Back in May 2015 Sunderland took on Leicester City at the Stadium of Light as both clubs attempted to avoid dropping into the Premier League relegation zone.
46,705 were in attendance as Nigel Pearson’s side took a point via a goalless draw against Dick Advocaat’s Sunderland to confirm their status as a Premier League club the following year. We, on the other hand, still needed another point from either of our last two games against Arsenal and Chelsea to avoid the drop.
In Pearson’s Leicester side that day was the likes of Robert Huth, Kasper Schmeichel, Marc Albrighton, Wes Morgan, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, but following the game the Leicester players celebrated in front of their fans, in what was seen as a major achievement for the Foxes.
We got that point in the following game, which came in the form of an impressive goalless draw at the Emirates, and confirmed our status as a Premier League club for another year. We finished 16th in the table, two places and three points behind Leicester City.
Then came the summer, and we’ve had a few, but it was an odd close season. Although Dick Advocaat had stated he had completed his task with Sunderland and was off for new adventures, we sent his wife flowers, and fairly late in the day, when it comes to summer preparations, the Dutch manager returned and signed on for a year.
Leicester City, meanwhile, decided to be a little bit ruthless and take a gamble. They sacked Nigel Pearson, who many thought had done an admiral job leading them to survival after leading them to promotion the season before that. Leicester went out and appointed Claudio Ranieri, who had been in the wilderness for nine months after a pretty disastrous stint as manager of the Greek national side.
The appointment was mocked by the national press, with Ranieri’s last act in charge of Greece being a defeat to the Faroe Islands, it was described as “baffling” in the Guardian. Leicester were now firmly locked as favourites for the drop and the Italian was installed as one of the favourites to be sacked from his post first in the new season's sack race.
So, three months after that goalless draw at the Stadium of Light, we repeat the fixture at the King Power Stadium to kick-off the 2015-16 season.
Younes Kaboul, Jermain Lens and Adam Matthews are the new faces making their debuts for the Lads in the East Midlands, with Leicester lining up with eight members in their starting XI who faced Sunderland three months earlier in the reverse fixture that ended in a goalless draw.
It was a good early test for both sides to see where they stood against, according to the bookies, a side who were also expected to struggle. Thirty minutes into the game, we had a clear answer of where we stood.
A Riyad Mahrez penalty after 25 minutes, put Ranieri’s side 3-0 up. Jamie Vardy started the scoring after only 11 minutes and Mahrez double the lead only seven minutes later with his first of the game.
To make matters worse, following a clumsy foul to give away the penalty that extended Leicester’s lead to three, Lee Cattermole was substituted by Advocaat with only thirty minutes on the clock.
On the hour mark, Jermain Defoe opened his account for the season to provide a glimmer of hope, which Marc Albrighton extinguished six minutes later to make it 4-1. Steven Fletcher completed the scoring with a header with 20 minutes left on the clock, but with Leicester creating twice as many opportunities than Sunderland, it was a mere consolation.
Our defending was frighteningly poor, which Younes Kaboul was quick to comment on after the final whistle as he began a new partnership in the centre of defence with Sebastian Coates:
We clearly weren’t at it. We were late for every ball. We conceded a lot and we were not sharp enough.
Unsurprisingly, Dick Advocaat wasn’t too thrilled following the heavy defeat and commented on our recruitment... or lack of it:
After 10 minutes there were three crosses and three goals. At this level this cannot happen.
You have to show every minute away from home and we didn’t see that in the first half. We have to wait [for new players]. We struggled again. Everybody can see that we need more.
Nine months later, Leicester City were crowned Premier League champions.
Saturday 8th August 2015
Barclays Premier League
King Power Stadium
Leicester City 4-2 Sunderland
[Vardy 11’, Mahrez 18’, 25’ (pen), Albrighton 66’ - Defoe 60’, Fletcher 71’]
Leicester City: Schmeichel, De Laet (Benalouane), Schlupp, Drinkwater, Morgan, Huth, Mahrez (Fuchs), King, Albrighton, Vardy (Kante), Okazaki Substitutes not used: Schwarzer, Hammond, Kramaric
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones (Matthews), Coates, Kaboul, Van Aanholt, Johnson, Cattemrole (Fletcher), Rodwell, Larsson, Lens, Defoe Substitutes not used: Mannone, O’Shea, Bridcutt, Giaccherini, Graham