What a difference a year makes.
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This time last year Leicester City were battling away at the top of the Premier League table and would obviously end up winning the PL in one of the biggest shocks in sporting history.
Fast-forward 12 months and Claudio Ranieri‘s side are in dire form and sit just five points above the relegation zone following their 3-0 pummeling at Southampton last Sunday.
Speaking ahead of their FA Cup fourth round clash with second-tier Derby County, who are also fierce local rivals to the Foxes, Ranieri admitted chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is not happy with their performances this season.
“My chairman said 40 points, 40 points please, then after if something happens it’s okay – but 40 points,” Ranieri said. “Of course he is not happy, it is normal, he is the chairman. But he knows very well my ambition, maybe more than him. For me every match is important.”
With 21 points on the board after 22 games, that means Ranieri’s men need 19 more points from the remaining 16 games to reach the magic 40-point marker and secure their lucrative status in the PL.
Their two-legged UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash against Sevilla will take center stage next month, but with the UCL group stage distracting Leicester throughout the early months of the 2016-17 campaign Ranieri’s side are slipping closer towards a relegation battle and have yet to win away from home in the Premier League this season.
Looking at their next six Premier League games they have trips to Burnley and Swansea City, then a home game against Hull City. All of those games are now massive encounters. If Leicester lose those three matches to teams around them and fall to Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in their three other PL encounters coming up, then all of a sudden they’re in great danger of getting nowhere near the 40-point marker.
Leicester need another six wins to all but guarantee survival in the PL next season. Baring in mind they’ve only won five games from 22 so far this season the situation facing the reigning champions becomes a little more daunting when you look at the road ahead.
Much has been made about N'Golo Kante‘s exit and the impact that’s had on Leicester but apart from that loss they’ve got the same team which won the title last season. The Foxes have also spent close to $100 million on new players, many of which have yet to find their feet in the Premier League.
It’s easy to see why Leicester’s chairman is concerned.