Everton survive, Leicester and Leeds relegated
The overview of the Premier League fight to stay up
Data is from FBRef unless stated otherwise
And so we have our three relegated sides.
I originally thought this would be a quick hit, but I went on for a while. What can I say. Congratulations to all three promoted teams for staying up this season, but it means we got some serious names go down on the final day. Let’s look at the two who got relegated and the one that survived.
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Leicester’s golden era is well and truly over, and it seems like the people inside the club were the last to realise.
The club’s hierarchy “never factored in a relegation battle at all”, Leicester writer Rob Tanner explained on The Athletic Football Podcast. “It’s in the annual accounts every year that the goal is to challenge for European football [each season]”. Leicester were completely focused on growing and competing at the top that they never considered things were about to go wrong.
I find this astonishing because the signs were there. I’ve said this a million times now, but let’s look at their xG difference per game over the last few seasons:
In 2018/19, Leicester sacked Claude Puel in late February sitting in 12th place, before hiring Brendan Rodgers to oversee an improvement up to ninth. The following year, things really got cooking, as Rodgers took them to fifth and a late stumble away from Champions League football. He improved performances as well, primarily by turbocharging the attack. Leicester added about a quarter of an xG per game on the attacking side. It pretty quickly regressed the following season, though this wasn’t noticed because of hot finishing streaks from Kelechi Iheanacho, Harvey Barnes and James Maddison. Leicester finished fifth again and won the FA Cup, so people were happy, but there should have been some questions behind the scenes about why the team were playing worse.
Then last season happened and Leicester really did fall apart, particularly on the defensive side. But again, some good finishing masked the results. An eighth-placed finish was a disappointment, but the underlyings were worse, and Leicester did well to finish in the top half. This went unnoticed by the hierarchy, who seemed to assume it was a down year that could be corrected. Rodgers should’ve been sacked for his track record of never finding the answers when it really goes wrong. Leicester did nothing because they thought themselves above that stage.
Leicester can act surprised all they want, but they should’ve seen the oncoming storm earlier and prepared for it.
Oh, where to start?
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