Following their surprise relegation from the Premier League, Leicester were very much fancied to bounce straight back. At the start of the 2023/24 Championship season, the Foxes stood as the bookies’ 3/1 favourite to lift the league title. While it is no shock to see the Midlands outfit top at the moment, it is still perhaps a surprise just how good they have been.
Many fans would have been expecting some adjustment period given the change of manager plus the loss of several senior players, such as James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Timothy Castagne. Despite this, the Foxes hit the ground running and have not looked back. Not only are they the odds-on favourites for the title, but many fans will be wondering if they can also set a new Championship points total.
What Is the Current Championship Points Record?
On six occasions a club in the English second tier has managed to reach the 100-point mark. It is an achievement that represents such long-term consistency, as to reach a three-figure tally you cannot afford too many off days during the long Championship season. Leicester are one of the teams to have managed this feat, doing so when they last secured promotion back to the Premier League. They do not hold the overall record though, with this going to Reading and the 106 points they amassed during the 2005/06 season. The Royals also ended up with a massive +67 goal difference, which also highlights their superiority that term.
Championship Clubs to Record 100+ Points in a Season
Leicester will need to reach 107 points if they are to become the new outright Championship record holders. Let us take a look at how realistic this is based on their results so far.
How Many Points Are Leicester on Course to Get?
We write this article after Leicester’s 1-1 stalemate with Ipswich on Boxing Day. Following this game, Leicester retained their six-point gap at the top of the table with 59 points from 24 games played (W19, D2, L3). A total of 59 points from 24 matches works out at 2.46 points per game (PPG). If we were to use this PPG figure and apply it to the full 46-game season, Leicester would end up with a hugely impressive 113 points. Based on this it seems perfectly realistic that Leicester may better the 106 points set by current record-holders Reading.
At this juncture, the question that needs asking is whether Leicester can sustain or even improve their current PPG figure. It would be wrong to assume that just because Leicester have performed a certain way during the first half of the campaign there will be no significant change during the second half. Changes can happen for multiple reasons, such as those we will highlight in the next section.
Can Leicester Maintain Their Current Pace?
For the East Midlands side to set a new Championship points total they do not have to be quite as strong as they were in the first half of the campaign, but they cannot suffer a big dip. Leicester’s current PPG is 2.46 and to reach a tally of 107 points they would need a PPG of 2.18 for the rest of the season. There is a fair amount of breathing space here but it is something the Foxes may well need as the Championship season is a long and taxing one.
After 24 matches in their Championship-winning campaign of 05/06, Reading’s points tally of 59 is exactly what Leicester find themselves on at the same stage in the campaign. The Royals’ PPG did drop over the remaining 22 matches, going down to 2.14 which is why they ended up on 106 points rather than 113.
It is not always the case that title winners tail off during the latter half of the season though. Newcastle in 2009/10 for example collected 42 from the last possible 48 points thanks to ending the season with 13 wins and 3 draws. In 1998/99, neighbours Sunderland finished with an identical record to this too, showing that continued improvements are possible as the season goes on.
Will Leicester be one of these teams that finds a new level in the final few months of the season or will they struggle to maintain their lofty standards? Let us take a look at both sides of the argument.
Yes, Leicester Will Set a Championship Points Record
Optimistic Foxes’ supporters have some reason to believe their side are destined to top Reading’s record set over 15 years ago. For one, they are much wealthier than most teams in the division courtesy of the Premier League parachute payments. This will enable them to strengthen much more than most during the January transfer window if they want to. Rumours have already been flying around as to who the Foxes may buy and it seems there will be at least some activity in the market.
Although there is no guarantee any January signing will quickly become a valuable member of the squad, any quick-settlers will help Leicester maintain their current dominance. In addition to this, Leicester currently do not have many injuries. Callum Doyle recently returned from a three-month absence while Jamie Vardy, Kasey McAteer, and Marc Albrighton are all expected back relatively soon. With this the full extent of Leicester’s injuries, Enzo Maresca is enjoying a healthier squad than most teams in the Championship.
Lastly, Leicester’s style of play may help them cope with some of the rigours faced by the taxing 46-game Championship slog. It is a well-established fact that teams with a high amount of possession cover less distance than those with medium/low amounts. Leicester’s current possession percentage of 64.6% is the second highest in the division, and comfortably above third place Sunderland (58.5%). This should help limit the amount of fatigue in the squad come the latter stages of the season.
No, Leicester Will Not Set a Championship Points Record
The argument for thinking Leicester will fall just short of 107 points is almost as convincing as the one backing them for it. For one, they may lose up to four players due to the Africa Cup of Nations. Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Patson Daka and Abdul Fatawu could all be called up to represent their national team. Should their respective nations end up going far in the tournament, each player could miss as many as six Championship matches. As a result, it would not be a great surprise if the Foxes drop a few points in January.
Another factor to consider is that of Leicester’s 19 wins so far this season, 10 have been by just a one-goal margin. Comparatively, from Reading’s first 19 wins in 2005/06, only seven were won by one goal. History suggests Leicester do not quite have the strength at either end of the pitch that is required for a record-breaking season. Even if things continue as they are, the Foxes are set to finish on 92 goals scored and 33 goals conceded (+59 goal difference). This goal difference would be lower than those seen during both Reading and Sunderland’s triple-digit seasons.