So, there we have it, Leicester City have defied all the odds. The dream came true. Leicester City are the 2015/16 Premier League champions. I still can’t get my head around it so I’ll say it again. Leicester are champions! But just how did they do it? What was the secret to their success and what did it mean for Fantasy Premier League players?
Jamie Vardy’s goals were instrumental, particularly in the first half of the season, in consolidating Leicester’s position in the top four up until the New Year. He broke Ruud van Nistelrooy’s consecutive goal-scoring record, scoring in a whopping eleven games in a row from August 29 to November 28. As a result, the forward would score a minimum of 6pts in every Leicester match for three months. The Englishman scored against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United among others to put the Foxes top of the league on Boxing Day, and his price went from 6.0m to 7.7m, making him still 2m+ cheaper than Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane and Diego Costa. If you didn’t jump on the bandwagon, you pretty much kissed goodbye to a top 100k rank.
If you thought Vardy was cheap, Riyad Mahrez cost Leicester just £400,000 in January 2014. He showed signs of what he could do under Nigel Pearson. Four goals and four assists in his debut BPL season, but he was not starting every game and went to the Africa Cup of Nations in January. Ranieri has given him more freedom, provided that he tracks back, and he has blossomed sensationally over the course of the campaign. I had Mahrez in my team in the first Game-Week and captained him. I never looked back. On 236 points, no player comes anywhere near to the overall points tally that the Algerian has accumulated this season. At 5.5m in mid-August, he was a cheap midfield option who was crucial in Leicester’s 14/15 survival. That so-called fifth midfield spot. People were flooding their midfields with the likes of Hazard and Depay. But it was a no brainer. His moments of magic have often been the difference and helped the Foxes over the line, particularly with that curling left foot of his. Mahrez scored 35 FPL points after just three games. Remarkable. No wonder his fellow footballers vote him as Player of the Season. He sits on 17 goals and 11 assists with two games to spare.
Claudio Ranieri was always adamant that team spirit played a major role in his team’s triumphs. There was no selfishness in the side, every player was fighting for each other. Mahrez and Vardy dominate the headlines, but the goals were spread throughout the team. Ulloa (6), Okazaki (5), Huth (3), Morgan (2), Albrighton (2), Drinkwater (1), Schlupp (1), Kante (1) and I could go on. There were no passengers. From top to bottom, they were a tight unit and this was showed in their flurry of clean sheets throughout the Easter period with Kasper Schmeichel making some excellent saves. In 2016, Leicester defenders became key in FPL squads. Not just the consistent clean sheet points, but goals and assists too. Everything you’d want from your defenders. The New Year saw Huth score three times, Morgan score twice and Fuchs create three assists.
As we arrived at the run-in, it became simple. You could pick any Leicester City player and he would give you a return. Financing was not even a problem. No Leicester player ever reached above a value of 7.7m throughout the entire campaign. Whilst it has been beautiful to watch it all unfold, it did nonetheless make this season’s fantasy football shenanigans rather challenging. Some players relish the competitiveness, whilst others would have preferred last season’s breezing Chelsea and Fabregas-Costa bromance. All I can say is, and so can all three million plus players; I played FPL when Leicester won the league.
So that is how Leicester City have defied all the odds!
Written by Dean Ammi