Leicester City 2018-19 Betting Preview: Even Without Mahrez, Foxes Remain Solid
2018-19 Premier League Betting Odds
- To Win Title: +35000
- To Be Relegated: +1200
- Point Total: 48.5 (Over +115/Under -145)
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In different circumstances one might look at the sale of Riyad Mahrez as a huge blow to Leicester, and that’s not to say it wasn’t, but the fee the club have received for the Algerian has allowed them to strengthen other areas, and the Foxes have done so very wisely thus far.
The feeling with which the fans look back at the summer window is still uncertain, however, and so much of the hopes heading into the season will rely upon the future of England World Cup hero Harry Maguire (pictured above). If Leicester can ward off interest from Manchester United and the lure of another huge fee — and perhaps tie the defender down to a new deal — the team will be in very healthy shape as they approach the campaign.
The astute acquisition of Jonny Evans for a cut-price fee was made with the intention of partnering up with Maguire after all, although the thought process behind the signing of Liverpool goalkeeper Danny Ward is a little less clear. The money spent on the young Welsh international does unavoidably point to a potential exit for Kasper Schmeichel — who is linked with Chelsea — and the loss of the Dane could have ramifications throughout the squad.
With Schmeichel being a key player not only on the pitch but in the dressing room, it would be intriguing to see whether his influence on the events at the club — both positive and negative since gaining promotion back to the top flight — would be missed.
Elsewhere the versatile Ricardo Pereira has arrived from Porto to solve a long-standing problem at right back and he thrived under Claude Puel’s guidance on loan at Nice. The Portugal international’s signature may also indicate that a change in formation is afoot.
Leicester, after all, have not sought to find a direct replacement for the aforementioned Mahrez, perhaps in acknowledgement that no such player exists within the constraints of their muscle in the market. Instead James Maddison has arrived after a superb season at Norwich, posting figures of 14 goals and eight assists to earn a place on the Championship team of the season.
With an eye for goal from distance and the ability to keep the ball in advanced positions, the 21-year-old operates behind a lone striker and is best with two holding midfielders who allow him to work his magic. Leicester could be in for a more possession-based approach as a result — having begun to value it more since Puel’s appointment — and a back three formation may be a distinct possibility too.
The Bet to Watch
The tactical versatility that they now possess should certainly stand the Foxes in good stead and, as things stand, theirs is a squad that should be aiming to bridge the gap to that familiar top six. Jamie Vardy’s form last season was underappreciated and he is going nowhere, while in Wilfred Ndidi they have one of the very best ball winners in the league, although he too is still somewhat strangely overlooked by the teams ahead of Leicester in the table.
It’s true that Mahrez’s absence may be felt early on, but if the team can adapt to a new way of thinking, they should be a shoo-in for another top half finish at the very least. At around evens to do so, taking Leicester to finish in the top-half at -140 (BetOnline) is a bit with little risk in my view.