This past weekend, newly promoted side Leicester City kicked off its first Premier League campaign in 11 years in style, twice equalizing against Everton to claim a creditable 2-2 home draw. The Foxes looked feisty enough, and with enough skill, to hold their own on many afternoons this season. I suggested that might be the case prior to the match.
It’s typical of preseason prognostications to assume a couple of the promoted clubs will drop right back down, and Burnley looks a pretty good bet to do so, but speculation about Leicester joining them seemed premature, even before their enticing opener. The Foxes rolled to the Championship title last season, and when you’re that dominant in England’s second division, your immediate future as a Premier League club looks OK.
The table below shows that Leicester had the seventh-most “dominant” Championship (or, previously, First Division) title campaign since the Premier League started in the 1992-93 season, in terms of the percentage gap above the second-place finisher. (It is the fifth club to break the 100-point barrier during a 46-match Championship season.)
Of those six teams ahead of them, every team since 1997 Bolton has survived its first season in the Premier League, and all but one of those survivors lasted at least four campaigns:
|TEAM (Season)||Points||Total > 2nd||How long in EPL?|
|Bolton (1996-97)||98||22.5%||Relegated following season|
|Sunderland (1998-99)||105||20.7%||Lasted four seasons|
|Reading (2005-06)||106||17.8%||Lasted two seasons|
|Newcastle (2009-10)||102||12.1%||Still in EPL|
|Manchester City (2001-02)||99||11.2%||Still in EPL|
|Fulham (2000-01)||101||11.0%||Lasted 13 seasons|
|Leicester City (2013-14)||102||9.7%||To be determined|
So, you can point to some of Leicester’s young, appealing talent like Liam Moore and Riyad Mahrez, or the summer import of striker Leonardo Ulloa, and have some validity for liking what Leicester City has to offer. But the reality is, they were a very good team last season and basically have brought that bunch up to the top division.
There’s a nice mix of promising players and established veterans who have some Premier League chops. Add in the experience of winning as much as Leicester City did last season, and chances are they’re not going to be one of the three worst teams at the end of this one.