Leicester City now sit proudly in third place in the Premier League after their 5-0 demolition of Newcastle last weekend. Now they can claim to have a chance of achieving something special by finishing in the top four and earning UEFA Champions League qualification.
The Foxes will face no bigger test of their top four credentials than away to Liverpool on Saturday, who have flown out of the traps this season with a 100% record in their opening seven games.
It will be difficult to surpass the miracle title victory of three years ago, when as 5000/1 outsiders Leicester shocked the world to win their maiden top flight championship, but this season feels like the first time that the club has really built on that triumph.
The current side is young and exciting, with a brand of football that has changed under the leadership of Brendan Rodgers, a team that is now comfortable playing attractive football bringing the ball out from the back, and pressing opponents relentlessly that has made them defensively strong and difficult to beat.
Vardy and Maddison Key to City’s Rise
Also, the goals of Jamie Vardy have been instrumental in Leicester’s climb into the top three of the Premier League.
The 32-year-old striker has found the back of the net five times so far this season, and has flourished playing under Rodgers scoring an impressive 14 times in 17 games.
The defensive pairing of Turkish international Caglar Soyuncu and the experienced Jonny Evans has thrived after the £80 million departure of Harry Maguire to Manchester United, when many Leicester fans thought that Rodgers should have replaced Maguire when the summer transfer window was open.
Since the departure of Maguire, it has allowed Evans to play in his favored position of being on the left hand side of the centre-back partnership, a major reason for his authoritative displays this season.
James Maddison has picked up from where he left off last season, and has looked even more effective in his playmaking role. In particular he was outstanding in the second half of the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, a game that Leicester were unlucky not to win, and scored an superb winner to in the victory over Tottenham last month.
Its is no wonder that he has caught the attention of some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, according to recent reports Manchester United are preparing an £80 million bid for him to join Maguire at Old Trafford.
Transfer Market Decisions Now Working For Leicester
Maddison is one of many recent examples of how recruitment has improved since the aftermath of that title victory, where £45 million was squandered on Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani in the summer of 2016.
There have been other disappointments in the transfer market, with Kelechi Iheanacho and Adrien Silva failing to have any real impact following their moves from Manchester City and Sporting Lisbon respectively, with the latter now on loan to Monaco.
Last Summer Evans arrived at the same time as Maddison for a bargain fee of £3.8 million from West Brom, alongside Soyuncu after his £19 million move from SC Freiburg.
Ricardo Pereira is now impressing in the right back position after he arrived for just under £20 million from Porto also a year ago, and scored a wonder goal to open Leicester’s account against Newcastle.
Youri Tielemans is another exciting signing, and while a £40 million club record summer signing from Monaco he can be considered to be a relative steal. The Belgian was superb in his loan spell from the principality in the second half of last season, and possesses great ability unlocking defenses with his incisive passing.
Tielemans is developing a potentially great midfield partnership with Wilifred Ndidi, who screens the back four superbly, and for another economical price of £15 million from Genk in January 2017, proving to be the last act of genius from Claudio Ranieri, before the title winning manager was astonishingly sacked.
Leicester will now be looking for Ayoze Perez to pick up after his summer move from Newcastle, as so far the winger has had a quiet start.
A recent study conducted by the CIES Football Observatory found that Leicester now have the 19th most expensive squad across the top five leagues of the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, and Ligue One.
Rodgers a Huge Coup
The impact of Brendan Rodgers since his appointment in February this year has been staggering, since his entrance the East Midlanders have accumulated 31 points, only Manchester City and Liverpool have won more.
Rodgers’ charismatic, nurturing but authoritative style of management is the perfect remedy to the recent tenures of Craig Shakespare and Claude Puel, where Chelsea like player power appeared to force their departures.
The Ulsterman will be looking at add to his trophy laden spell at Celtic, where he won two Scottish titles and Scottish Cups, plus three Scottish League Cups, including a back to back domestic treble.
Rodgers will now be looking to build on Leicester’s notable start to the season at his former club on Saturday.