Mon, Dec 16, 2019

We’re past the first-third of the Premier League season and we’ve been gifted with plenty of improbable storylines, none bigger than Leicester City’s rapid rise back to the top four of the table. The Foxes have been absolutely incredible and look like the 2016 team when it comes to that dominance and confidence that caught the world by storm. 

With Brendan Rodgers in charge, prognosticators didn’t envision this team to sniff the top six, which is obviously a hard task for teams not named Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham. 

It didn’t help matters when the club sold star defender Harry Maguire to Manchester United. Turns out that transaction has been one of the keys to this team’s resurgence, boasting the best defense in the league despite losing its perceived best defender. The Foxes have conceded just nine goals in 14 games, and its replacement is a big reason why. 

Little did those on the outside know that Leicester didn’t need to invest in a new star defender this season because they had one waiting in the wings who is on the verge of stardom. Turkish central defender Caglar Soyuncu joined the Foxes just before last season from SC Freiburg and played only eight games last season in all competitions, but he slid into the starting XI this season and has been absolutely fantastic. 

Great in the air and patient in defense, the 23-year-old does a sensational job of keeping his attacker in front of him and forcing him to take a shot that isn’t the ideal one. He fits Leicester’s style of play perfectly by enjoying possession, playing with flair and offering an attractive style of soccer. 

One could argue that he’s been better than Maguire so far this season, and that’s great news for Leicester in a season where it has realistic dreams of winning a trophy. Nobody should be surprised with the reports in England already linking Soyuncu with Manchester City. If his fine performances continue, his price will continue to sky-rocket. 

Take a look at his numbers compared to Maguire:

Player Blocks Tackles Interceptions

Caglar Soyuncu, Leicester City

9

28

20

Harry Maguire, Manchester United

6

8

22

Keep in mind Maguire has had more to do defensively with United’s poor possession and defensive ability in the middle, meaning Soyuncu has had less overall defending to do but has been much more efficient. Soyuncu has a monster defensive midfielder in front of him in Wilfred Ndidi and is still putting on a masterclass defensively, making Foxes fans forget about Maguire’s departure just before the season. 

Soyuncu is a big reason why Leicester continues to rise in the table and in our power rankings. 

1. Liverpool (–): They always seem to find a way, but can they weather the storm without Fabinho? Don’t look now, but this may be the season the Reds win the Premier League for the first time in the modern era. They must remain focused, especially with City slipping.

2. Leicester City (+1): Find a coach who has done a better job with less than Brendan Rodgers. Don’t be shocked if Arsenal goes reaches out to him after firing Unai Emery. He’s got the Foxes feeling like it’s 2016 all over again with a simply dominant defense.

3. Manchester City (-1): This team is letting points surprisingly slip, but it can fall 15 points back and still have a chance. We all know this team can string together a 10 consecutive wins at some point during the season and push Liverpool to the brink. 

4. Chelsea (–): Back-to-back Premier League defeats but still six points clear in the top four, which goes to show just how good this team has been. With a young squad and nearing a spot in the Champions League round of 16, Frank Lampard has done quite the job so far. 

5. Tottenham (+9): Jose Mourinho is 3-0-0 since returning in all competitions and has won both of the Premier League contests he’s coached with Spurs. Next, revenge against Manchester United as the club continues to improve.

6. Sheffield United (-1): One of the best defenses in the league, Sheffield United has gone five unbeaten and is only a point back of the top six. For a team expected to be in relegation contention, they are currently seven points clear. 

7. Wolves (+2): Nuno Espirito Santo deserves a ton of credit for what he’s done, especially after a really ugly start to the season. Nine unbeaten has them in the top six and hitting their stride. 

8. Arsenal (-2): The Gunners haven’t won a Premier League game in nearly two months, and they should consider themselves lucky to still be only in eighth place. That defense has to be address come January, or they won’t even sniff the top six.

9. Burnley (+7)