Why Leicester won't finish in the Premier League top four

After looking so good for most of the campaign, Leicester City's season is fraying around the edges.

Since returning from the international break, Brendan Rodgers' side have fallen to damaging defeats against Manchester City and West Ham, while also being embroiled in an off-field scandal.

The feeling of deja vu following last season's horrific implosion is getting harder to ignore and while nothing is set is stone yet, the Foxes face an uphill battle to stop their season unravelling. Here is why Leicester will find it so difficult to finish in the Premier League top four this season.

1. Resurgent rivals

Chelsea are hitting their stride at the worst possible time from a Foxes' perspective | Pool/Getty Images

With only a handful of games left to play, several of the Premier League's big hitters are starting to pull themselves together.

Ever since Thomas Tuchel has taken over at Chelsea the Blues have been transformed, with a recent defeat to West Brom one of the only blots on the German's copy book.

Things are not perfect at Anfield but Liverpool have still managed to string three Premier League victories together and, barring a miracle in their second leg against Real Madrid, they will not have any Champions League commitments to distract them.

West Ham are also looking like serious contenders, playing Leicester off the park for most of the pair's meeting on Sunday. All of this does not bode well for the out of sorts Foxes heading into the home stretch.

2. Dressing room disharmony

Maddison is among the players disciplined for breaking Covid regulations | Pool/Getty Images

What was going through Ayoze Perez's mind when he decided to have James Maddison, Hamza Choudhury, Wes Morgan and Harvey Barnes round his house on the eve of Leicester's two biggest games of the season is a complete mystery.

Ever the disciplinarian - who can forget those envelopes at Liverpool - Brendan Rodgers took the bold step of removing the offenders from the matchday squad against West Ham on Sunday.

However, the ramifications of the fivesome's bizarre actions could continue to be felt for the rest of the season. According to the Athletic, their teammates are - quite understandably - fuming at their behaviour.

Rodgers has done a superb job of managing the dressing room since his arrival, something his predecessors struggled with, and his man-management skills will be seriously tested over the coming weeks.

3. Star man out of form

Vardy is struggling for goals | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

After an explosive start to their season, there were genuine hopes that Jamie Vardy might become the first player to retain the Premier League Golden Boot since Harry Kane.

Since Christmas though, Vardy has been plagued by a hernia problem. He underwent surgery in January but he is still not at 100%. Either that, or his powers may finally be waning. Whatever is happening the fact is that Vardy has scored just once in his last 14 Premier League games.

The lack of goals is not his only problem either. He also seems to have lost a yard of pace - terrible news for a player who relies on running in behind. As a result Vardy has been reduced to a spectator in some games, registering less than 17 touches against Chelsea, Arsenal and Burnley recently.

His finishing has suffered as well and although he has always been a player who scores in streaks, time is running out for him to get on a good run.

4. Tricky run-in

Leicester still have to play Manchester United and several other big hitters | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

For the second season in a row Leicester have been handed a tricky run-in. Last time out they closed the campaign with games against Tottenham and Manchester United, both of which they lost.

This season they face United and Spurs again, with a trip to Stamford Bridge sandwiched in-between. Compared to the vast majority of the other sides vying for Champions League qualification, this is an extremely challenging run-in.

Recent defeats to City, Arsenal and West Ham also suggest that the Foxes' knack for beating the Premier League big boys may be running out.

5. Potential distractions

Leicester City beat Manchester United to reach the FA Cup semi-final | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Without wanting to tempt fate, the distraction of an FA Cup final could also harm Leicester's top four prospect.

Despite being out of form, their semi-final opponents Southampton recently lost 3-0 to West Brom - the second worst team in the Premier League.

This makes the Foxes favourites going into Sunday's meeting and if they do reach the final it is only natural that they may take their foot of the gas in the league.

Another potential distraction are the mental scars that many Leicester players still carry from last season, where they blew an even bigger lead to surrender their top four place.

Source : 90min