Having taken 39 points from their first 14 matches, we’ve priced up Leicester at 2/1 to break Reading’s 106-point haul from 2005/06.
There was Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves, and Vincent Kompany’s Burnley – not to mention several other phenomenal Championship sides – yet none have managed to surpass Steve Coppell’s Royals.
They say the league table never lies but it most certainly did last season. Leicester’s xGD – a good measure of how a side performed over a season – had them 13th – above 10th-place Fulham.
Nevertheless, the Foxes were relegated, and it always creates huge uncertainty at a club and there’s never a guarantee that a side will return at the first time of asking.
But there’s little discernible difference between the side who went down and the one looking to bounce straight back up.
James Maddison, Youri Tielemans, Caglar Soyuncu, Jonny Evans and Harvey Barnes all departed, but Harry Winks and Conor Coady have added more Premier League quality, while the likes of James Justin, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Ricardo Pereira, Wilfried Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho could all be playing in the top flight.
bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “Ipswich are admirably hanging on to their coat tails, but it would be a huge surprise if the Foxes didn’t make an instant return to the Premier League after a flying start.
“Burnley flirted with surpassing the record tally of 106 last season before dropping points after securing promotion, but worryingly for the rest of the division, there is a danger that Leicester have only just got going under Enzo Maresca and the Foxes have the scope to get even better.”
Relegated teams often change their managers, creating more uncertainty, but Enzo Maresca has been an inspired appointment. The Italian’s only senior managerial experience came in a doomed 14-match spell with Parma, but Maresca returned to Manchester City, where he’d previously served as manager of the Elite Development Squad, to work directly under Pep Guardiola.
Though Maresca will be keen to avoid the obvious comparisons between his style and Guardiola’s, similarities can be found.
Maresca wants Leicester to play out from the back to help dominate possession, with the Foxes seeing the majority of the ball in every game bar the 4-1 demolition of Southampton.
While much of their squad last season – and this – was of a Premier League standard, the goalkeeper was clearly an area for improvement, with summer signing Mads Hermansen allowing Maresca to better implement his philosophy. The Italian likes to use inverted full-backs, and ensures his defensive structure remains solid in possession to avoid being hit on the break.
So far this season, Leicester have conceded just seven goals in 13 games and are yet to concede more than once in a game. They’ve also scored two or more in nine games and quite simply look to have far too much for the rest of the division.
There are no guarantees in football, but it’s extremely hard to see how Leicester don’t get promoted (1/14).
From there, Reading’s record must be in their sights.