Leicester City has enjoyed an incredible year. First the Foxes produced a great escape from the Premier League relegation zone and then unbelievably topped the Premier League table on Christmas Day.
Everybody was waiting for the inevitable dip in form for the Foxes.
The Foxes form has shown no sign of abating until Boxing Day, when Liverpool became only the second team this season to win against Claudio Ranieri’s men in the top-flight.
Despite the 1-0 defeat, the side from the Midlands remained two points clear at the top of the table.
However on Tuesday night they face a major test of their surprise title credentials, as title favourites Manchester City head to the King Power Stadium.
A real gauge of progress
This game is a real gauge of whether Leicester can really cut it at the top of the Premier League. The Foxes were expected by many to be at the other end of the table and not challenging at the sharp end.
However, the Foxes have defied all odds with deadly duo Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez two of the stars of the first half of the Premier League campaign. The Liverpool game was the first league game this season that the Foxes have failed to find the target.
No doubt Ranieri’s side have progressed from last season. Mahrez and Vardy have developed beyond all recognition from last season and look like they could get in most of top-flight teams.
The importance of momentum
One defeat does not make a season, just like one victory does not. However, a defeat can cause a team to lose momentum, which can ruin a whole season. Momentum can be crucial for teams challenging at the top of the table.
Leicester has built up some very good momentum for much of the calendar year. Momentum helps build confidence within the team and within the individual players, who previously may not have had the same belief.
Leicester good run of form had to come to an end at some point and it came to an end at Liverpool on Boxing Day. Whether Leicester can stay at the top of the table will depend on how the players react to that disappointing result last time out.
Mahrez and Vardy have been in fantastic form and their performances have been a key to the Foxes good run of form this season. Vardy is a doubt for the clash against City and the Foxes will be desperate that the England striker is fit enough to feature.
City poor away from home
Manchester City are favourites to win at Leicester at odds of 10/11, but in truth the Citizens have struggled in their recent away games. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have failed to win any of their last five away games in the Premier League.
In fact City have scored just once in their last four away games on their travels in the top-flight, which is not exactly scary stats for any potential opponents facing City on home soil.
Manchester City has a squad full of quality players and on their day the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Sergio Aguero are all world-class performers. That’s without even mentioning Raheem Sterling or Yaya Toure. Quite simply City has a squad the envy of any club in the Premier League.
In usual seasons the Citizens are unlikely to see Leicester as rivals, or as a tough opposition. This season is not a usual season though. It is the season of the underdog. It is the most open Premier League campaign in years.
The top teams have struggled to find any sort of consistency. This season it is Leicester who has found the most consistent performances. The Foxes resolve will no doubt be fully put to the test by the visitors.
If Leicester comes through Tuesday night’s game unscathed, then the side from the Midlands will again believe that they can stay the distance and challenge for the title.
However, a defeat may just dent the confidence at the King Power Stadium and move Manchester City above the Foxes.
Unfortunately for Leicester, most of the Manchester City players have been here and bought the t-shirt when it comes to challenge for the title. I fear that City may just come away with maximum points from their trip to the Midlands.
Is the Leicester City’s bubble about to burst?