By Antony Jordan
Even though Portugal winning the European Championships with just a single victory was in the Greece winning Euro 2004 territory for shocks of the football world, last season’s ten point victory in the EPL by Leicester as Claudio Ranieri took charge of the club following the exit of Nigel Pearson is certainly one football upset that will be spoken about down the ages. They were 5,000/1 to win the title last season, but they are far from that for the upcoming season. Can they replicate their magic form from last season and claim a second successive EPL title?
Bet365.com do not believe so as they make The Foxes the seventh favourite side to lift the Premier League trophy this season behind ‘The Big Six’, but they are a considerably shorter price than at the start of last season. The Bet365.com Premier League Odds for Leicester are as follows:
A drive to succeed, a forward thinking manager and a simple yet effective way of playing football last season saw Leicester claim their first ever top flight title and, excluding the second tier victory in 2014, their first major success since Martin O’Neill guided them to their third ever League Cup success in 2000.
One key component to the way that Leicester played last season was N’Golo Kanté as the Frenchman covered every blade of grass in every single match and with the midfielder, as well as striker Andrej Kramarić who signs for Hoffenheim after successful loan spell last season, leaving the club things will certainly more difficult this season for The Foxes.
However, Ranieri has put the £32m received from Chelsea to good use so far with a number of key signings, as the Italian manager has added players in every position so far. The most expensive of these is Nigerian striker Ahmed Musa, who bagged twice against Barcelona in a friendly this week, while winger Bartosz Kapustka, who impressed for Poland at Euro 2016, and Kante’s replacement Nampalys Mendy have also arrived. Goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler from Hannover and two Spaniards in defender Luis Hernández and striker Raúl Uche have also come on board to give Leicester far more options than last season.
Last season saw the third highest volume of goals scored, as Jamie Vardy netted on 24 occasions, and the joint third fewest goals conceded in the league but without Kanté screening the back four this season we feel that Leicester’s defence will be more open to attack and this could see them drop down the league. Add to this a more hectic schedule with the Champions League alongside their domestic duties and the expectation that last season’s successes will bring and this season will be far more difficult than even their title winning campaign.
We feel that there is value on two betting markets for The Foxes this season. Firstly is for them to finish in the top six at odds of 3.25 with Bet365.com, as a number of ‘The Big Six’ sides have new managers and will find the changes difficult allowing Leicester the chance to get in amongst the big names once again. Secondly is for Ahmed Musa to finish as the top goalscorer for Leicester @ 4.00 at Bet365. The Nigerian who was signed from CSKA Moscow has already netted twice and will be fresher at the start of the season that Jamie Vardy who played for England at the European Championships, so we can see him fitting in nicely. Of the two we fancy Musa to upset the odds most highly across the course of the season most often.