From Champions in 2016 and being hailed as one of football’s greatest, most unlikely success stories, there has been quite a turnaround at Leicester City this year.
They are now struggling to stay afloat, just above the Premier League relegation zone with Claudio Ranieri’s men running out of time to turn their season around.
At the heart of Leicester’s woes is one very simple thing; goals.
The majority of their success last season was built around Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez but they have struggled to live up to those performances.
And this stat from our friends at WhoScored.com sums up their inability to find the back of the net, which is a marked change from last season.
Leicester: Are the only team in England's top 6 tiers of football not to have scored a league goal in 2017 #lcfc— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 12, 2017
As you can see, Leicester are the only team in England’s top-six tiers of football, not to have scored a league goal in 2017.
The Premier League weekend saw Manchester United extend their unbeaten run while Chelsea were held at Burnley.
Here, we look at five things we learned.
JOSE MOURINHO STILL DEFINED BY DEFENCE
Jose Mourinho loves to tell everyone how he’s an attacking manager these days but the reality is United’s improvements have been founded on defensive organisation.
They have statistically the second-best defence in the league, David De Gea’s 10 clean sheets trail only Thibaut Courtois and Eric Bailly’s return to the side has given them extra ballast. United are, once again, tough to beat.
Eric Bailly's game by numbers vs. Watford:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 11, 2017
100% aerial duels won
5 tackles won
2 take-ons completed
Rock solid pic.twitter.com/usUMk6JTte
CAN GABBIADINI KEEP IT UP?
Southampton’s scouting department is a thing of wonder and it appears they’ve hit upon another relative bargain with Manolo Gabbiadini who has three goals in his first two games for the club. In Premier League terms, £15m for a striker is nothing.
That said, his career has been punctuated by inconsistency and he’s never been a regular goalscorer. The real test now is if the 25-year-old can string together a sustained run of form.
COSTA MAY BE PLAYING FOR TIME
Since his return to the Chelsea team against Hull on January 23, Diego Costa has scored one goal in 371 minutes and taken just four shots on target. He was successfully shackled by Michael Keane on Sunday and is missing all of his early-season spark and menace.
A player of his quality can only go so long before he kicks back into gear but if this run continues, the suspicion he is seeing out time before securing a summer switch away, only grows in credibility.
Diego Costa: Is currently on his longest goal drought this season, failing to score in his last 284 mins of action for Chelsea #BURCHE— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 12, 2017
GARETH MCAULEY IS A PREMIER LEAGUE TREASURE
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the Premier League’s marquee golden oldie this season but, at 37, West Brom defender
Gareth McAuley is two years older than the Swede and is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career.
The Northern Ireland centre-back scored his fifth goal of the season against West Ham on Saturday – his most in six top-flight campaigns – and is one of only five outfield players who haven’t missed a single minute this term.
Damn, 37-year-old Gareth McAuley has more PL goals (5) than De Bruyne (4), Pogba (4), Toure (4), Mahrez (3) and Mkhitaryan (3). He's 37!! pic.twitter.com/TTb1Q1ACkO— ReviewFootball (@ReviewFootball) February 11, 2017
CRYSTAL PALACE JUST CAN’T SCORE
Crystal Palace are in a real pickle, sliding towards the foot of the table. What must be immediately concerning is that, despite Sam Allardyce’s style theoretically being able to get the best out of Christian Benteke, the Belgian has just one league goal in his eight matches under the former England boss.
Palace, overall, with Allardyce at the helm average 0.5 goals per game. Relegation form.
When Antonio Conte took charge of Chelsea at the start of the season, Cesc Fabregas couldn’t break into the starting eleven.
Even a switch to three at the back didn’t open the door for the former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder with N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic playing in the middle.
Comparisons to Juan Mata’s treatment at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho were quickly drawn. The now Manchester United duo have begun working in harmony in their new surroundings, despite Mata rarely afforded starts, quite similar to the Conte-Fabregas dynamic in west London.
When the Spaniard was finally given his chance, he regularly impressed with his playmaking, providing assist after assist and while he still hasn’t managed to establish himself in the first team, Conte has bestowed upon him the highest compliment he could offer a midfielder.
The Italian has branded Fabregas a genius and claims he can be Chelsea’s Andrea Pirlo who was Conte’s midfield linchpin for Juventus and Italy.
“Cesc is a top player and is a genius at football. I can talk in the same way about Andrea Pirlo,” Conte said. “If he doesn’t run 100 metres in 10 seconds, I can allow him this, because he’s a genius with the ball. His velocity is in his mind.”
There’s certainly plenty Fabregas has to offer and Conte recognises that but will he ever be able to do enough to displace either Kante or Matic?