Thursday, April 19, 2018

Leicester out-foxing the Premier League big boys

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 15 Dec 2015

Algerian international winger Riyad Mahrez has been a key player in Leicester's unlikely title charge this season

Algerian international winger Riyad Mahrez has been a key player in Leicester’s unlikely title charge this season

Fans of Leicester City must be in dream land at the moment. This time last year they looked to be heading back to the Championship.

However a year on and they are sitting proudly at the top of the Premier League table.

A 2-1 win over reigning champions Chelsea on Monday underlined the fact that the Foxes may just be the real deal this season, although the Blues are not exactly tough opponents these days.

The most in-form players in the top-flight

Last season the likes of Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez were shining like the stars they are supposed to be.

This is the season of the underdog though, as along with Watford’s energetic striker Odion Ighalo, Leicester’s star pair Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have starred in the top-flight.

The Foxes duo has inspired the Foxes unlikely Premier League title charge. The pair’s statistics speak for themselves. Algerian international playmaker Mahrez has now scored 11 goals in the Premier League and produced seven assists.

Record-breaking striker Vardy has now scored 15 goals in his 16 Premier League appearances this season. It seems almost inevitable that the goals will dry up at some point because most strikers go through dry spells in front of goal. However his good form shows no sign of abating.

Mahrez and Vardy have formed one of the most exciting pairs in the top-flight, even if they are not a traditional partnership.

The neutrals favourites

Every so often a team comes along in the Premier League that neutrals love to watch and even cheer on at times. Leicester has become that team for me since last season when the Foxes went on an amazing run of form to beat the drop.

The Foxes are quite simply a breath of fresh air to the top-flight. While the big spenders of Chelsea capitulate, Manchester United are mundane and Manchester City stutter at times, lively Leicester keep on winning and in style too.

For a neutral they are a dream to watch and are the epitome of the underdog. Their star players have rose from obscurity and their boss Claudio Ranieri once labelled a ‘nearly man’ by the British media is now receiving some credit for his work.

Ranieri may have made mistakes at Chelsea, but since leaving Chelsea and being replaced by Jose Mourinho, the Italian has enjoyed not exactly disastrous spells at Juventus and Monaco.

He may be a nice guy, but he is no fool. It would be so ironic if the veteran boss achieved major success with the Foxes, after a perceived failure at Stamford Bridge. The affable Italian deserves praise, as he has got even more out of the Leicester players than predecessor Nigel Pearson.

Ranieri has only brought in a few players since his arrival and he has not had major resources to achieve Leicester’s lofty position, so he deserves high praise indeed.

A European tour anyone?

No team with 35 points at this stage of a Premier League campaign has ever failed to claim a top-four spot. The Foxes are now odds of 15/8 to finish in the top four this season, which would have been unthinkable for Leicester fans at the start of the campaign.

Leicester’s title challenge will probably face a stiff examination in upcoming away games at Everton and Liverpool, who both still harbour hopes of finishing in the top four this season.

If the Foxes get through those games and a home game with big spending Manchester City, and they are still in touch with the leading teams then they cannot be written off in the title race.

History tells us that the likes of Liverpool and Newcastle have attempted to win the title, only to run out of steam towards the end of the season. Even Everton have threatened to gate crash the exclusive Champions League club, but have come up short.

Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United are still regarded as many people’s favourites to claim the Premier League trophy at the end of the season, which is expected because of the money those clubs have spent in recent years.

For me it would be fantastic for Leicester to maintain their current form and win the Premier League. It may be fantasy at the moment, but the Foxes now seem to have the support of the neutral supporter.

Leicester represents the underdog and everyone loves an underdog. It would be a victory for football over finances if the Foxes did go all the way. Unfortunately I can see the lack of depth to the Foxes squad being the undoing of Ranieri’s team.

However, for now like a lot of people I am enjoying Leicester’s amazing season and long may it continue. Their rise this season has been fantastic for the Premier League and it looks unlikely that they are finished just yet. All I have to say is Come On Leicester!!!!

Does Leicester have the staying power to win the Premier League title?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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