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October 24, 2012 / ultrafox1963

Is the slumbering giant beginning to stir?

Anthony Knockaert troubles yet another opposing defence

The name of Leicester City still sits proudly at the top of the Football League table, following last night’s hard-fought 1-0 win over fellow high-fliers Brighton and Hove Albion.

Having taken 19 points from the last 21 available, the Foxes are certainly a team in form. But can they sustain this quality over the course of a 46-game season, and end eight years of exile from the Premier League?

The mood among fans is certainly very positive. Last night’s attendance of 25 726 was the highest for an evening league game at Filbert Way since the 2004-05 season.

In addition, the win extended Nigel Pearson’s run of successive home wins to six, the best start to a season since the promotion-winning team of 2002-03 began their campaign in similar fashion.

Indeed, there are several similarities between the current squad and the one Micky Adams managed a decade ago.

Wes Morgan, rescued from the scrapheap when signed from neighbours Nottingham Forest last winter, has thrived during his time as City captain, in much the same way as Matt Elliott once did.

And Kasper Schmeichel, who distinguished himself with an exceptional penalty save from Brighton’s Ashley Barnes, has proved the most distinguished of the numerous successors to Ian Walker in the City keeper’s jersey.

But while Adams forged a side largely remembered as direct, dour and functional, Pearson has opted for a side with more flair.

French starlet Anthony Knockaert, has established himself, after only a handful of games, as a firm Foxes favourite, and already looks like a contender for the club’s and the Championship’s signing of the season.

Despite being subdued for long spells by the close physical attentions of his opponents, Knockaert produced moments of quality which electrified last night’s audience

However, it remains to be seen whether Knockaert can sustain such instances of brilliance over the coming months, in colder weather and on heavier pitches.

That is not the only question that remains to be answered about this side. Martyn Waghorn, making only his third league start in over a year, is still some way short of match fitness, and the standard he reached as a loanee in 2009-10.

Meanwhile the central midfield duo of Danny Drinkwater and Andy King did not look entirely comfortable when forced into physical battles with their Brighton counterparts.

Teams with a stronger cutting edge than was evident from last night’s visitors may have made more use of their long spells of possession.

Nevertheless, the run of results has given Pearson more scope to fine-tune the formation and personnel.

City have seen false dawns before in recent times, most notably when Sven-Goran Eriksson’s team picked up 22 points from the first eight games of 2011, only to subsequently fade from a promotion challenge.

But if Schmeichel, Morgan and Knockaert can retain their form and fitness, the class of 2012-13 may well display a far stronger level of resilience.

The East Midlands has waited too long for a side of genuine top-flight quality to emerge.  

Leicester City show signs of finally fulfilling that role..

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