Leicester go the extra mile after Ranieri departure

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Leicester City's players may have vehemently denied they had stopped trying for Claudio Ranieri, but the statistics from their 3-1 victory over Liverpool do little to back up their case.

Ranieri was sacked by Leicester last week only nine months after lifting the Premier League trophy, with speculation rife player-power contributed to the Italian's downfall.

The Foxes' decision to appoint Ranieri ahead of last season was derided by some, but he confounded all his critics to lead Leicester to the title - a fairy-tale success unrivalled in the Premier League.

However, 2016-17 has been a return to the days of fighting relegation that have been more common with Leicester's previous top-flight appearances.

So bad was their form that Ranieri was dismissed despite holding an iconic place in the club's history.

The players, including Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel, rejected claims they had lost faith in the 65-year-old and discussed it with the club's Thai owners prior to his sacking.

Their performance against Liverpool will not have helped their case, though, as their hunger, desire and quality all returned as they lifted themselves out of the bottom three.

With the help of Opta data, we examine the difference between Leicester's performances under Ranieri and their first since the Italian departed.

 

ENERGY LEVELS RESTORED

One of the criticisms thrown at the Foxes players in the 25 matches under Ranieri this season was that their determination and intensity were lacking. They were not working as hard for the team as they were in 2015-16, and the stats backed that up.

Last season the would-be champions ran 68.41 miles, made 22.87 tackles and won 62 duels in an average 90 minutes.

However, in the opening 25 games of this term those figures were down. They only covered 67.61m, completed 16.16 challenges and came out on top in 51.92 battles per match.

With Ranieri out of the equation against Liverpool, Leicester ran 73.14m, made 31 tackles and were successful in 80 duels.

GETTING BACK TO BASICS

Not only were Leicester back to their hard-working best, they were once again playing to the strengths that saw them soar to success last term. Counter-attack was the name of the game as Ranieri masterminded their triumph and that was in evidence as Liverpool struggled to cope.

In 2015-16 Leicester only averaged 42.43 per cent of possession per game, instead opting to use their pace and long-passing ability to catch teams off guard. It appeared teams had got wise to that this season....until Liverpool visited the King Power Stadium.

Vardy's goal came from a drilled pass from Marc Albrighton, and the match-sealing third followed a brisk break from the striker and Riyad Mahrez.

Against Liverpool the Foxes made 547 sprints and had 13 shots, much higher than their average so far this season which stood at 499.6 and 10.88 respectively.

Meanwhile, confidence returned to their passing range. Against the Reds 27.4 per cent of their distribution was over long distance to use the speed of Vardy and Mahrez, yet another improvement.

PROVIDING AN ATTACKING THREAT

Goals have been hard to come by for the Foxes in the current campaign with only 24 in 25 top-flight matches prior to Monday night's win.

Naturally that has played a huge part in their slump, with an average of just 10 shots per game just under three less than when they were shock champions.

They were back up to their title-winning mark against Jurgen Klopp's side with 13 efforts, though, and they reaped the rewards with Vardy netting a double and Danny Drinkwater arrowing home a sublime volley from distance.

Their efficiency also improved, with seven shots on target versus Liverpool far outstripping their prior average of 3.24 under Ranieri this season.