhere near the level that Mahrez reached during Leicester’s title charge, and thus the edge must go to Ranieri’s side.