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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Italian himself conceding they were struggling to adapt after a 3-0 defeat at Southampton in January. "Maybe my players didn't understand my idea very well," he reflected. But perhaps Ranieri was actually too slow to identify his side's problems, and too reluctant to move away from 4-4-2. While many teams adapt their formation depending on the opposition (Tottenham and Manchester City are just two of the sides to have played three at the back against Chelsea's system this season), Ranieri had avoided doing that. In fact, of the 18 Premier League teams to have used more than one formation in 2016-17 (Arsenal and Liverpool have not altered theirs), Leicester were the last to change. Which teams were the slowest to try a new formation this season? Team Date of first formation change Matchday of formation change Leicester 31/12/2016 19 Man Utd 06/11/2016 11 Tottenham 01/10/2016 7 Middlesbrough 24/09/2016 6 Chelsea 16/09/2016 5 Ranieri is making up for lost time though. Since his first instance of tinkering - a 1-0 win against West Ham on 31 December - he has yet to choose the same formation in back-to-back fixtures. So after their dismal start to 2017, will Leicester be able to reproduce the kind of end to the season that saved them in 2014-15, when they recovered from being bottom and seven points adrift with nine games to play? They are not in quite such serious trouble yet this time around, and Stringer expects them to do enough to stay in the Premier League. "I think this will be a watershed for them," he says. "Many of the current crop have experience of escaping relegation, and experience of doing it with this team. They'll survive." Share this page Find out more

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