Back-to-back losses for the first time in 2013 can hardly be considered even a mini-crisis for Leicester City. Defeat to Peterborough at London Road was disappointing, and certainly against the run of form the Foxes have enjoyed since the start of the calendar year, while the FA Cup fourth-round replay home defeat to Huddersfield goes to show how vastly improved this Nigel Pearson squad is. Fans will have been concerned with how Leicester played against the Terriers on Tuesday night, bearing in mind the potential prize money, TV time and arguably winnable last-sixteen tie with Wigan Athletic, but if there ever was a time to rotate and give fringe players the chance to show what they are capable of, that was the game to do it in.
However, the Foxes have dropped out of the automatic promotion places without having played a minute of league football in the seven days. Cardiff, Hull, Watford and Crystal Palace have all taken at least four points from their last two games, leaving Leicester almost in uncharted territory. Albeit with two games in hand, Nigel Pearson’s side are currently six points off second place. Something more concerning is Leicester’s defensive record in recent weeks; the Foxes have conceded six goals in their last four games, compared with just one goal conceded in the six games preceding them. Leicester still boast the Championship’s stingiest defence, but with a half-dozen games over the next three weeks, captain Wes Morgan will need to rally the troops in order to give his side the best chance of climbing the table.
This is a pivotal time for Leicester City. With more than two-thirds of the season now gone, they will need to prove to the rest of the league that they deserve to be in amongst a very competitive Championship promotion race. While Nigel Pearson’s men are eleven points better off than they were at this stage last season, which is a testament to the manager and the squad he has put together, Cardiff look like runaway winners with fourteen game remaining and an eight-point lead. With perhaps only one automatic promotion spot realistically up for grabs, Leicester still face some tough opposition; away trips to Crystal Palace, Brighton, and Cardiff still await the Foxes, while trips to rivals Derby and Nottingham Forest on the last day of the season always have an added incentive.
The Foxes should be boosted by the return of Chris Wood in attack. The New Zealander has been impressive since making his move to the King Power Stadium at the turn of the year, scoring seven times in six appearances. Wood’s absence through injury has been notable in Leicester’s last two fixtures, and he will be looking to add to the Foxes’ scintillating home record tomorrow night against Charlton.
It isn’t quite time to break out the calculators yet; there is still a lot of football to be played and a lot of points to be played for. Right now, Leicester must dig deep and keep playing at the high level that they and the fans have become accustomed to.