Tuesday 22 August 2017 / 07:26 PM

DEFENDING CHAMPS ON THE ROPES

In case you missed it, Leicester lost again this weekend. Badly.

To be fair, it was against an expensively assembled Chelsea side, but anyone who saw the 3-0 rout will be well aware that there was a significant gulf in class between the two sides.

The worrying thing for the Foxes is that this wasn’t a one-off game.

Claudio Ranieri’s side were similarly taken apart by Manchester United just a few weeks ago, and Liverpool a couple of weeks before that.

The league champions have only won twice all season, and lie in 13th place with a goal difference of -6.

It’s a world away from last season, when they lost just three games on their way to a fairytale triumph.

Whilst Ranieri and his men may have set their sights on survival this season, the reality is that the Leicester wage bill now reflects loftier aspirations for the club, with star players Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy both signing new bumper contracts.

In other words, according to the wage bill, Leicester should be fighting for Europe. According to the table, they’re only just clear of the relegation dogfight.

Whatever Ranieri says in the press, if his side continue to perform this poorly, question marks will be asked over his performance. Okay, so it was a once in a lifetime title win last season, and there was next to chance that Leicester would have been able to emulate it this season, but fans (and board members) are still entitled to expect a greater degree of success than they’re currently experiencing.

Perhaps most damningly, they’re leaking goals. Last year’s title triumph was built on the back of a sturdy defence and a fast, intuitive counter-attacking outfit.

This season, the team seem incapable of defending. They’ve given up 14 goals in eight outings – compared to just 36 in 38 games last year.

It remains to be seen how patient the Leicester owners are, but if Ranieri and his men continue this vein of form, it won’t be long before we find out.

On the pitch, it’s pretty obvious why things aren’t working out. Last season, Leicester relied on the opposition attacking them, catching them out on the break and using the pace of Vardy and the trickery of Mahrez to convert opportunities.

This season, people know what they’re all about, and their threats have been nullified. And at present, there doesn’t appear to be a Plan B.

A Plan B (and indeed a Plan C) is what Ranieri is being paid for, so it seems fair enough for the board to start demanding one. Should the Italian continue to offer up Plan A and continue to get beaten in the embarrassing way his side were outclassed on Saturday, serious questions are likely to be asked.

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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