If there's any team who know how to defy the odds in the Premier League, it is Leicester City. And in 2019/20, the Foxes are going to harness the spirit of 2016 to finish in the top four of the Premier League and secure Champions League football at the King Power Stadium.
After Leicester won the Premier League back in 2016, the top six has comprised of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United ever since. But Leicester are in the perfect position break their stranglehold on the top six spots in English football next season, and here's why.
Youri Tielemans: The young Belgian was sought after by a number of big six clubs, but it is a testament to Leicester's prospects that the King Power Stadium was his preferred destination. With three goals and five assists on loan last season, Tielemans had a direct involvement in a goal for every 136 minutes he was on the pitch.
Ayoze Perez: If his performances from February of this year onward are anything to go by, the Foxes have got a world-beater on their hands. While contrary to the form shown in the previous three and half seasons in English football, it is important to note the Perez's excellence in 2019 was no fluke. For the first time, the Spaniard was surrounded by quality players in Salomon Rondon and Miguel Amiron and the ten goals this calendar year were just reward after years of being starved of service.
With the likes of Tielemans, Jamie Vardy, James Maddison et al. around him, Perez is bound to continue his red hot form into 2018/19.
James Justin, Ali Reghba and George Hirst have also been added to their roster and are expected to play valuable roles as squad players.
Harry Maguire's seemingly inevitable departure will be a big loss to Leicester, but considering they are likely to recoup around £70m for the Englishman, they will be able to find a more than capable replacement. Brendan Rodgers' style of play relies on defenders who are comfortable playing with the ball at their feet and this will be a minimum requirement for any Maguire replacement.
It is this style of play that has brought Rodgers such success during his relatively short managerial career and is why Leicester will thrive next season. While his incredibly successful time as manager of Celtic will always be suffixed with the 'it's only Scotland' trope, the way he improved that squad cannot be denied.
During his first season in charge, Rodgers led Celtic to a 106-point treble-winning season - improving on the tally in the previous campaign of 86 points and just one trophy. They went the entire league season unbeaten for the first time since the end of the 19th century and dropped points in just four games.
Even with Liverpool, he delivered a nine-point improvement on the season prior to his arrival at the club and just one year later was a slip (*that* slip) away from winning the Premier League title. While the Reds' form slowly deteriorated following that second-place finish, Rodgers showcased his ability to coach and improve top level players.
This has even been on display in Rodgers' short spell so far at the King Power. Once he had got to grips with his squad, there were few better teams than Leicester last season. In the last ten games of the 2018/19, Leicester were the fifth best team in the Premier League, picking up 17 points in that period and finishing above Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
Considering one of the teams with a better record was Crystal Palace, who are not expected to be in the picture next season, their credentials for next season have already been shown.
Brendan Rodgers joined LCFC in January , revived the players and gave them an identity. Got Tielemans and Harvey Barnes on loan.— IslingtonGoonerAFC (@Born_a_gooner) May 7, 2019
They have massively improved in the 5 months hes been there.
Of course, it'll take more than a ten game run of form to achieve anything spectacular and breaking into the Champions League spots will mean having to finish above three of the 'big six'. However, that may not be as tough as it looks.
Arsenal seem to be in disarray off the pitch and their problems on the pitch are showing no obvious signs of disappearing. Chelsea have hired Frank Lampard - a promising, yet very inexperienced coach, who is currently unable to sign any players. Derby County's run to the play-off final was impressive, but their campaign last year was not without its flaws.
United are clearly a massive force, but they are currently in transition and their similarly inexperienced manager will need to bed in a host of new, unproven signings. Spurs look to have done some good business so far, but after an incredible run to the Champions League final and with the risk of losing Christian Eriksen, there is every chance their form will drop too.
The Foxes will start next season with one of the strongest starting XIs in the Premier League and with Rodgers at the helm, they have a real chance of making history. But not in the one-off style in which they won the Premier League in 2016.
In the 2019/20 season, Leicester City will finish in the top four and cement themselves among the Premier League elite for years to come.