From laughing stock to Fantastic Mr Fox

Old blue eyes Claudio

Old blue eyes Claudio

With still so many people asking how, how are Leicester city doing this? We wanted to take a look at the players who have made this unlikely title tilt possible. These are the players that have Fox fans daring to dream…….

In arguably the most physical competition in the world, Premier League players are regularly victims of injury and varying managerial selections.

But manager Claudio Ranieri has had little to no issue with factors like these at Leicester City this season.

11 Foxes players (profiled below) have accumulatively made 256 appearances over the 25 rounds of the Premier League so far this season.

At Chelsea, Ranieri got the nickname ‘The Tinkerman’ for chopping and changing his line-up, but he’s had the luxury of being able to name nearly the same starting team week-in-week-out. That cohesion, momentum and fluency has proven to be a big reason that Leicester are three points clear at the top of the ladder in February.

Assuming the team can maintain their devastating form (as shown by their 3-1 trouncing of Manchester City at the Etihad) and stay injury free, can any side stop the Foxes making Premier League history?

Kasper Schmeichel (Goalkeeper)

The 29-year-old son of Manchester United goalkeeping legend Peter, joined Leicester from Leeds United in June 2011.

He made his Premier League debut for Manchester City in 2007 before moving to Notts County in League 2 and then to Leeds in the Championship in 2010, where he earned his first call up to the Danish national team.

He was bought by Leicester in 2011 and was named Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year after the 2011/12 campaign and was also recognised in the 2013/14 PFA Championship Team of the Season.

After missing months of the 2014/15 campaign with a foot injury, he has become essential for the Foxes’ success this season, making all 25 appearances in the Premier League and 74 saves along the way.

Wes Morgan (Central defender)

Morgan had made over 400 appearances for Nottingham Forest over eight-and-a-half years before his move to the Foxes in 2012.

Since his transfer, Morgan has been a colossus in defence. That led to him being named club captain and becoming the club’s Player of the Year in 2012/13, just days after being named in the PFA Championship Team of the Season.

He helped Leicester’s defence become the third best in the Championship in 2013/14 and lifted the Cup before helping the Foxes avoid relegation last season with five clean sheets in the last seven games.

In July 2014 he signed a new three-year contract and this season has made all 25 Premier League starts with 135 clearances and 27 blocks.

Robert Huth (Central defender)

The 31-year-old German’s move to Leicester came after a string of 14 impressive performances on loan at the club from Stoke City.

Alongside Morgan and Marcin Wasilewski, he helped the Foxes keep five clean sheets at the back end of 2014/15 to avoid relegation.

He won two Premier League titles at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho – but debuted at the Blues in 2002 under Claudio Ranieri.

Huth moved to Middlesbrough in 2006 and then Stoke in 2009, but found solid ground at Leicester after making more than 250 Premier League career appearances.

This season he has made 24 league starts and has 178 clearances and 23 blocks to his name.

Danny Simpson (Right back)

Simpson had proven his Premier League quality before Leicester signed him from Queens Park Rangers in 2014.

The 27-year-old began his career at Manchester United before moving onto Belgian club

Royal Antwerp, Sunderland, Ipswich, Blackburn and Newcastle United.

In 2010 he moved to Harry Redknapp’s QPR and played 34 times before joining Leicester on a three-year deal in 2013/14.

He made 16 appearances in 2014/15 and has played 18 times in the Premier League this season, making 115 clearances and 11 blocks

Christian Fuchs (Left back)

The versatile defender was the Foxes’ first signing in the summer of 2015 when he joined on a free transfer from German giants Schalke for three years.

A wealth of experience in the Bundesliga, Champions League and Austrian national team has further stabilised Leicester’s backline.

He began his career in Austria for Wiener Neustadt SC in 2002 before switching to Bundesliga side VFL Bochum in 2008 where he spent three years.

His move to Schalke saw him play in the Champions League for three straight years and he even opened the scoring against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in an astonishing 4-3 victory in 2014/15.

He played over 100 games for the German team before moving to Leicester where he has made 19 Premier League appearances that have included 109 clearances and six blocks this season.

Marc Albrighton (Midfielder)

The 26-year-old winger spent 16 years with Aston Villa from a young age before he agreed to a four-year deal with Leicester in 2014.

He made his debut for the Villa first team in 2009 and appeared a further 100 times for the club, with 86 appearances and seven goals in the Premier League.

After moving to Leicester he played 20 games in the 2014/15 season throughout April and May and was a big part of the Foxes’ top-division survival.

This campaign he has been involved all 25 games in the Premier League with a return of one goal and six assists.

Ngolo Kante (Midfielder)

The 24-year-old Frenchman was Leicester’s fourth signing in the summer of 2015 and the first under Claudio Ranieri.

He debuted for French side US Boulogne in 2012 before Caen bought him in 2013 where he played 38 games to help them move up from French Ligue 2.

37 appearances in 2014/15 underlined his potential and the Foxes swooped in to capture his signature.

This season he has featured in every Premier League game and has scored one goal to go with three assists.

While Vardy and Mahrez have taken the headlines, signing Kante might have been one of Ranieri’s great masterstrokes.

Danny Drinkwater (Midfielder)

The 25-year-old was born in Manchester and graduated from the United academy and had loan spells at Cardiff City, Watford and Barnsley before joining Leicester at the start of 2012.

This season Drinkwater has proven his ability to dictate the play from central midfield while influencing attacking advances.

He was the team’s top passer with over 2500 in 2012/13 and contributed eight goals in 2013/14.

Drinkwater made 24 appearances last season and has already played in the league 23 times this campaign, chipping in with a goal and four assists.

Riyad Mahrez (Midfielder)

The 24-year-old French-Algerian was Leicester’s first signing of the January 2014 transfer window after he signed a three-and-a-half year contract from French Ligue 2 side Club Le Havre.

The winger scored six times and had five assists for Le Havre in 2013/14 before joining the Foxes.

After scoring four goals in 32 Premier League outings last year, he became the first Leicester player since 2002 to play at a World Cup (for Algeria in 2014).

This season Mahrez has set the league alight with his 14 goals and 10 assists in 24 appearances and leads most experts player of the year leader boards.

 Shinji Okazaki (Striker)

The 29-year-old Japanese striker joined Leicester from Bundesliga side FSV Mainz 05 on a four-year deal in the summer of 2015.

He became the Foxes’ third signing of that summer and was regarded as one of the finest forwards in the German league with 12 goals for Mainz in his last season. He has also scored 43 goals in 93 appearances for Japan – the nation’s third highest goalscorer.

Okazacki began his career at J-League side Shimizu S-Pulse in 2005 at age 19 and netted 49 goals in 154 appearances before moving to Europe.

German side VfB Stuttgart picked him up in 2011 before he moved to Mainz in 2013 where he scored 15 goals in his debut season.

His move to Leicester makes him the seventh Japanese player to take the field in the Premier League – and he’s already notched up five goals and 11 shots on target in 23 Premier League appearances.

Jamie Vardy (Striker)

The Premier League’s leading goalscorer (18 goals) joined the Foxes in 2012 from Fleetwood Town for just over £1 million and ever since that day we have seen somewhat of a bender…. a bender known as the Vardy Party!!!!

The 29-year-old made his senior debut for Stocksbridge Park Steels in 2007 and after three successful years moved to Halifax Town in June 2010 – who was playing in seventh tier of English football at the time.

Vardy netted 27 goals and inspired promotion before moving to Fleetwood Town for the 2011/12 season where he scored 34 goals in 40 games to take his side up to the Football League.

The English striker’s performances resulted in an inevitable move to a higher division, and in 2012 Leicester snapped him up on a three-year deal.

Has there been a more shrewder bit of business done in recent times?

Vardy signed a new four-year contract in August 2014 and has appeared in every Premier League fixture this season to go with his 18 goals and 37 shots on target.

Now this is a team all naturals will be cheering for come May 2016






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