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Can Leicester hang on, or is the great tiredness about to set in?

Can Leicester hang on?

by Tim Charlesworth

One of the (many) things that winds me up when I am listening to people talk about football is the accusation that the team is not ‘motivated’ or ‘trying hard enough’.  The observation that players should be trying harder is generally up there with the idea that people with a mental illness should ‘snap out of it’, or bereaved people should ‘move on’.

This is professional sport, not park football, there are very few occasions on which it makes any sense for a professional footballer to take their foot off the gas.  They are always playing for something.  Even if they want to leave the club, better performances will lead to higher wages at the next club.

Very occasionally you get a player who realises that they cannot cut it any more, or decides not to work so hard.  They know they will never get another contract, and the only option open to them is to collect their money until the end of their contract and retire, or drop down the leagues.

A recent example of this was Sebastien Squillaci, who seemed to lose any hope after about six months at Arsenal, and simply let his career slide away.  Faced with deteriorating effectiveness, most players desperately seek first team football as an alternative to ‘seeing out the contract in the reserves’.  Even Squillaci has been a regular for Ligue 1 Bastia for three seasons since leaving Arsenal.

Another example of this is Emmanuel Addebayor (bless him!), who is truly raging against the dying of the light with his latest (apparently futile) move to Crystal Palace.  Addebayor got his big pay day when he moved to City.  All his subsequent moves seem to be motivated more by a genuine desire to play, rather than to gather cash.

The fact is that most professional footballers love the game.  They love playing and they enjoy training.  These are not average individuals.

A Premiership football career requires massive dedication and sacrifice.  It is difficult to spend endless hours on football drills if you don’t enjoy it.  There are the odd occasions when outrageous talent, combined with pushy parents and coaches can get a player through, but this is rare.

Most players who appear to be ‘effortless’ are conning you.  They actually spend hours and hours practicing to look like they are not trying.   They tend not to mention this, as it suits their marketing image for people to believe that they are ‘naturally gifted’.

Believe me, any player that you see playing for Arsenal, has worked very hard to get there.  If you ever could detect a reduction in effort, it would probably be on the training ground (which fans don’t see), not during a match.  A player’s default setting is to give 100%, especially during a match, and it takes quite a lot to stop them from doing so.

Can effort levels dip during a match?

Of course, there are occasions in a match where the effort levels will drop.  This usually occurs when the outcome of a match is decided, either in the case of a victory or a defeat.

This was recently noticeable towards the end of the Barcelona and Everton matches.  In such circumstances, both teams can drop into a sort of implicit ‘conspiracy truce’ where the ‘snappiness’ of the tackling declines and everyone drops a little deeper position-wise.  Players are quite used to playing like this, because it is similar to what they do in training.  It is a way of playing that avoids injury and excessive fatigue.  It is perfectly sensible to do this in circumstances where the outcome of the match is very unlikely to change.  Effectively, the players are saving their limited energy for a game in which their effort might actually change the result.

There are also rare occasions in which the subconscious efforts made by players may reduce.  This can happen if players are upset with each other or with the manager (or maybe even the fans).  This may have happened to Chelsea earlier this season (but see alternative explanation below).  However, I don’t think that Arsenal have been affected by any of these scenarios in recent weeks.  I don’t think there was any lack of effort or motivation against Watford or Swansea.  If you look at the statistics from these games like distance run, they suggest no diminution of effort.  There may be occasions on which the team ran out of ideas a little bit, but not when they ran out of motivation.

And that brings me to an interesting observation about Leicester City.  They do appear to be getting a little bit in excess of 100% out of their players.  The movement of the players on the pitch seems slightly manic, the determination is palpable.  They look like an irresistible force.

The way they are playing, with hard fought 1-0 victories reminds me of Blackburn Rovers during their run in to the 1994-5 title, and even Leeds in 1991-2.  Both of these teams seemed to be winning by sheer force of will towards the end of the season.  They seemed to draw on deep reserves of energy and determination that are not usually available to players.  Interestingly, in both cases, the teams did not recover from their gargantuan efforts.  Both teams failed to put up any sort of defence to their titles, and never recovered their competitiveness.

Can a team exhaust itself, and did Chelsea do it?

I am beginning to wonder if the same thing happened to Chelsea last season.  We haven’t seen such a poor title defence for a while in the Premiership.  All the teams that have won recently have not needed to go into deficit in order to do so.  Manchester United, Chelsea, and Man City have had deep and talented squads.  But maybe this is changing, as the Premiership becomes more competitive.  Maybe the Premiership is now so tough to win, that it is becoming very difficult to repeat.  It is now seven consecutive seasons where the Champions have failed to defend their title.

The 2014/15 Chelsea had a wonderful start to the season, based on brilliant runs of form from two newly signed players, Fabregas and Costa.  Basically Fabregas passed it to Costa, who scored.  This is a neat trick, and Chelsea built up a large lead in the Premiership on the back of it.

As Fabregas and Costa inevitably faded, Chelsea hung on for grim death, relying on defensive solidity and Eden Hazard.  I remember thinking that the way that Chelsea celebrated their 0-0 draw at the Emirates in April 2015 was a bit strange.  Arsenal’s late run was impressive, but Chelsea still looked pretty secure at the top.

With the benefit of hindsight, I suspect that Chelsea were hanging on more than anyone realised at the time (possibly deceived by the cunning Mourinho).  Chelsea were, perhaps, a lot more worried by Arsenal’s late charge than anyone really appreciated, hence the celebrations.

Hazard’s loss of form is one of the great mysteries of this season.  I don’t accept that he has lost motivation because he wants to move.  Hazard is doing himself no good at all, and his previously high stock is plummeting fast.  This looks involuntary to me, and will affect any kind of deal that he can get for himself, if and when he leaves Chelsea.  Mourinho put a lot of pressure on him to perform towards the end of last season, and he rose to the challenge, but its beginning to look as if he may have done so by dipping into irrecoverable reserves.

The parable of Petit

Hazard’s travails remind me a bit of Emmanuel Petit.  By any standards, Petit had the most incredible season in 1997/8.  He moved to Arsenal in the summer, played brilliantly in the double team (after a slow start), established himself in the French team and won the World Cup (scoring in the final from a Patrick Vieira assist).

After the world cup, he was a 27 year old with the world at his feet.  Unfortunately, he had played over 50 games that season, many of them very competitive, and he would never be the same again.  He remained a dominant player on the pitch, but niggling knee injuries made those performances increasingly rare.  Our failure (by one point) to defend the title in 1998/9 was very much the story of a failure of Vieira and Petit to reproduce their form of the second half of 1997/8, and Petit’s absences were the most obvious symptom.

I think Petit had just given too much in the previous season.  He had taken his body beyond the point of natural endurance in the joyful euphoria of Arsenal’s winning run at the end of the season, and then France’s similar run in the World Cup.  And this kind of phenomenon has been observable in other periods of Arsenal’s history.

The run of ten consecutive victories from March to May 1998 was incredible, and the team made it look easy, but as soon as the title was won, they lost the next game 4-0.  The failure of the Invincibles to defend their title in 2004/5 is a bit strange in the context of their dominance the previous season.  The team looked tired at certain points.  The achievement of the 49 games may have come at a price.

What is long-term fatigue?

Long-term tiredness is a curious phenomenon in human beings, and is not well understood by science.  We understand short-term tiredness.  We understand that running a marathon will cause micro-damage to muscles and tendons that require rest to heal and various chemical imbalances in the body that need to be restored by the body’s metabolic processes.  Similarly, we understand the relationship between sleep deprivation and tiredness.  We even understand some of the mechanisms in the brain that cause this.  However we have very little understanding of long-term fatigue.

We will all be familiar with periods in our life when we have worked very hard, and we feel exhausted in a way that a long weekend with plenty of sleep cannot get rid of.   We are mysteriously able to avoid injury or illness during these periods, but such things often catch up with us soon afterwards.

Major events like moving house, or having a new child can also elicit this response.  Sportsmen seem to suffer from a similar kind of fatigue.  Tennis players suffer if they play too many tournaments in a season and footballers seem to suffer if they do too much in a season.

It seems that humans have the ability to draw on some kind of reserve of energy, both mentally and physically.  We almost seem to be able to ‘borrow’ future energy.  Presented with a prize in front of our noses, such as a Premiership, a World Cup, a new house or a new baby, we may not even be aware that we are operating at over 100%.  But if we do so, there is a consequence, and the payback period can be long.

Arsene Wenger sometimes talks about being in the ‘red zone’ to describe this scenario, almost as if a player is building up an overdraft.  Alexis Sanchez is an example of this.  His feats last season were superhuman, and he seemed to be able to draw on deep wells of energy.  He seemed to defy commonly understood rules about fatigue, but there may be a consequence to this extraordinary spell of energy, and we may be seeing it now.  So if you want Arsenal players to ‘try harder’, be careful what you wish for.

So what of Leicester?

It seems to me that, with the winning post in sight, Leicester are drawing on deep reserves of energy, that are not really available to other teams or players.  Their performances represent a rare collective phenomenon, and are worth watching in that light.  Their closing down, concentration, tackling and defensive agility are exceptional.

My suspicion is that they will probably find enough resources to hang on to the end of the season.  This may make you happy (because they beat Tottenham) or sad (because they hold off a late charge from Arsenal).  Either way, I expect them to suffer the consequences of dipping into the red zone, at the start of next season.  I am not at all optimistic about their Champions League campaign in 2016/17.


Arsenal scout (and occasional Untold columnist) Danny Karbassyioon is today interviewed in the Independent…

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40 comments to Can Leicester hang on, or is the great tiredness about to set in?

  • Arwar

    I think they will hang on.
    They are worthy champions.
    But please please please
    not below spurs

  • topanlesmana

    I think they will be the champions of PL this season, then they will follow Chelsea’s footstep next season. Up up….and then down you go. 😀

  • nelson ndlovu

    i still see Arsenal landing the title. have not yet thrown in the towel

  • Arthur

    Leicester are doped and the referees are corrupt. See footballisfixed website for full details. The title is fixed for them.

  • nicky

    In boxing there is an old maxim that “a good boxer is a hungry one”.
    In professional football pre-WW2, the same could be said. Players’ wages were above the national average but not grossly so.
    The situation changed, post-war, when satellite television and advertising resulted in an unprecedented increase in the wages of sportsmen.
    They were no longer hungry and seeking an assured financial future.
    Today, the level of pay of the top echelon of professional footballers is obscenely high and getting higher.
    Wages are now so high that most players can afford to appoint agents to handle financial matters on their behalf. And insurance investments will guarantee a continued high standard of living on retirement.
    I therefore question whether today, the same incentive exists to maintain such a high level of performance as in the past.

  • Brilliant piece of writing. I find it difficult to understand why some people predict the result of, not one or two matches, but seven (or eight in Arsenal’s case). That Leicester has set a trend of maintaining a lead does not mean it will continue to be like that till season’s end, super-motivation or not.

    I agree that Arsenal did not lack in motivation in the matches they lost or drew. The winning streak seemingly ended, and now is starting again. That is how life is. That Leicester is on top now does not mean they have won the league. A bad injury, a suspension or two, a sudden and inexplicable dip in form (or luck) and other things that are beyond the manipulative powers of the refs are waiting in the shadows. This league is not sewn up as some think. Not by any stretch of the imagination!

  • nicky

    On this Good Friday, 43 years ago, one of Arsenal’s and England’s footballing legends passed away.
    Eddie Hapgood, left back and captain both for club and country in the 1930’s.
    After WW2, Eddie fell on hard times and asked the club for a testimonial match (which he had never had).
    Parsimonious Arsenal declined but sent him a cheque for £30.

  • BarryL

    A really good post Tim.
    If Leicester win the EPL good luck to them for a great season.
    but….the season isn’t finished yet. To lose 3 times before the end of the season seems unlikely, but who knows.
    Arsenal should concentrate on winning each game, overhauling the Spuds to 2nd, then see what chance left to catch Leicester.

  • upp

    Good post but several paradoxes, in the first few paragraphs you seem to say teams don’t give less effort than they’re capable of, then you later agree that that relative to teams like liecester this season, teams indeed can do so. Personally I think this was borne out of pressure to say nice stuff about arsenal/discredit WOBs on an arsenal site. I think from the article it’s clear that you believe teams for several reasons can be putting less effort especially relative to others, but you don’t think this is the problem with the arsenal team. .fair enough.
    Another point I disagree with is that most professional footballers are motivated enough by love of the game and something to play for. I believe more professionals especially those in the top leagues, feel blessed enough to have made it that far. They have achieved more than 99% of professional footballers worldwide. They earn more than the presidents of their countries. For eg adebayor, he’s probably the richest man in his country, earns more than the top doctors, lawyers, engineers in Togo, and he didn’t even go to school. We all love football, amateurs and professionals, but doedoes that motivate enough to make a player the best (ala Ronaldo or Messi)? I don’t think so. I think liecester will hang on and win the league, and for liecester fans that will probably be enough even if they are relegated next season (I don’t think they will be relegated), for Chelsea fans not competing this season after winning Last season must be considered a disappointment. This difference shows the difference in expectations between a big team and a small one. Brings me to arsenal, what is the expectation? I would rather arsenal exhausted itself and won the league one season and struggle for 4th place in the next, what is yours?

  • virg

    Analysis of opta stats shows that at different game states (score lines) teams play differently. At 0-0 the bigger/more attacking team will have a high number of shots with the smaller team looking to counter. If the bigger team scores, their number of shots decreases as they drop back and attack only when there is space to exploit when the opposition attacks.

    Arsenal play this way and are well adept at keeping opposition at an arms length. When they cede possession it may often look as though the team has stopped putting in effort and the opposition is on top of us, but what the players are really doing is closing spaces and stoping key passes, thus forcing teams to take long shots against us.

    In fact if you look at the map of shots against us in most games this season it actually looks like there is an imaginary line a few feet outside the box from where most teams take their shots, with only a few shots coming from behind that line or inside the box. Most times those shots only come from skilled opposition or momentary losses in concentration from our defenders but they also do come from the ref ignoring fouls on our players before the ball is taken into the box (think Long on Kosc in the Southampton game).

    A ref ignoring a foul which then leads to a goal at a time when it looked like the opposition was on top of us due to our tactic of keeping them at an arms length is another thing that affects how the team’s “effort” looks, and with the number of times it has happened to us this season it can’t be understated.

    Chelsea’s situation is much more complicated than simple fatigue when one analyses deeply, but it’s true their early form won them the title and so their effort dropped later on.

    It’s interesting that you note of Leicester that: “They do appear to be getting a little bit in excess of 100% out of their players” and that they seem “manic”. Especially since their energy levels seem to have risen spontaneously since the end of last season, nobody would have noticed it then (although Wenger did say he and the arsenal management did start noticing Leicester’s team effort was “special” from the end of last season) since teams who are fighting relegation usually do amp up the effort. But what accounts for such energy this season when their manager stated that they barely train and eat what they want. Remember Wenger did bring up the doping issue this season. And I wonder what we would find if Leicester had a supporter like Walter who did a ref review like the one done for Arsenal games.

  • Pat

    Very interesting analysis, Tim and virg. Arsene Wenger said it hurts him when people say this team is not making the effort. He sees them in training and elsewhere out of competitive matches, as well as during the matches themselves.

    It is all too easy for someone who has never been a competitive top level footballer to make comments about lack of effort. The fact that you earn a lot of money doesn’t make you superhuman.

    Whatever the reasons for Leicester’s unusual performance this year, I tend to agree that they are unlikely to be able to repeat it next season.

  • Rich

    I think the gap is doing wonders for Leicester psychologically.

    While it’s there, they are able to keep the pressure at a distance, knowing in the back of their minds they can actually afford to lose a couple of games. They also know they really don’t want to be in that situation, of having lost the games and seen the gap shrink.

    I liken it a little bit how you feel for a short while after you have recovered from some illness. You feel grateful and you get the benefit of being able to directly compare good health with the opposite. This fades as a real sense of ill health quickly evaporates.

    Leicester are getting to operate at the moment in a sweet spot where they can sense and draw energy from the pressure that will come on them if they lose that gap but without being hit by the pressure itself. The motivation each game is ‘let’s keep the gap as it is’. They might only need to keep that up for another 3 or 4 games and that must feel very do-able, especially as the fixtures are relatively kind.

    Should they have had,say, only a 3 point lead, it would have resulted in very different psychological pressure which would have made the likelihood of them dropping points in the last two games much greater.

    As long as they have that buffer it sets them up beautifully for a few more of these manic efforts. Was dismayed they won their last two and think they need to drop points in two of their next three to give us a shout.

    Lose, leicester, lose; right away, please. Then again.

  • Jambug

    Great article Tim

    When I played I NEVER walked onto a football pitch with any other intension than to give 100%.

    The thing is though, 100% on one day could be a mile away from 100% on another.

    But why?

    Did it depend on the opposition?

    Did it depend on our form?

    Did it depend on my form?

    Did it depend on my confidence?

    Did it depend on the weather? Honestly I hated the wet and cold.

    Did it depend on my mood?

    All I know is, like most players, especially at my lowly level, I had good days and bad days. I could even have a good half and a bad half ! But why?

    I’m sure I don’t know but I do know it wasn’t through lack of effort, at least not consciously.

    As I was reading through I was wondering if you would mention 3 games in particular, Southampton, Swansea and Watford. You mentioned 2, but I think what you said applied to all 3:

    “I don’t think there was any lack of effort or motivation against Watford or Swansea. If you look at the statistics from these games like distance run, they suggest no diminution of effort. There may be occasions on which the team ran out of ideas a little bit, but not when they ran out of motivation.”


    And you can add to those 3 Hull at home.

    We dominated a massive percentage of those games. We played very well for a large proportion of those games. Statistically we where by far the better team.

    Okay, we did have poor spells and perhaps ran out of ideas at times, especially towards the end of the Swansea game, but to suggest the effort wasn’t there or that we didn’t deserve to win those matches is a massive misrepresentation of what actually took place.

  • Jambug


    Oh, and yes they can.

  • Menace

    In any sport there are several peripheral influences that impact performance. Sledging is an example that most have heard of & its impact varies from improvement to demotivation for moral reasons. Sledging in football is mainly from fans with banners & some verbal abuse. Officiating with negative influence is another peripheral impact. Off the ball fouling, another peripheral abuse.

    It is not easy to estimate how influential a pseudo foul given against you can measure up. There are so many aspects of officiating that seeps energy out of a player. Alexis continually getting ignored when fouled must tire him. Kos, Ozil & Elneny will also reduce their effort because of consistent cheating (selective vision) by officials. Arsenal (incidentally spelt with a capital A) have had more peripheral foul play against them than most other teams.

    I am amazed that very few supporters or fans see the continual demotivation being heaped on one of the most independently financially successful teams in England. It was recognised by Europes greatest player yet is ignored by the self centered media in England.

    Can Leicester hang on? More like will Leicester continue to be gifted victories by PGMOL?

  • Andy Mack

    Leicester have rarely looked like the better team in any game, although equally they’ve rarely looked like the worse of the 2 teams as well. That’s because they don’t have a particularly good set of players in the squad. However they do have a few and those very good players have hit some real ‘form’ (I would say 3 being Vardy, Mahrez and Kante) and that gives the rest of the squad real confidence. Drinkwater really shouldn’t be anywhere near the national team (unless then need someone to collect their laundry) but his confidence level is so high he almost looks like s decent PL player.
    This confidence means that when the left back sees a bouncing ball in his 18 year box he knows he can hit it just inside the halfway line on the right side because Mahrez will be there. Invariably at the moment Mahrez will be running into that area and defence is suddenly attack. This confidence of just knowing 100% goes throughout the team at the moment.
    But their next 4 games could easily start to throw up surprises. Sotton, WHU and Swansea can all put in a good ‘shift’ on their day whilst Sunderland are scrapping for their PL survival and often create a surprise, especially if Fat Sam wants his team to sit back which would cause Leicester problems to break down.
    Will one loss be enough to break their confidence or will it need 2 losses and a draw…
    Or maybe a 5 game injury to Vardy or Mahrez..or both…
    We may not find out, but if it happens then suddenly their left back has to look where Mahrez is which slows the pass to him (and may actually end up behind him instead of in front to run on to)…
    Confidence and lack of confidence are two major factors in top level football.
    As a winger when you know you can cross the ball to the near post and Vardy will bury the ball in the net then you somehow find that extra half a yard that make it possible.
    The Dons were nowhere near good enough to win the 88 FA Cup, but they did.
    Sunderland in 73 ditto.
    In the same way Barca start every game with a mental lead as they know they’ll win (even on the rare occasions they don’t) whilst most of their opposition know they’ll lose.
    Confidence and lack of confidence.

  • jamiestunner

    Fantastic post Tim.

    Raises some very valid questions. I think your evaluation of Chelsea’s situation is quite correct. They had a few players that played 35 games last season (EPL only). I think a professional footballer in England should play less than 40 games a season, otherwise the mental fatigue you speak of will begin to set in.

    I think this theory can also be applied to the Jack Wilshere conundrum. I feel like his young body couldn’t cope with the amount of games he played in his breakout season, and combined with the tackles from Gabriel and McNair, he’ll find it difficult to ever play at such a high level consistently.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Excellent article Tim….and an interesting read on long term fatigue.
    As for Leicester, know what I saw from them and the ref in the recent game against us, and I didn’t like it. Very cynical, and certainly for the first half, the ref was incredibly lenient on them….then changed for some reason.
    But, they do take their chances….perhaps unlike another team I can think of. They seem to be in a run whereby everything goes goes for them….over twice as many penalties as anyone else….palace hitting the bar in the last minutes…..referee decisions….., as with Spurs, an almost freakish avoidance of injuries. (Compare and contrast with us and city on that front).
    I hope Spurs and Leicester have, like Arsenal after wengers comments on doping…..experienced 11 WADA inspectors turn up it training.
    But maybe this article explains a possible alternative to the effects of PED, a theory embraced by FIF for some time now.
    I don’t know if Leicester will hang on or not, I suspect they will, but if not, I suspect they will receive help from certain quarters. Leicester winning would look very good for ruling bodies in English football.
    If Leicester fall next season…..will the same happen to Spurs? And if not, Ovan should be poaching their medics and fitness staff.

  • Andy Mack

    with more games next year Leicester will suffer more injuries.
    They may bring in some more quality in the summer but they’ll need to bring in 4 big signings to guarantee 1 of them does well in his 1st season, and we know 4 big signings in one summer rarely leads to team harmony with the existing squad…
    Unfortunately I’d be surprised if they attain a Europa League place next season without major assistance from the PGMO again (more than this season)…

  • Nonny

    Sorry to digress a little Tony. Couldn’t stop laughing when I saw on skybet Arsene Wenger as next Man U manager for 80/1.

    @Authur Read the footballfixed blog. Makes a whole lot of sense.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Tim, Leicester future energy reserve from which the Foxes have been drawing late energy from has gone empty.

    Leicester will have no more future reserved energy saved to draw from when they host the Saints after the international break. We see this happen if the Saints will not betray themselves.

    The Gunners have lost their title charge confidence. But have regained it back after the Boss has formed a new late title charge starts which took Everton to the cleaners last wekend. These new Boss’ starters and bench will wreck havoc against their next 8 BPL opponent teams as Arsenal look to deny Leicester any access to lift the BPL title trophy.

  • @ Nonny – If i am not mistaken there is a few on untold that are aware of the findings from the Author of Footballisfixed. But if I am correct (I could be wrong) they have differing views on how to handle the information. For me I read both and find valuable information between the 2 sites.

    For anyone else I also suggest you read the blog and follow on Twitter, you will have more respect for Wenger have a better grasp in general about what happened at Chelsea with Mouriniho (even though I dislike him the refs where not a fan of him this season).

    Arsenal would have and should have won a lot more but the money markets and the old boys club saw to it that we did not.

  • upp

    @andy mark
    They bought zero big signings this year and see where they are. Why then should they worry about big signings for next year?

  • Andy Mack

    upp, I guess you’re not aware that if they finish in the top 4 this season then they’ll have CL football next season. And they’ll try really hard to make a good impression in it to justify their place there, but with the addition of only the ‘group stage’ games, that’ll have a big effect on their season. Without any new signings they know they’ll have problems like every single PL team in their first CL season.

  • upp

    I’m aware. But they’re are already justifying their place in the EPL with the small but smart signings. I believe it’s about getting the best value out of a player, and as long as they feel they can continue to do that I can’t see why they’ll feel pressured to make the big signings

  • para

    If Leicester win PL, be sure they are prepared to get players to have a go in CL. Leicester is no flash in the pan, they have been carefully managed to get to where they are, and that support will continue.

    Arsenal on the other hand needs some changes if we are to progress. What changes? There are many different suggestions, but they all can agree that changes are needed.

    The players work hard physicaly but sometimes switch off mentaly, especially at the wrong times.

  • upp

    I agree with you 100%. There has to be a hunger and I believe that starts from the top. The owner and board must show hunger by giving the manager a target and support to achieve that target. The manager must show hunger by making good use of the resources available, and bringing in the unavailable to meet the target. The players must key in to the project and play their part to achieve this, any player not fitting into the plan has to make way for others just like Leonardo ulloa who was liecester’s star forward last season has had to give way for the in form vardy this season

  • Andy Mack

    upp, yes they got great value for their players but they won’t be able to wait 18 months for the next Mahrez to make his mark at the club the way this Mahrez did.
    Similarly a poor season, one reasonably good season followed by another poor season and finally this stellar season wouldn’t be afforded to the next Vardy (especially now they’re a PL team).
    Their 2 most expensive signings (Okazaki and Ulloa) look like very decent cover players but certainly aren’t earth shakers.
    This is a team that’s over-achieving even more than we did during the 07-11 period.
    Irrespective of where they finish this season, they will be top 4, but if they were to only finish in a Europa Cup position, I’d still expect them to have a poor 16/17 season as their existing squad isn’t deep enough and too many new faces causes squad problems.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Truth, I am one who sometimes reads FIF…..but it is pretty depressing if true. Indeed, if he is right on all he says, there is no point in even watching the game any more.
    The author …in contrast to untold says little about himself, his sources or his methods…..except it seems to paying clients……which is fair enough if he makes a living, as he says from consultancy on these matters.
    But many of his viewpoints seem startlingly close to those of untold.
    If he is correct about Leicester, he should be initiating an investigation.
    But if he has the evidence/ proof he claims, just wish he would do us all a favour and blow the corrupt out of the water ……..and make quite a lot of money by doing so. There would surely be media outlets somewhere, if not in this country who would go with it…..if he has what he claims

  • upp

    It’s about expectations. You seem to expect more from them than their fans expect. Personally I think the average liecester fan would be ecstatic with winning the league this year and managing to fend off relegation next year. They all agree they have massively over achieved. And I must say I believe the manager must be commended just like AW got praise for his early achievement, turning a relegation threatened team to title chasers requires a big mentality change and sometimes a ruthlessness which ranieri has shown he can dish, and if vardy can no longer cut it at the top, I haven’t seen anything to make me doubt he has the balls to dish out the ruthless change. Remember what happened to mahrez when he missed 2 penalties

  • Jacobite Gunner

    Are there any statistics to support the theory about Chelsea last season and Leicester this season. key match stats regarding fitness indicators??

  • Jacobite Gunner

    It would back up an interesting article/line of thought.

  • @ Mandy – All I would say on the matter is when I first found out I was gutted also, but then it endeared me even more to arsenal having been a fan during the late 80’s to current. knowing that if not for all the BS around the premier league we would at least in England be shown to be as great as, if not more so then a certain northern team struggling with out the help they was used to. Alas keep the faith we will be the ones smiling at the end of it all when it comes crashing down and it will.

    As a side note follow closely the stuff about BT and certain pundits, big reason for this seasons shock premier league table.

  • Florian


    Comparing us and Leicester as far as progress is concerned is like apples to oranges I’m afraid.

    You probably know that there are 3 phases of the progress cycle:
    1. Small improvements lead to small gains. This is where the seeds are being sown, good processes are being instituted, and experiments being carried out. It’s a bit like childhood, when we use trail and error to figure out who we are and what we want to become.
    2. Big improvements lead to big gains. This is where rapid progress is being made, the results from the previous phase have been analyzed and discerned, the processes have been implemented and are yielding benefits. This is a “cut loose and do it” phase that if done right can take one quite far. It’s the phase of the big upside.
    3. Small improvements lead to significant gains. At the end of the phase 2, the results seem to hit a ceiling. This is universal in the lifetime of any organization, and the way forward is to iron out the small details that increase the entity’s quality and effectiveness and make the difference between achieving the desired results or not. These differences are usually small and sometimes seemingly worthless but they are usually justified by the benefits they bring. In terms of investments, this is the “small upside” phase.

    Now, back to the practical matters.

    Leicester shot up 20 places in 1 year. This is a typical example of a team that went through a rebuilding process, has the good base in place, and is building on it. The proof is in Nigel Pearson’s statements, who acknowledged that Leicester were seeing the results of their work in the last part of the previous season, when they escaped relegation. Unfortunately Pearson seemed to be unable to take the club forward and subsequently Ranieri came in.

    Ranieri is actually the typical phase 2 guy. He did this kind of work at almost all the clubs he managed – Roma, Napoli, Chelsea (when they were still preserving a hint of respectability), and now Leicester. He is able to foster growth up to a certain level, which suited this team perfectly.

    I am keeping my doubts as to how far can Ranieri actually take his team. There are 2 factors here that I can see:
    – Ranieri’s aforementioned track record. He failed miserably at Valencia, a mature team that had won the UEFA Cup and where he was unable to find the necessary upside to help it progress.
    – Leicester’s financial resources. Even with the new PL deal, they will still be at a disadvantage compared to the big boys (with us among them sic!).

    Now, Arsenal is the typical Phase 3 team, and has been like this for a long time, even with all the cycles resulted from the lead players’ rise and decline. Our progress is being measured in jumps from the 4th to 3rd, or from 3rd to 2nd (as hopefully will happen this season), but the amounts of effort and quality required are enormous. Very few teams in Europe, never mind EPL, are capable of reaching that kind of level.

    Now, it’s true that Leicester are likely to win the PL this year, and that will seem like a bigger progress than we achieved in more than a decade. I maintain the difference is actually how they behave from now on. Until now, they were acting from a position of little expectations, and any positive result seemed a big leap forward. The next season they will have to cope with the added pressure of keeping themselves to the newly-attained level, when the negative results start bearing a burden on the team. Hello, aaa. For the reasons outlined above, I find it more likely that they will fall and we keep position or take their place, than the other way around.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Hope you are right Truth.
    Certainly agree, it will all come crashing down, these things have a habit of doing just that. In the current climate with US authorities going for FIFA on anti racketeering laws, I am amazed they dare try anything, but it is clear the playing field is not as level as it should be.
    But if he is correct, yes, Wenger deserves the Utmost respect….and then some.
    He certainly has some very interesting things to say on Leicester, refs, the influence on illegal betting syndicates! PEDs…..and Scottish teams buying their way into the English …and Welsh league via lower league clubs.
    And why anyone would deny at least the possibility of such things going on in a game …..until recently headed by Sepp Blatter…and now, a guy close to match fixing issues in Greece and Turkey… beyond me

  • upp

    I think it goes without saying that nobody expects liecester to win the league next season. A good mid table finish at best. Please could we stop having posts trying to prove this point from now on? We are all already convinced about it

  • Pat

    upp are you a Leicester fan?

  • upp

    Any idea how you arrived at that thought?

  • goonergerry

    While agreed Leicester may be currently running on adrenaline and glory – If Leicester do hold on-it is not so much that they have won it- but we have lost it from being in a very winnable position. Let us recall who was in top spot at the end of the year.

    For a team sitting on top of the league, our run of poor form over 3 months this year so far has been far more extraordinary than Leicester’s consistency- a virtual collapse-being dumped out of 2 cups, dropping off in the league- the highlights being last week’s win at Everton and away draws at Liverpool, Stoke and Spurs. This poor form has let in both Leicester and Spurs.

    What your blog does not address is- ok without new players in key positions-playing the same way- given that we have not reached beyond round 2 in 6 seasons, with the same level of injuries (as occurs each season)- How can we be confident that we are going to do better than Leicester in the ECL- assuming that is that we do qualify?

    I am less concerned about Leicester’s capacity to adapt to the challenge of next season than I am of Arsenal -who still have to win sufficient games this year to get the chance to play in the ECL.