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Hi, my name's Toby Wildgoose. I'm a 20 year old who's obsessed by sport, so much so, that I am looking to become a sports journalist/media officer in later life.

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Start Date: 11/12/12 (Aged 15)

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Leicester City: Is the Foxes' current position really that surprising?

After last weekend’s round of Premier League fixtures, one question remains on everybody’s lips: ‘will Leicester City have been relegated come the end of the season?’

The Foxes could become the first defending champions of England to be relegated from the top flight since 1938, when Manchester City dropped into the second tier just a year after securing the title.

Despite the rarity of this occurrence, its possibility has become an increasingly likely reality for Leicester after they lost their fifth consecutive Premier League game on Sunday – a 2-0 defeat away to Swansea. The result leaves the champions sitting precariously in 17th position, with just one place and one point separating them from the relegation zone.

Throughout the previous week, even before Sunday’s loss, discussion amongst journalists, and pundits alike, was rife regarding the cause of Leicester’s rather dramatic fall from grace. A multitude of factors have been cited as a cause of this, including Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez’s struggle for form, as well as the sale of N’Golo Kante to Chelsea in the summer for a fee of around £30 million.

Struggling for form: Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez

Ultimately, several factors have been deemed accountable for Leicester’s current plight, and whilst there is undoubtedly a stark contrast between this season and last for the Midlands club, the extent to which this is a surprise is up for debate.

Let us not forget that this is only the club’s third season back in the Premier League following their promotion from the Championship in 2014, and that for much of their first season back in 'the big time' they sat rock bottom of the table, with only a miraculous run of games ensuring their safety.

Not only this, but such a dip in form is not exactly a distant memory for Premier League fans. Just last season we saw the reigning champions Chelsea drop as low as 17th place in the table, despite retaining a squad that was considerably stronger than Leicester’s is now. This squad included the likes of PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard, 20-goal Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas (18 assists), and Thibaut Courtois, who secured an impressive 12 clean sheets.

If that Chelsea team could suffer such a dip in form, then surely it can’t be so shocking to see Leicester, a side who sat bottom of the Premier League just two seasons ago, suffer a relatively similar slump?

Before the current season had even begun, many speculated as to what impact the added commitment of Champions League football would have on the title winners, with some suggesting that the extra games would take a heavy toll on the squad.

Statistics now show that the fixtures have indeed had an impact, with Leicester not picking up a single win in Premier League games that have preceded a Group G match in the Champions League – losing five and drawing just one.

As many journalists and fans have already suggested, last season’s title winning campaign was a one-off, a fluke, something that will never be repeated again.

If we therefore take this exceptional year out of the equation, and consider that it was only the season before last that the Foxes were involved a relegation battle, it really should come as no great surprise that the club find themselves in a similar situation this time around. Add in the loss of N’Golo Kante, as well as the added commitment of Champions League football, to the equation, and Leicester’s current league position becomes ever less surprising.

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