Five things Leicester City must do to survive in the top flight

Leicester City

The Foxes were promoted without even kicking a ball after defeats for both QPR and Derby and can now get set for a season in the Premier League.

Leicester City secured promotion to the Premier League at the weekend following defeats for Derby County and QPR, having kept to their end of the bargain by beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 on Friday evening.

The Foxes lost out in dramatic circumstances to Watford in last year's play-off semi finals as Anthony Knockaert missed a last-minute penalty to send his side through, before Troy Deeney struck the decisive winner to send the Hornets through and consign Leicester to another season in the second tier.

But unlike Watford, who went on to lose to Crystal Palace at Wembley in the playoff final, Nigel Pearson's side have not let the heartache affect them and have been superb this season, culminating in promotion with something to spare after a swashbuckling brand of football which has seen them score 76 goals, more than any other side.

But, with a return to the Premier League secured, preparations will now be underway to ensure their stay is not a temporary one. Here are five things the Foxes can do to make sure that becomes a reality rather than a pipedream.

Placing faith in the manager

Critics will argue that most managers would have fancied their chances of operating on the Foxes' budget but Pearson has done a tremendous job with this side, regardless of the financial firepower provided by the club's Thai owners.

The Asian Football Investments (AFI) consortium have already shown their faith to Pearson, having backed the manager at the back end of 2012, just 12 months after his re-appointment, when results were proving hard to come by and the outlook appeared gloomy.

But Vichai Raksriaksorn must stick with his man through what is likely to be a tough Premier League campaign this season and take a leaf from Pearson's former club Hull City's book, with the Tigers keeping faith with Steve Bruce where other relegation candidates - including the increasingly-doomed Cardiff City electing for a managerial change which just has not worked.

Contract talks are already reportedly underway with Pearson and as many as 10 first-team players.

A case for the defence 

If there is to be any slight on Leicester's overall performance this season, then it comes from a defensive perspective. That may well owe slightly to the positive brand of football Pearson has implemented, which relies largely on the pace of Anthony Knockaert and Lloyd Dyer on the counter.

Captain Wes Morgan's decision to reject a move to local rivals Nottingham Forest last summer and pen fresh terms with the club at the start of 2014 was a welcome boost and youngsters Liam Moore and Ritchie de Laet have big futures ahead of them but the backline looks thin on numbers and could do with at least two Premier League level reinforcements.

There are also palpable concerns about the suitability of Paul Konchesky, the Foxes' left-back has helped contribute to the promotion campaign but his lack of pace could be brutally exposed in the top flight. A left-sided full-back appears a must.

Boosting midfield numbers

Danny Drinkwater and Matty James have been as pivotal to this Leicester City side as the likes of Knockaert, Dyer and Nugent but, ultimately, the duo have precious little support in the form of deputies.

Only Andy King, with summer signing Dean Hammond proving no more than a fringe player, has provided Pearson with a viable alternative to either of his first-choice central midfield options and it is something which must be addressed to provide squad depth for what will be a long, arduous season.

King and James have swapped roles more so than Drinkwater, who has made 38 first-team appearances this term. To put that into perspective, only Morgan and Nugent have played more. That makes up Leicester's key triumvirate.

Bolstering the attacking armoury

Nugent has been a revelation this term, firing 18 league goals to see his side comfortably take their place at the top of the league and retain it for the majority of the season.

Jamie Vardy, who was tipped to quit the game just 12 months ago and was playing non-league football as recently as May 2012, has been of equal importance, plundering 16 but aside from that, the other strikers have only contributed in small doses.

Kevin Phillips, signed on a short-term deal, has provided two, Chris Wood has four while Gary Taylor-Fletcher can boast just the solitary strike to his name. You get the impression Leicester will need to splash the majority of their summer cash on a bona fide marksman who can guarantee enough goals to steer them clear of danger.

Keeping the core together

As previously alluded to, there are certainly areas of improvement for Leicester to focus on this summer but, importantly, they should realise the reasons they have gained promotion are due, in most part, to the majority of the current crop.

Tweaks and amendments can be made here and there, but Pearson has tools already at his disposal to cause teams problems in the Premier League. The imposing figure of Kasper Schmeichel in goal, the brawn of Morgan at the back, the industry and creativity offered by Drinkwater and James at the heart of the midfield and the pace and flair of a star-studded attack ensure to that.

Pearson is savvy enough to know this, of course, hence why keeping those at the club out of contract has become the immediate priority for a side basking in the delight of ending a 10-year exile from the promise land of the Premier League.

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