Why Foxes are boxed in

> Af­ter their his­toric suc­cess last sea­son, Clau­dio Ranieri’s men have won just two of their first seven Premier League games this year <

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - JACK PITT-BROOKE

de­but, los­ing 4-1 at Liver­pool. Be­fore fac­ing Porto it was a sim­i­lar story, and they lost by the same score­line to Manch­ester United.

On Sun­day, they looked tired, strug­gling to find the same in­ten­sity in at­tack or de­fence that was so im­por­tant last year. This year, they have other pri­or­i­ties too.

Musa needs time

There was real ex­cite­ment about Ahmed Musa, when the Nige­rian striker tore into Manch­ester United dur­ing the Com­mu­nity Shield in early Au­gust. But since then he has strug­gled with fit­ness and ad­just­ment to the Premier League.

On Sun­day he was not in the match-day squad, and Clau­dio Ranieri con­firmed that, de­spite his fast start, Ahmed would need more time to ac­cli­ma­tise to the English game. Is­lam Sli­mani has started well, but Le­ices­ter need more from Musa too.

“He is work­ing very well, and he is adapt­ing now,” Ranieri said.

“When I watch him in the train­ing ses­sions, he now un­der­stands it is tough. But I had to choose. I think that sooner or later, he will come back and he will play.”

Le­ices­ter made their name with fast counter-at­tack­ing foot­ball last sea­son but when Jamie Vardy looks tired, as he did on Sun­day, Ahmed is more im­por­tant than ever.

Le­ices­ter have never been a pos­ses­sion team and it was their pa­tience in giv­ing up pos­ses­sion that made them so dan­ger­ous last sea­son.

This year, though, as cham­pi­ons, they do have to take the ini­tia­tive more of­ten in matches. Too many teams will come to the King Power hop­ing to es­cape with a 0-0.

But Le­ices­ter’s prob­lem is that when they have to cre­ate chances in open play against a packed de­fence, they find it dif­fi­cult.

Riyad Mahrez is their one player who has real qual­ity and imag­i­na­tion on the ball but they need more, in case he is hav­ing an off-day.

A Jan­uary in­vest­ment in an­other mid­fielder with real qual­ity would be a good idea.

In­evitable mo­ti­va­tion drop

The hard­est chal­lenge in foot­ball is to win again, to mo­ti­vate play­ers who are at the moun­tain-top to go and do it all again. Nei­ther Manch­ester City nor Arse­nal have ever re­tained a Premier League ti­tle, or even come close.

The last team to do it was Manch­ester United, in 2008-09, their third in a row, and they were the reign­ing English and Euro­pean cham­pi­ons, with Sir Alex Fer­gu­son and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo to guide them.

It is sim­ple hu­man na­ture that Le­ices­ter will not have the same drive that they did last year.

N’Golo Kante has gone and it would only be hu­man for Mahrez and Vardy to won­der if they might have done the same thing.

Pro­duc­ing the same en­ergy from the same play­ers two years in a row is un­likely, to say the least. – The In­de­pen­dent

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