As the time of writing, Leicester have made a fantastic start to the 2023/24 campaign having won their first three Championship matches against Cardiff, Huddersfield and Coventry. They’ve also won their match in the opening round of the League Cup. Although it is very early days, the positive start will already have Leicester fans thinking about an immediate return to the Premier League.
In this article, we’ll take a look back at the three seasons in recent years when the Foxes won their division: 2008/09 when they won League One, 2013/14 when they won the Championship, and – of course – 2015/16 when they won the Premier League. Specifically, we’ll look at how they started those campaigns and see if it will give Leicester fans hope their side can bounce straight back to the top flight this time around.
2008/09 – League One Champions, 96 points
- Pre-Season Games – Won 4, Drew 3, Lost 3
- First 10 League Games – Won 7, Drew 2, Lost 1
Although Leicester’s pre-season didn’t go perfectly to plan, the side hit the ground running when the league campaign began. Okay, it might be only the third tier, but Leicester’s League One-winning season in 2008/09 could be viewed as the starting point of the great things to follow. In a sense, it gave the club that taste for winning again – it was the first time they’d won a division since taking the Second Division title way back in 1979/80.
The Foxes only lost four matches all season and just one in their opening 10 games. They ended up seven points clear at the top ahead of Peterborough United. With seven victories in their first nine league matches, Leicester clearly gave themselves a fine springboard from which to mount their push for the title. It was the impressive haul of 27 goals scored by Matty Fryatt that made the big difference, with Steve Howard and Lloyd Dyer each making it to double figures.
2013/14 – Championship Champions, 102 points
- Pre-Season Games – Won 3, Drew 2, Lost 3
- First 10 League Games – Won 7, Drew 2, Lost 1
After a hit-and-miss pre-season, Leicester knew they needed to get off to a decent start in the Championship if they were to gain promotion to the Premier League. They managed exactly that, winning three and drawing the other of their first four league matches against very tough opposition, in the shape of Middlesbrough, Leeds United (with whom they drew), Derby County and Birmingham City. They went down in the next match 2-1 to Charlton but then won four and drew one of the next five to put themselves in a decent early position in the division.
David Nugent was the top scorer with 20 league goals, while Jamie Vardy added another 16 to help Leicester to a very impressive total of 102 points. Three of the Foxes’ players were selected for the PFA Championship Team of the Year (Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan and Danny Drinkwater) while boss Nigel Pearson was picked as the LMA Championship Manager of the Year.
2015/16 – Premier League Champions, 81 points
- Pre-Season Games – Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 0
- First 10 League Games – Won 5, Drew 4, Lost 1
Leicester were unbeaten in pre-season and high on confidence coming into the season, having ended the campaign prior so strongly, but few people could have possibly foreseen what would transpire as the Foxes stormed to the Premier League title. But looking back to the final weeks of the 2014/15 season should have at least given some clues that Leicester could do well: they won seven and drew two of their final 10 league matches of the season. Though many of those games were against sides that wouldn’t be considered the biggest in the division, that run clearly allowed the players to gain belief ahead of the new campaign.
Interestingly, unlike the two aforementioned seasons when the Foxes won seven of their opening 10 league matches, in the 2015/16 campaign, they only won five of their first 10. Crucially though they were not getting beaten very often. In fact they lost only three games all season, two against Arsenal and one against Liverpool at Anfield.
Jamie Vardy was on fire during the title-winning campaign, banging in 24 league goals. Riyad Mahrez added another 17, and – crucially – they didn’t concede many, with N’Golo Kanté and Danny Drinkwater offering excellent protection in front of the defence. Leicester ended up winning the Premier League by a clear 10 points ahead of the side that beat them twice, Arsenal, with Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United the next nearest challengers.
Early Days But Looking Good for Leicester
Leicester have had a good start, but it is obviously very early days in what is sure to be a long and challenging season. That said, if the Foxes can continue their decent early form and get through their opening 10 matches having only lost once (like they had in each of their successful seasons mentioned above), we are confident they will go on to battle their way back into the Premier League.
Of course, even after having a good start, things can go pear-shaped for a football club. Untimely injuries to key personnel or simply a sustained period of bad luck can derail a season. Looking back to the 2000/01 season, for instance, when the Foxes got off to a decent start to their Premier League campaign and even found themselves sitting pretty at the top of the table after eight games without defeat. But then an appalling last few weeks of the campaign saw them lose nine of their final 10 league matches and they slipped from fourth position right down to 13th!
Leicester City have learned a hell of a lot since then, of course, and – if they can put in a few more positive results – we think they will put themselves in a great position to get back where they belong: the Premier League.