It seemed an odd choice when Southampton decided to sack Claude Puel back in June after only one season in charge. Even though Southampton finished the 2016/17 season in a comfortable eighth place, as well as making it to the league cup final, Puel saw himself without a job come June. Luckily, he didn’t have to wait too long to get back into action. After a rough start to the season in which Leicester only took one win from eight league games, the foxes saw themselves uncomfortably sitting 18th in the relegation zone. This poor run of form resulted in Craig Shakespeare being relieved of his duties, leaving assistant coach Michael Appleton to steady the ship while they searched for a new manager (who led Leicester successfully to a 2-1 win during his short period in charge). Thankfully for Leicester fans they didn’t take too long, and two weeks later they appointed Puel, and they haven’t had to look back since.

After taking over in late October, Leicester have seen themselves steadily climb up the table to eighth place with 35 points, five off the magic 40-point mark that many consider enough to generally avoid relegation and secure another season in the Prem. Puel has so far managed to escape the relegation battle which has consumed the majority of teams in the bottom half of the table. This on its own is an achievement, considering teams such as Watford who had a good start to the season are now tangled up amongst the relegation drama.

Furthermore, following Puel’s first game in charge, Leicester have taken 26 points from 17 games, winning five, drawing five, and losing seven. These results included a comprehensive 4-1 away win over Puel’s old club Southampton, as well as a 2-1 win over Tottenham, and a last-minute Maguire equaliser against Manchester United to end the game 2-2 back in December. Although it could be argued that it’s not the most mind-blowing record, it must be noted that since Puel was appointed, only Man City, Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal have had a better record than Leicester in the league. This makes their form under Puel that bit more impressive especially considering how well the top six teams have performed this season which is shown by the large gap between sixth and seventh place.

Arguably, there is still a third of the season left to play and anything could happen, but if the Foxes carry on the type of form that they have shown so far under Claude Puel, especially with the bottom half battling for relegation, they should be able to maintain their position and hopefully will be able to finish in the top half of the table by May. Which will be a much more positive end to the season than I can imagine many fans had predicted back in October.

Jim Green

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