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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Who were the Foxes in Leicester City’s Premier League title-winning season?

After Tottenham Hotspur were held 2-2 at Chelsea on May 2, 2016, Leicester City won their first top-flight championship in 132 years of existence under the helm of Claudio Ranieri.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: May 2, 2020 5:38:32 pm
Leicester City won the title with 81 points from 38 matches. (Source: Reuters)

Despite starting the season as 5000/1 outsiders to break the cash-rich monopoly of the Premier League, Leicester City won their maiden title, dethroning defending champions Chelsea in the process, on this day four years ago.

After surviving relegation by the skin of their teeth by winning seven of their nine league games in 2014/15, Leicester City appointed Claudio Ranieri as their manager at the start of the 2015/16 season. While none expected them to qualify for even UEFA Europa League, Leicester City went on to wrap their title up on May 2, 2016.

After drubbing Manchester City 3-1 at Etihad in February and drawing 1-1 against Manchester United at Old Trafford on May 1, the Foxes had one hand on the title. Tottenham Hotspur had to win at Chelsea the following day to keep their title chase alive, but owing to Eden Hazard’s performance, the North London side slumped to a dramatic 2-2 draw.

Without even kicking a ball, Leicester City won their first top-flight championship in 132 years of existence. On May 8, they were given a guard of honour by Everton and serenaded by opera singer Andrea Bocelli during an emotional pre-match celebration.

THE FOXES THAT LED THE CHARGE

GK: Kasper Schmeichel (38 apps): Although he lost to Petr Cech in the Golden Glove race, the Denmark international made his father Peter proud by keeping 14 clean sheets in the league campaign. The 33-year-old still remains Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City’s number one choice.

RB: Danny Simpson (30 apps): With consistent performances at the back, he was a mainstay in the 2015/16 season, but later slipped down the pecking order at Leicester City. He now plies his trade for Huddersfield Town.

CB: Wes Morgan (38 apps/two goals): The ever-present captain who transformed the defence that had conceded 55 goals in the previous season to the second-best in their title-winning season. His partnership at the back with Robert Huth was crucial in the second half of the season as Leicester conceded just 16 goals in the last 26 matches.

CB: Robert Huth (35 apps/three goals): Along with Morgan, the towering German centre-back had a steadfast season scoring crucial goals against Manchester City. He left the club at the end of the 2017/18 season, and announced his retirement in January 2019.

LB: Christian Fuchs (32 apps): After joining from Schalke, he made the wingback role his under Ranieri with his passing and crossing wreaking havoc in opposition defences in 2015/16 season. The 34-year-old Austrian now plays second-fiddle to Ben Chilwell at the King Power Stadium.

CM: Danny Drinkwater (35 apps/two goals): After a season defined by his reliability in the heart of midfield, the former Manchester United trainee made a big-money move to Chelsea in September 2017, and it has gone downhill from there. He has been loaned to Burnley and Aston Villa this season.

N’Golo Kante was signed as a 24-year-old from Caen for €8 million. (Source: Reuters)

CM: N’Golo Kante (37 apps/one goal): Signed from Caen in August, the then-unknown Frenchman was utilised as a right-sided midfielder at the start of the season, but once he was moved into a central position, he started showing his world-class potential. After the historic season with the Foxes, he won a second successive Premier League title in 2016/17 with Chelsea and then the 2018 World Cup with France.

RM: Marc Albrighton (38 apps/two goals): With his direct approach on the right flank and his eye for a cross, the former Aston Villa youth product was immovable from the first-team. He is still at Leicester City, but has fallen down the pecking order with the arrivals of James Maddison and Harvey Barnes.

CF: Shinji Okazaki (36 apps/five goals): Signed from Mainz in the summer of 2015, the versatile Japanese attacker’s work-rate and doggedness allowed Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy to properly flourish up ahead. He was released by Leicester at the end of last season, and now plays for Spain’s SD Huesca.

Out of the 68 goals in 2015/16, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy scored 41 of them. (Source: Reuters)

LM: Riyad Mahrez (33 apps/17 goals): Having arrived at Leicester City midway through their promotion campaign, the Algerian had his breakthrough season in 2015/16 by registering 17 goals and 11 assists. The 2015/16 PFA Player of the Year remained in the Midlands for two more seasons before moving to Manchester City in 2018 for a fee of £60 million, where he won the domestic treble.

ST: Jamie Vardy (36 apps/24 goals): Ever since joining from Fleetwood Town in 2012, he had shown patches of brilliance. In 2015/16, his form peaked and hit the ground running by scoring in 11 consecutive games between August and the end of November. Although he missed the Golden Boot to Harry Kane that season, his 24 league goals helped him to be named as the FWA Footballer of the Year. He still leads the charge at the age of 33 at the King Power, and led the scoring charts with 19 Premier League goals this season before the lockdown.

Apart from the first-team names, other players who contributed to the historic title-winning season are — Leondra Ulloa (29 apps/six goals), Andy King (25 apps/two goals), Jeffrey Schlupp (24 apps/one goal), Gokhan Inler (five apps), Ritchie De Laet (12 apps), Demarai Gray (12 apps), Daniel Amartey (five apps), and Nathan Dyer (12 apps/one goal).

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