Leicester City is two points off the relegation zone after the opening 12 games of the Premier League season.
And the reigning champions are already talking about relegation.
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Manager Claudio Ranieri and reigning PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez both spoke about the potential for relegation this season ahead of Leicester’s UEFA Champions League game against Club Brugge at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.
The Foxes are on the brink of qualifying for the Round of 16 in the UCL but following their 2-1 defeat at Watford this weekend they are struggling in the Premier League.
“No, no, no. I think it is too early to speak about this,” Ranieri said about relegation. “Of course we have to see behind us what happened. Last season I was watching behind me. We will react and I am sure we will react well.”
As for Mahrez, well, the 25-year-old Algerian winger doesn’t even want to contemplate the “R word” right now…
“Nothing is wrong. We need to keep working hard like we do and I am sure we will get the wins,” Mahrez said. “I know we have good quality to stay in the Premier League and maybe more.”
With Leicester having a bigger drop off in terms of points from last season than any other Premier League team (ahead of Week 12 they had 10 points less than at the same point last season) they have now lost back-to-back games to West Brom and Watford. The big issues this season for Leicester has been giving up early goals which has forced them to chase games and come at teams early on. They’ve also been very poor away from home and alongside Burnley they’re the only PL team yet to win on the road and the Foxes have lost five of their six away games.
Ranieri’s side have also won just once in their last seven PL games and although there are plenty of teams bunched around them in the bottom half of the table, if they do indeed qualify for the knockout rounds of the UCL then their focus may be elsewhere for much of the next six months too.
That could be bad news for the Foxes.
So, let’s put this to a vote: will Leicester become the first Premier League champions in history to be relegated the following season?