Leicester City Closeup: Tactics, Stats, and Claude Puel
Following a goal glutz of an affair between Palace and Liverpool, the Reds will be hoping for a more routine experience against their latest opposition from the East Midlands – Leicester City.
WHERE ARE LEICESTER CITY NOW?
Having been the victim of a last minute goal in the other 4-3 thriller last weekend at the Molineux, the pressure is mounting on Claude Puel to deliver the points. With only one win in their last five games, (including a loss to Newport County in the F.A. Cup), the Frenchman has a less than enviable task at hand.
Given Puel’s success last term however, helping Leicester climb up to ninth place in the Premier League after taking over from Craig Shakespeare with the club flirting with relegation, one would think the former Monaco man would be given the time to improve results, especially since Leicester are twelve points clear of the drop.
Although, as the former Southampton man will be all too well aware, the unforgiving world of football management may have other ideas.
As the table currently stands, Leicester sit in the top half of the Premier League at 9th place with 31 points, the same points total accrued at the same stage last year, albeit a place lower.
Puel’s win rate of 39.13% in the Premier League outstrips his rate of 34.48% from 29 games in the 2017/18 season, and the Frenchman’s 31.57% win rate with Southampton the year before.
CLAUDE PUEL – A FRENCH SENSATION
Having managed at some of Ligue 1’s most trophy-laden clubs, leading his former club Monaco to a league title in his first season in charge, Puel’s stock was fairly high when he made the move to English football.
Despite leading Southampton to a comfortable finish of eighth and a remarkable run in the EFL Cup, a reasonable first season in charge some might say for a club of Southampton’s size, Puel’s contract with the Hampshire club was terminated on 14th June 2017, after being criticised of nurturing a solid if a bit dull style of football.
“Puel did not fall short of the reasonable expectations that Southampton could have had when they appointed him less than a year ago, he just failed to meet their admirably unreasonable ones.”
– Paul Doyle
Appointed Leicester manager nine games into the 2017/18 season, Puel had a challenging task ahead to help Leicester retain their Premier League status, only two years after the club had won the Premier League. Puel was ultimately successful however, securing 37 points in the club’s remaining 28 games to achieve a mid-table finish.
LEICESTER CITY TACTICS
Despite the accusations levelled against Puel’s brand of football, the former Monaco man had built a reputation in France for delivering fast-paced, counter attacking football, utilising a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1.
Given that Leicester’s unlikely Premier League title success of 2015/16 was built on the club’s considerable counter-attacking threat, Puel was expected to be an ideal fit.
With the attacking midfielder pushing up the pitch to support the two wide forwards – whilst the defensive midfielder, usually Ndidi, sits back to shield the centre-backs – Puel typically asks his wingers to cut inside the box during games to overload opposition defences when Leicester have the ball.
Horizontal balls are also hugely important for Leicester’s quick counter-attacks, with the side often playing a ball out wide to the available forward in space after overloading one side of the pitch to retrieve the ball, splicing gegen-pressing and long ball football.
Leicester’s recent impressive wins against Chelsea and Manchester City are proof of the fact that Puel isn’t afraid to tweak his tactics to suit the opposition, even mid-game where necessary.
At 1-0 down against City, the change to 4-4-1-1 with James Maddison dictating the play in the no.10 role behind James Vardy proved to be a masterful stroke, with Leicester quickly securing an equaliser through Marc Albrighton. Given that Maddison has been Leicester’s most influential player this season with 5 goals and 4 assists in 20 Premier League appearances, this will not come as a huge surprise to City fans.
Although Puel may favour a similarly patient start against Liverpool come Wednesday, you can expect a keen tactical battle between Jurgen and the former Monaco man.
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