It’s week two already! Let’s put week one out of our minds and focus on Arsenal’s next opponent, your 2015/16 Premier League Champions Leicester City! We talked with Shane Evans of SBN’s Leicester City blog, Fosse Posse, about last season’s fun, this season’s expectations, and Saturday’s match. My answers to his questions are right here. Away we go!
TSF: I will lead off with only one question about last year, then we will move on. At what point during last season did you think it was real, like "oh s**t this is actually happening"?
Fosse Posse: Last season. Wow. It still doesn’t feel real. Probably won’t for another five years or so…but I digress. Probably the moment that I felt like it could happen (and many Leicester fans) was the Man City match. Going up 3-0 against the richest team in England, at their home, was just incredible. Leicester ripped them up. Winning 3-1, I sat back and thought to myself how incredible that just was and how the club could actually do the impossible.
TSF: Losing N'Golo Kante was a blow, but that seems to my outsider eye to be the only major subtraction from last season's squad. Any other departures of note?
FP: Yes, that’s about it. As of now (knock on wood) no one else has departed that could really sway the balance of the team. Mark Schwarzer, the veteran backup keeper decided to hang up the boots after a fantastic career but he was quickly replaced with German World Cup winner Ron-Robert Zieler, the club’s first signing of the summer. The storyline for the offseason has been holding onto he squad that won the title and with Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Kasper Schmeichel and others now under long-term contracts, that goal has been achieved.
TSF: The converse of that: Any new signings that you're really excited about?
FP: As for new signings, there are a few that have got me giddy. First and foremost Ahmed Musa, the Nigerian striker formerly of CSKA Moscow. Making Vardy’s pace seem ordinary, the lightning fast forward already showed his willingness to score the tough goals…but with a touch of class as well. His pair against Barcelona in the International Champions Cup were something to behold and got me telling anyone who would listen to pay attention to him. Outside of Musa, Bartosz Kapustka, the young Polish winger who had himself a very productive Euros was a shrewd signing, as well as Nampalys Mendy, the like-for-like replacement for N’Golo Kante.
TSF: As a Timbers fan, I kind of have a "Won cup, don't care" attitude towards this season, in which the Timbers, shall we say, aren't defending their 2015 title with panache. What's the attitude of the Leicester fanbase towards this season - is last season a repeatable skill, or is any title challenge this year just a bonus?
FP: I think it’s a bit of both here. Leicester fans would love to be in the title hunt this year and have every reason to believe it’s possible. At the same time, last year was just such a massive shock that, as I just stated, it still…still hasn’t sunk in. I’m going to be telling my grandkids about it. Things may never be that good again, and honestly, that’s perfectly fine.
TSF: It's foolhardy to draw conclusions based on one game, but was there anything you saw in last week's loss to Hull that concerned you, or was it just one of those games?
FP: One of Leicester’s biggest strengths last season was how little the lineup changed. Using the fewest players of any team in the Premier League, the Foxes won the title due to consistency. That was part of the reason, anyway. So when the team fielded a host of new faces against Hull, things looked a little disjointed. With Arsenal the second match of the season, the club could realistically start with two losses (it only had three all last season). But to get right to it, I’m not concerned no. Claudio Ranieri is too good of a manager and the players are such a strong unit that they’ll bounce back and be fine. Or get relegated, who knows.
TSF: Fill in the blank: "If Arsenal want to beat Leicester on Saturday, they must (blank)"
FP: If Arsenal want to beat Leicester on Saturday, they must contain a now focused Riyad Mahrez. Leicester’s magic man, who has been linked with the Gunners, recently signed a new contract with Leicester allowing him to put all his brain power into shredding defenses on the pitch. Couple that with a determined Jamie Vardy, Arsenal may have their hands full.
Thanks to Shane and Fosse Posse for taking the time!