Premier League

Leicester City 2021-22 season review – star player, best moment, standout result

Sports Mole

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at Leicester City’s 2021-22 season, which saw them falter in the Premier League but reach a first European semi-final.

Following in the wake of their memorable FA Cup triumph and impressive Premier League campaign last year, the 2021-22 season has seen Leicester City take a step backwards, amid a series of injuries and destabilising defensive problems.

Despite coming close to the club’s first European final, a mid-table finish for the Foxes sees something of a rebuild in prospect over the coming months, as Brendan Rodgers reflects on a difficult year at the King Power Stadium.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at the key moments and main men of Leicester’s campaign.

SEASON OVERVIEW

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring their second goal on March 1, 2022© Reuters

Final league position: 8th

EFL Cup: Quarter-finals

FA Cup: Fourth Round

Europa Conference League: Semi-finals

Top scorer: Jamie Vardy (15)

Most assists: James Maddison (8)

Having been ranked between eighth and 14th throughout the entire campaign, Leicester’s league season has underwhelmed by comparison with their recent feats under the much-feted Brendan Rodgers.

Starting with a win over champions Manchester City in the Community Shield seemed to bode well, though, and an opening-day Premier League victory over Midlands rivals Wolves stirred dreams among Foxes fans that this would be the year their team returned to the Champions League.

However, three losses from their next four league games – plus the squandering of a two-goal lead to draw their Europa League opener at home to Napoli – put Rodgers and company on the back foot heading towards the end of September, when they then lost at Legia Warsaw.

Back-to-back wins over Manchester United and Spartak Moscow – featuring four goals apiece for the Foxes – were the highlight of a testing autumn period, before 2021 came to a spectacular end.

A gut-wrenching penalty shootout loss to Liverpool in the EFL Cup quarter-finals – after Leicester had held a 3-1 lead – was followed by a 6-3 drubbing at Manchester City. The calendar year concluded, though, with league victory over their cup conquerors at the King Power – one of just two top-flight defeats dealt out to Liverpool all season.

Leicester City's Marc Albrighton celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 10, 2022© Reuters

February’s 4-1 reverse at local rivals Nottingham Forest perhaps provided the nadir of an inconsistent campaign, and such a humbling end to their FA Cup defence summed up a sub-par month for the Foxes.

They did, however, recover from dropping out of the Europa League – having finished third in Group C – by beating Danish minnows Randers over two legs in Europe’s third-tier club competition: the newly established Conference League.

Three wins from four Premier League matches then built momentum, as they moved past Rennes into the quarter-finals, where they ultimately edged past PSV 2-1 on aggregate.

Taking just two points from their following five league matches even saw the once unassailable position of Rodgers called into question in some quarters, and Leicester dipped to 14th in the table – their lowest placing of the season.

After missing out on reaching the club’s first-ever European final – falling to semi-final defeat against Roma – they enjoyed an upswing in domestic fortunes, and having beaten two relegation-bound sides and held Chelsea to a draw, the Foxes signed off with a 4-1 home win over Southampton to claim eighth place in the table.

PREMIER LEAGUE STATS

Wins: 9 (14th)
Losses: 14 (11th)
Goals scored: 62 (5th)
Yellow cards: 55 (16th)
Red cards: 1 (17th)
Passes: 18,578 (7th)
Shots: 435 (15th)
Big chances missed: 37 (15th)
Saves: 135 (3rd)
Tackles: 690 (3rd)
Own goals: 1 (16th)
Hit woodwork: 9 (16th)
Clearances: 727 (12th)

HOW DID IT COMPARE TO LAST SEASON?

Leicester players celebrate winning the FA Cup in May 2021© Reuters

Though it was another season where Leicester slipped out of the Champions League places on the Premier League’s final day, the 2020-21 campaign still produced some indelible memories for the Foxes faithful, as the club finally claimed the FA Cup.

Totalling four more points than a year previously, Leicester also secured some notable results along the way to a fifth-placed finish, including a 5-2 victory at Manchester City and wins over Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United.

Much like this term, Brendan Rodgers found himself afflicted by a series of injury absences to integral members of his squad, but during the 2021-22 season, they have been comparatively brittle in defence – with the spectre of set-piece troubles so often rearing its ugly head.

While Leicester excelled in the FA Cup – unforgettably beating Chelsea in the final – last year’s continental campaign ended in the Europa League’s last 32, with a limp exit to Czech champions Slavia Prague.

This time around, the Foxes dropped out of the same competition at the group stage, but almost made the most of their shot at redemption – travelling all the way to the final four of the inaugural Europa Conference League. Beating Rennes and PSV on the way, Rodgers and company came up just short in the semis, where they were edged out by Roma.

Finishing up 14 points short of last year’s total – and three places lower – in the Premier League, Leicester have now slipped from their previous position in the pecking order.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON – JAMES MADDISON

Leicester City's James Maddison celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 1, 2022© Reuters

Emerging from a troubled start before blossoming later in the season, James Maddison has enjoyed another productive campaign for Leicester – topping the charts for both goals and assists in all competitions.

Surely now pushing for an England recall, the playmaker rose to the challenge of his manager, after Brendan Rodgers called on his most creative player to improve his work rate during the autumn.

Maddison responded by upping his game in that regard and then gradually re-finding his best form, demonstrating more maturity and taking on a new level of responsibility in the process.

An honorable mention must go to young Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, who has enjoyed a breakthrough season, and established himself as a first-choice selection in midfield amid tough competition.

STANDOUT RESULT

Leicester City's Luke Thomas in action with Liverpool's Sadio Mane in December 2021© Reuters

Short of fit and available players, plus time to prepare, Leicester welcomed Premier League title contenders Liverpool to the Midlands fresh from a 6-3 loss to Manchester City and without any of their regular centre-backs.

However, a dogged defensive display nullified Jurgen Klopp‘s side for 90 hard-fought minutes, and club captain Kasper Schmeichel pulled off a series of saves to help secure the Foxes’ finest result of the season.

Steering Leicester to an improbable victory over his former club – only six days after they had been knocked out of the EFL Cup on penalties by the same opponents – Brendan Rodgers got the better of his Liverpool successor Jurgen Klopp, as an inspired substitution led to Leicester’s 1-0 win.

Two minutes after sending Ademola Lookman on, the former Everton winger finished off a blistering counter-attack to send the home fans delirious, and by the final whistle, a team previously without a single point against a top-six side had seized all three; handing Liverpool just their second league defeat in nine months.

Click here for a full list of Leicester City’s results from the 2021-22 season

BEST MOMENT

Leicester City's Ricardo Pereira celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on February 13, 2022© Reuters

Sealing his club’s place in a first-ever European semi-final via a spectacular comeback win, Ricardo Pereira‘s dramatic 88th-minute winner in Eindhoven was a moment for the Leicester City history books – even if their Europa Conference League adventure did not ultimately run as far as the final in Tirana.

The Foxes had fallen behind in their quarter-final tie when Read more – Sports Mole

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