Marcin Wasilewski

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Premier League 2017-18 preview – Leicester City

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This is a bold statement given the potential league-shaking moves made by the Premier League’s biggest clubs, but there may be no more intriguing story to follow in the league this season than Leicester City.

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A club that won the title two years ago struggled with relegation fears during its reign, but also went deep into the UEFA Champions League and genuinely did look like a Top Six team by the time it found an appropriate replacement for N'Golo Kante in the form of Wilfried Ndidi.

Could they rival the top teams for another surprise — granted not as dramatic and high-end — season close to the top of England’s top flight?

Best, worst case scenarios – The worst case scenario sees Riyad Mahrez, Demarai Gray, and Danny Drinkwater leave and a brutal early slate sending them well behind the pack. Then, it sees Shakespeare over his skis the first time he has to clean up a mess under his watch, leaving Leicester with another midseason adjustment en route to a relegation battle and, subsequently, relegation.

That’s highly unlikely, though, and provided the Foxes keep Drinkwater and Ndidi continues his form, Leicester should be comfortably midtable. In terms of best case, Harry Maguire is the antidote to the aging back line, Iheanacho combines with Vardy to be a lethal force, and the Foxes either claims the League or FA Cup, or edge an overwhelmed bigger name for a Top Seven spot and the Europa League.


Best possible XI is… 

Schmeichel

Simpson — Morgan — Maguire — Fuchs

Iborra — Drinkwater — Ndidi 

Mahrez

Vardy — Iheanacho


[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

Transfers In: Vicente Iborra (Sevilla, $22 million), Harry Maguire (Hull City, $20 million), Eldin Jakupovic (Hull City), Sam Hughes (Chester City), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City)

Transfers Out: Ron-Robert Zieler (Stuttgart), Marcin Wasilewski (released), Bartosz Kapustka (Freiburg, loan)

Last season:

UEFA Champions League quarterfinalists
— 12th in Premier League
— FA Cup fifth round loss to Millwall
League Cup third round loss to Chelsea

Star player: Wilfried Ndidi — Transitioning to the Premier League from the Jupiler Pro League took about a month for the Nigerian, who saw Leicester go 0-5 with no goals scored to start life in England, but the Foxes promptly won five-straight and Ndidi was no small part of it. He won 3.5 aerial duels per match, while averaging four tackles, 2.1 interceptions, and 3.2 clearances in front of a surprisingly suspect back line while leading the team in dribbles per match with 1.8.

Coaches’ Corner:  Craig Shakespeare — Taking over for Claudio Ranieri was surprisingly simple for the Birmingham-born 53-year-old, who took his 1-0 record as West Brom caretaker boss from 2006 and improved it to 9W-3L-5D all-time. It took until well after the season for Shakespeare to be crowned Ranieri’s permanent replacement, and he has a three-year deal to show his stuff at the King Power Stadium. We’ve seen he can clean up a messy side. Now we’ll see if he can set up a side to thrive in the top flight.

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PST predicts:  A fair share of bumps in the road, but the Maguire and Iborra buys show that the Leicester eyes for talent remain pretty sharp. A comfortable-enough midtable finish in the end, though don’t be surprised if alarm bells ring early: Four of Leicester’s first six matches are against Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea, and the first two are away. Getting six points from the other two, versus new boys Brighton and Huddersfield, will be key to avoiding an early season rut.

Leicester defender Fuchs jokes “chicken is back” after FA Cup win

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There had been rumors of discontent at Leicester City. Such discontent, in fact, that it was widely reported that certain menu items had been removed from the training ground.

Those rumors are now debunked.

Following Leicester City’s 3-1 extra-time win over Derby County in the FA Cup to send the Foxes to the final 16 of the competition, defender Christian Fuchs posted on Instagram that “chicken is back on the menu.”

[ MORE: Leicester City downs Derby County in the FA Cup ]

With the Foxes having suffered four straight Premier League defeats to send them straight into the thick of the relegation battle, many had widely reported that manager Claudio Ranieri was losing the clubhouse, having taken severe measures hoping to turn things around. One of the measures Ranieri reportedly took was to remove chicken burgers from the post-match menu.

Well, it would seem chicken has made a triumphant return:

Fuchs was not part of the squad at King Power Stadium that took down Derby, with Ranieri putting out a second-choice squad including defenders Marcin Wasilewski and Yohan Benaloune in place of Fuchs. Andy King, Wilfred Ndidi, and Demarai Gray all scored for the Foxes in the victory.

The 30-year-old has been a fixture for the Foxes throughout the season, missing just one Premier League match this campaign, but he struggled his last time out, a 3-0 loss to Manchester United.

Leicester 0-2 Everton: Mirallas, Lukaku beat banged up Foxes

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  • Mirallas opens scoring
  • Lukaku scores late on
  • Leicester 3 points off bottom three

Everton beat Leicester City 2-0 at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day as the reigning champs slumped further towards the relegation zone.

Two second half goals from Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku did the damage as Leicester missed the suspended trio of Jamie Vardy, Christian Fuchs and Robert Huth badly.

With the win Everton moves on to 26 points for the season, while Leicester stay on 17 points and are just three points above the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was an even start at Leicester and buoyed by his late equalizer at Stoke last time out, Daniel Amartey lashed an effort on goal which Joel Robles saved down low.

Damarai Gray then drilled an effort just wide as Everton struggled to get going against the Foxes.

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Everton forced the issue as half time arrived but Leicester’s much-changed defense held firm. For now.

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In the 52nd minute Leicester were behind as Mirallas latched onto a ball over the top and his low finished took a slight deflection off Marcin Wasilewski and in. 1-0 to the Toffees.

Everton were buoyed by the opener and looked much more comfortable but Leicester made some subs and Leonardo Ulloa sent a header in on goal which Robles saved well.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

Late on Lukaku set up Idrissa Gueye but he somehow put the ball over the bar from close-range but Lukaku did it himself in the closing stages as he ran at Leicester’s defense and finished to secure the 2-0 win.

EFL Cup wrap: Chelsea, Arsenal score four; Everton, Leicester ousted

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The EFL Cup — formerly known as the League Cup — is into the third round, with eight of 16 fixtures played Tuesday around the United Kingdom.

[ MORE: More of today’s EFL Cup goals ]

It was a day for new boys at Arsenal, and a celebration of veterans at Chelsea, while Everton was stung by a longtime Toffee now wearing yellow.

Nottingham Forest 0-4 Arsenal

Granit Xhaka gave Arsenal a halftime lead when he sent this wrecking ball towards the Forest goal. Lucas Perez added a second half brace, as the Gunners cruised to a win despite the Forest debut of ex-Gunner Nicklas Bendtner.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain nabbed the fourth, and USMNT talent Gedion Zelalem subbed into the match for the final 7 minutes.

The second Perez goal was class grunt work with a deft finish.

Leicester City 2-4 (aet) Chelsea

When you’re eye level with the keeper and so is the ball, just do what Shinji Okazaki did and nudge it over the line. Poor Asmir Begovic was outfoxed by Leicester’s Japanese striker, and again later when Okazaki bounded the ball off the ground from close range to make it 2-0.

Gary Cahill forced a ball across the Leicester line before halftime to halve the deficit, and Cesar Azpilicueta volleyed a 49th minute clearance home to level things at 2.

Sitting on yellow, Marcin Wasilewski put Leicester in an awful spot with a high elbow to Diego Costa during second half stoppage. The Foxes would need to play with only 10 men in extra time.

Cesc Fabregas only needed two minutes of the first frame of extra time to belt home a winner, as Hazard teed him up with a back heel straight from the playground. He added another soon after to dust this one up.

From 2-0 to 4-2, and having to contend extra time? Claudio Ranieri will not be pleased.

Newcastle United 2-0 Wolverhampton

DeAndre Yedlin proved playmaker on Matt Ritchie‘s opener, while Yoan Gouffran added a second, and Newcastle avenged its league upset from the weekend.

Derby County 0-3 Liverpool

Ragnar Klavan was the unlikely opening goal scorer, Philippe Coutinho the more likely second Red to tally. Divock Origi added the third Liverpool goal in the 54th minute, as Jurgen Klopp‘s bunch cruised.

Bournemouth 2-3 (aet) Preston North End

The Cherries went down 1-0 after 10 minutes, but avoid an upset at the Vitality Stadium when Lewis Grabban converted a 53rd minute penalty and Dan Gosling gave Bournemouth its first lead with under 15 minutes to play.

Simon Makienok leveled things with his second goal of the night, and we were off to extra time where  — wouldn’t you know it? — the Dane completed his hat trick to send the Cherries out of the EFL Cup.

Everton 0-2 Norwich City

Ghosts of Goodison past haunting Everton, as Steven Naismith had the Canaries up at the break. Josh Murphy tore into this shot in the 74th minute to insure the lead (and, as it turns out, ensure the win).

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-2 Reading

Reading had a 1-0 lead and made it 2-0 with 10 men after a red card to ex-Manchester United back Tyler Blackett.

Leeds United 1-0 Blackburn

Garry Monk got a winner from Kiwi striker Chris Wood to avoid extra time in a very even contest.

Wednesday
Swansea City-Man City — 2:45 p.m. ET
Northampton-Man Utd — 2:45 p.m. ET
Southampton-Crystal Palace — 2:45 p.m. ET
QPR-Sunderland — 2:45 p.m. ET
West Ham United-Accrington Stanley — 2:45 p.m. ET
Fulham-Bristol City — 2:45 p.m. ET
Stoke City-Hull City — 3 p.m. ET
Tottenham Hotspur-Gillingham — 3 p.m. ET

Leicester City inks Ben Chilwell to new contract, warding off Liverpool interest

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Liverpool wanted to get younger at the back, but they’ll have to look elsewhere.

Despite reportedly heavy interest from Anfield, 19-year-old defender Ben Chilwell has signed a new five-year deal with Leicester City, tying him down through the summer of 2021.

The Leicester City defense desperately needs Chilwell’s youth as it ages yet another year following their run to the Premier League title. Robert Huth is 31 years old, Wes Morgan – also on a new deal this summer – is 32, and backup Marcin Wasilewski is 36. On the left edge, where Chilwell is most proficient, first-choice left-back Christian Fuchs is 30, while Jeffrey Schlupp provides the only other true bit of youth at 23. On the right, Danny Simpson is 29 and Richie De Laet is 27.

The youngster was reportedly a high-priority target for Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, lodging a number of bids with the news that Brad Smith would move to Bournemouth. According to reports in England, the Reds made one last effort to bid for Chilwell prior to his extension, but it did not bear fruit.

“Ever since I arrived in Leicester, Ben has been a young player that has shown a lot of promise,” Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri told the club’s official website. “He has all the attributes you would want in a defender and shows a lot of maturity for a player of just 19. He has come back for pre-season in very good condition and is already showing that he is ready to push for a place in the team.”

Chilwell, a Leicester City academy product, has yet to make a Premier League appearance, but has featured for the England youth teams at multiple levels.