Over at sister blog Fosse Posse they’re wondering if Leicester City is in danger of a drop in form as many of the team’s star players struggle with fatigue. The Foxes had a basically unchanged XI for most of last season’s games and are now using many of the same players in most their games this season while also dealing with a European campaign.
As our friend Michael Caley noted last season, teams that play the same XI week-in-week-out for more than a season usually see a major drop in results as the players become fatigued. Leicester may be set for such a run in the very near future if they don’t sort out their rotation strategy.
Of course, if there was a team besides Leicester last season that leaned too much on the same XI, it was Spurs. The reason in our case was basically the same as it was for Leicester: The drop in quality from a member of our first XI to their top backup was usually massive. In the rare case that a regular starter did have a serviceable backup, it was often another member of the XI who could play multiple roles. (Mousa Dembele was our best backup for Eric Dier. Erik Lamela was our best backup for Christian Eriksen.) Aside from Kevin Wimmer, there wasn’t really a single player outside of our regular XI who could seamlessly slot into the first XI last season.
This year, we probably have three players capable of doing that: Son Heung-Min, Victor Wanyama, and Vincent Janssen. We also have a handful of players who aren’t able to seamlessly slot into the XI but who are still good enough to play meaningful minutes for us—Ben Davies, Kevin Wimmer, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Harry Winks, Tom Carroll, Josh Onomah, and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou. Kieran Trippier is likely the weakest player in the squad but he’s been better this year than last.
For a team with concerns about depth heading into this season, it’s quite remarkable how quickly that concern has disappeared in the face of Son and Wanyama’s quality so far this season.
On to the links:
TFF has an interesting story on Galatasaray’s obsession with European football.
This piece analyzing Leverkusen’s tactical approach that allowed them to beat Dortmund is helpful.