Is Rodgers’ current XI better than Leicester’s 2016 title-winning side?
Leicester's 9-0 win over Southampton made them look like possible title contenders, but how does Brendan Rodgers' team compare to the 2016 champions?
Rodgers’ team looks great on paper and, in some areas, better than Claudio Ranieri’s title-winning side of three years ago. So, it is worth going through the two sets of players position by position.
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (2019) v Kasper Schmeichel (2016)
Same player – similar statistics – as the Dane made 99 saves in the title season and is on course to make 102 in this campaign. But the number of clean sheets could be down from 15 to only 11 this year if Leicester’s next 28 games follow the same pattern as their first 10. Verdict – Schmeichel 2016 – just.
Right-backs: Joao Pereira v Danny Simpson
Pereira is a massive upgrade on Simpson, who was brought into the Foxes’ title-winning side after their 5-2 defeat to Arsenal, going forward. The Portuguese star has scored two goals already this season and Simpson never scored for the club. But the Englishman’s defensive stats that season, when he had 79% tackle success and 125 clearances will be tough to beat. Verdict – Pereira.
Left-backs: Ben Chilwell v Christian Fuchs
Four assists and no goals for title-winner Fuchs, compared to one goal and three assists already from Chilwell, who should easily surpass the Austrian’s figures going forward. But, again, like the right-backs, probably not in defence. Verdict – Chilwell.
Centre-backs: Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu v Wes Morgan and Robert Huth
The same pattern emerges when assessing the two defensive partnerships. Leicester’s current duo are on the ball a lot more and their passing is much better. But the title winners were ultra-solid defensively, would run through brick walls to make tackles and headers and just edge the comparison. Verdict – Morgan and Huth.
Central midfield: Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi v N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater
Leicester’s engine room in 2016 was the perfect mix of Kante’s ball-winning agility and Drinkwater’s ability to find Vardy with an early pass. Rodgers’ preferred duo do things slightly differently but have five goals and two assists between them already. This one is too tight to call with Kante a notch above Ndidi and Tielemans offering more than Drinkwater. Verdict – A Draw.
Youri Tielemans has now scored in three successive games for Leicester City in the Premier League; his best scoring run since 2016 when he scored in three straight games for Anderlecht.
£40m is starting to look like a bargain. pic.twitter.com/2Y3ueuhZ1L
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 25, 2019
Right-wing: Ayoze Perez v Riyad Mahrez
No contest here and a bit harsh to compare as Perez is a striker, who scored a hat-trick while being played out of position against Southampton. Mahrez set a very high bar when he hit 17 goals and provided 11 assists on his way to the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award. Verdict – Mahrez.
Left-wing: Harvey Barnes v Marc Albrighton
A goal and four assists in nine games is a tidy return from Barnes so far and puts him on course to surpass Albrighton’s two goals and six assists from 2015-16. He won’t be far behind in big chances created either. Verdict – Barnes.
Number 10: James Maddison v Shinji Okazaki
Okazaki was a tireless worker for the Foxes and the perfect foil for Vardy, or so we thought, until Maddison linked up with the England striker the way he has done these past 16 months. The running stats might be in the Japanese’s favour, but that’s about it. Verdict – Maddison.
Centre-forward: Jamie Vardy (2019) v Jamie Vardy (2016)
Vardy is currently on pace to score 34 Premier League goals, he probably won’t, but he should go past his 2016 tally of 24 with some ease. He scored five penalties in the Foxes’ title year and only one through the first 10 games this year. Verdict – Vardy 2019.
Final Score – Rodgers’ Team 6-5 2016 Champions