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Premier League champions Leicester City edge closer to drop

It was only nine months ago Andrea Bocelli stood in the middle of the King Power Stadium, belting out the classics next to a teary Claudio Ranieri in one of the Premier League's most surreal scenes.
Leicester City, somewhat fortunate to still be in the top division and operating with far fewer resources than the usual title-chasing suspects could boast, had won the league. It was a captivating story, perhaps the greatest in a year of double-take sports moments.
Nobody expected Leicester to do it again this season, but nobody expected them to be relegated either. After 25 games and in the middle of February, that is what the Foxes are faced with.
The most recent 2-0 loss to fellow drop-zone flirters Swansea has the Foxes only one point shy of the bottom three and in free-fall. But how did Leicester City fall from grace so hard and so quickly?

The loss of a midfield general

Leicester was relieved to get out last year's summer transfer window without losing too many stars of the title triumph. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez remained, but there was still to be one notable loss.
N'Golo Kante moved on to Chelsea for a significant, but not nearly Pogba-esque fee. Many considered him to have been the best player of the 2015/16 season, and there was concern his absence would be a difficult one for Leicester to handle.
Turns out, losing Kante was an even bigger deal than we thought at the time. While the Frenchman has continued being incredible, and is currently on his way to picking up his second winner's medal in as many years, Leicester has completely fallen to bits without his protective presence in the midfield.
Kante is the best tackler and intercepter in the Premier League. He makes poor defenders look good by ensuring the play doesn't even get to them, and he can make life easy for attackers by constantly supplying them the ball in advanced positions.
It's an easy answer, but a correct one — no Kante, no Leicester.

Weary defenders crumble under exposure

The by-product of the Kante-shaped hole in midfield has been more responsibility on aging defenders Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. Before last season, few would have considered them to be league-leading centre halves, but they certainly looked the part as Leicester shut teams out en route to the title.
So were Morgan and Huth actually incredible centre backs? Or was our gut right, and they were merely bulky veterans at the heart of a thriving system and a team on a roll?


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