After the dizzying heights of the 2015-16 season when Leicester City pulled off one of the greatest sporting shocks ever by winning the Premier League, 2016-17 saw the Foxes return to earth with a bump. Reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League was the only highlight of a season in which the club flirted with relegation and parted company with manager Claudio Ranieri. So what does the 2017-18 campaign have in store for Leicester?
Pundits predicted that Leicester would struggle to defend their Premier League crown, but few thought they’d make such hard work of it. An opening day defeat at Hull was followed by a patchy run of form in which they failed to attain any consistency.
A run of five Premier League defeats in a row in January and February, which left the club one place above the relegation zone, sealed Ranieri’s fate. Following his shock departure, caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare took over and produced an immediate turnaround in fortunes, guiding the team to five consecutive victories, which ensured their Premier League survival.
Bookmakers who had to pay out on the 5000/1 odds of Leicester winning the Premier League in 2016-17 have learned not to underestimate the Foxes and despite a twelfth-placed finish last season, the consensus among betting companies is that they are the eighth-best team in the division, available at a best-priced 400/1 with Bet Victor to win the Premier League.
They are available at Evens with Unibet to finish in the top ten and 9/1 with Bet Victor to break into the top six, but if you think their season might take a different turn, you can back them at a big price of 16/1 to be relegated. Bookmakers are less optimistic about the future of manager Craig Shakespeare, rating him as the fifth most-likely Premier League coach to leave his post; an eventuality you can back at 10/1 with Bet Victor.
What do the punters think?
The consensus of punters appears to be that Leicester will once again finish in a comfortable mid-table position. Of all the bets placed in the Premier League winners market this summer, only two percent have been on Leicester, while the Foxes have accounted for around four percent of all bets in the Premier League relegation market.
Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were the stars of Leicester’s successful Premier League campaign in 2015-16 and both are likely to be to the fore again if the Foxes are to have another good season. Jamie Vardy is available at 40/1 with Ladbrokes to finish as the Premier League Top Scorer, which looks like a tempting price.
Riyad Mahrez, meanwhile, is also a lively outsider in the Player of the Year Award market, where he can be backed at 66/1 while young star Demarai Gray, who is likely to play a major role in the season ahead, can be backed at 33/1 with Paddy Power to win the Young Player of the Year Award.
It was no secret that Leicester were heavily invested in bringing Swansea midfield star Gylfi Sigurdsson to the club, and had a £40 million bid rejected earlier in the summer, but it now seems likely that their efforts have failed with the Icelandic playmaker set to move to Everton.
The Foxes are still in the hunt for Watford striker Troy Deeney, who is 13/8 with William Hill to move to the King Power Stadium, and are one of a number of clubs in the running for Everton’s James McCarthy, who is 6/4 with BetVictor to move to the East Midlands.