What was truly remarkable about Leicester City’s Premier League title run-in last year was how smoothly they managed it. After a 2-1 loss to Arsenal of February 14, Leicester finished the season on a 12-game unbeaten run, winning eight and drawing four.
In those eight victories, they hammered their opponents by a scoreline of 14-1. That solitary goal was scored by Everton after Leicester had already clinched the crown. Essentially, they never slipped up; they never made a mistake.
It was sensational watching the back line of Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs approach one crunch match after another and never put a foot wrong. In football, when the smallest of margins and the freakest of accidents can make all the difference, Leicester continued to defy the expectations.
They played superbly, but they also had luck, momentum and fitness on their side. S*** happens in soccer, but it never happened to Leicester.
This season, it’s all come apart domestically. While Leicester versus Sevilla will be one of the best ties of the Champions League round of 16, the Foxes are currently 16th in the EPL table, only three points out of the relegation zone.
Against Everton Monday, Leicester suffered a shocking defeat by their standards of last season. With Jamie Vardy handed a contentious suspension, Leicester handed out over 30,000 Vardy masks to show their support for the striker. That was all the fun the King Power stadium would have on the afternoon.
.@vardy7's got his game face on!
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 26, 2016
Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs were also suspended after yellow card accumulation, and the Foxes performed diabolically in defense without them.
The central pairing of Wes Morgan, 32, and Marcin Wasilewski, 36, was embarrassed. Everton’s first goal was the result of their goalkeeper, Joel Robles, simply thumping the ball through the middle of Leicester’s defense.
Kevin Mirallas sprinted through Morgan and Wasilewski and finished beyond Kasper Schmeichel.
Ronald Koeman now has a reason to smile on Boxing Day pic.twitter.com/CTxjcRJoaa— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 26, 2016
The second goal arrived when Romelu Lukaku simply bullied Morgan out of possession and killed the match in the 91st minute.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork. Especially when it comes to celebrating. #PLonNBC pic.twitter.com/hlonfTCQHi— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 26, 2016
It’s difficult to criticize Leicester for anything following their heroics of last season. If anything, these goals only serve to highlight how unbelievable they played throughout 2015-16 rather than damn their current performances.
However, Leicester now have the burden of playing 10 matches in just under two months, including an FA Cup match against Everton and their big night against Sevilla.
It's no matter of hyperbole to say that they'll need to recapture some of their magic from last season if they’re to escape the relegation battle by March.