The Nigeria striker believes that the Foxes can achieve their goals this season, but it will be more difficult than ever in the upcoming campaign
Without a doubt, last season was bittersweet for Leicester City. There was this fantastic FA Cup victory – a first in the club’s history – but the season ultimately ended on a bad note on the final day of the Premier League.
In the first half of the 38th week, the Foxes were ready for their second-ever Champions League trip, but a second-half collapse against Tottenham Hotspur at King Power Stadium left them forced to lick their wounds for the second season in a row.
While direct schadenfreude was particularly excessive, it was dismissively devoid of any context.
Admittedly, the back-to-back losing streak on the final day of the Champions League had to provoke a furore, and Brendan Rodgers’ side were already weighing in and running empty in both campaigns.
Kelechi Iheanacho somewhat exemplified the Foxes’ over-achievement at 20/21, particularly in the second half of the season when Jamie Vardy’s scoring numbers waned, James Madison missed large parts of the tour and Harvey Barnes was absent through injury.
The Nigeria striker’s rise to prominence allowed the East Midlands team to stay in the race for as long as they did, but it wasn’t enough in the end.
Iheanacho has scored an impressive 11 league goals in his last 12 games and has also played a huge role in his run to the FA Cup Final since 1968.
Despite the arrival of Batson Dhaka, the striker is still happy to be back in pre-season, looking forward to next season and believing his side will not falter this time around.
“Obviously I scored goals last season. I think, this season, we really need to put in more effort and focus on our games,” Iheanacho told the club’s official website on Monday. “I have a good feeling that this season, he might fall for us and we’ll get what we want.
“As I said before, we need to focus and focus on matches, one by one, and hopefully we can get there eventually,” Iheanacho added. “I pray for more goals, but more importantly, more wins and more points.”
It goes without saying that what Leicester desires is to return to the Champions League. It will only be their second appearance among Europe’s elite, yet there is admiration for how the club has managed and their concerted effort to sink the top six.
In that sense, it makes next season a hit or a break for the Foxes because finishing in the top four at 21/22 will be doubly difficult than it was in previous campaigns…in theory at least.
Manchester clubs are the two favorites in the Champions League, given City’s dominance of the league and the club’s continued participation under Pep’s leadership, and United’s ambition in the transfer market so far.
European champions Chelsea, although with no investment in transfers so far, will make finishing the league in the top four the absolute minimum target for this season, while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are not expected to be as bad as they were in results until the last stages. Last season.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are back from long-term injuries, while Trent Alexander-Arnold is back in training after missing Euro 2020. Sadio Mane, who has been horribly under-performed for the first time in years, is expected to fall back. Best and Mohamed Salah is promising a torrent of goals, good performance or otherwise.
Arsenal should not be discounted either.
Mikel Arteta’s men have quietly added to their squad in the summer – Albert Sambi Lukonga and Nuno Tavares have included so far, Benn is expected to follow while Brighton & Hove Albion’s player is expected to follow – and the north London side’s European absence at 21/22 means they can throw all the Thing. They entered the top four for the first time since 2015/2016.
The Africa Cup of Nations match is expected to take place between January and February and could dampen Leicester’s prospects. Having to dispense with Wilfried Ndidi, Ihanacho and Dhaka on the impressive month-long show could be detrimental and it will be interesting to see how Rodgers navigates that period amidst the busy English football calendar.
Given the difficulty of creating a cross-league soccer league, you feel the European League could offer more value to Rodgers and his forces. The winner gets automatic status in the elite European Championship, and Villarreal is the last recipient of the incentive.
A Yellow Submarine win over Manchester United in May would see Unai Emery’s side return to the competition for the first time since 2011/12, a prospect Rodgers may explore if qualification for the league looks frayed.
Undoubtedly, the former Liverpool boss will ask Vardy to return to his form, Iheanacho largely continues his brilliant career and Dhaka adapts quickly to score goals, while Ndidi’s husband and Yuri Tillman need to thrive again in midfield, with the first hope. Stay fit for the majority of the campaign.
Despite Iheanacho’s rise, the Nigerian has to realize the challenge ahead. Indeed, securing a place in the Champions League no matter which teams they compete with would be arguably Leicester’s greatest achievement since that memorable victory in 2017.