Leicester’s form turnaround ironically coincides with veteran’s absence

Jonny Evans of Leicester City (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
Jonny Evans of Leicester City (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images) /
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Leicester City
Jonny Evans of Leicester City (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images) /

Leicester City have seen an uptick in their prospects in recent fixtures, which coincidentally matches the absence of Jonny Evans. Let us explore why.

The King Power club find themselves 14th in the Premier League after 14 games played on 14 points. Their form has improved immeasurably from the abyssal depths it was found within in prior fixtures: when looking at the last five games, the Foxes are fifth in the form table.

Clearly, something has changed. Be that Brendan Rodgers’ tactics or something more superficial. Interestingly, the start of the uptick – arguably – was the Crystal Palace 0-0. Although not spectacular, the following results were three wins and an agonising 0-1 loss to Manchester City. In all these matches, veteran Evans was absent.

Leicester City: What the stats show!

As is the usual, it is easy to state some eye test reasoning, but let us delve into a few facets of information to understand this revival story a little more objectively. For this, I will collate from FB Ref.

In the nine games prior to Evans’ absence, Leicester attained 1.12 xG per game and conceded an average of 1.63 xGA per game. This does not tell the whole story: the Foxes performed well in terms of possession retention; however, particular games saw much higher xGA and – specifically – more goals conceded than would have been expected.

In the games since, we have seen 1.14 in xG per game and 1.2 in xGA per game. Again, this does not inform the whole story: possession actually dropped significantly, and particular games saw significantly higher xGA while not conceding all those expected goals.

It might be a little presumptuous, but after Evans’ withdrawal, we saw lower possession, lower xGA, and no detrimental effects to chance creation. In short, we continued to create more chances while actually improving slightly in defence.

It is obviously far too easy to single out one individual change in the side. Next then, we shall look into what has actually changed.