What Leicester have achieved thus far is nothing short of a miracle. To be 4 points clear at the top of the ‘most competitive league in the world’ with 7 games to go defies all footballing logic, reasoning and punditry. They are pretty much guaranteed (barring a incredible collapse) a top 4 place which in itself is miraculous for a club that last season were on the verge of relegation and the season before that plying their trade in the championship.
They have made a mockery of the premier league big guns that for so long have dominated the upper echelons of the table and proved that heart, desire, teamwork, determination and tactics really can deliver title success as opposed to throwing millions of pounds at the world’s elite players.
Some will argue that Leicester are only up there due to every other “big” team bottling their respective season, one looks to Chelsea and Arsenal in particular with the former being reigning champions and the latter in its best position for years to challenge and win the league. Manchester United are still struggling under the management of LVG whilst their noisy neighbours have struggled defensively and with injuries to key members of their squad. Chelsea have the turbulent spell of Jose Mourinho to blame for their current situation although Hiddink has come in and steadied the ship – it is only Arsenal that have no excuses for where they are – they simply cannot mentally handle the pressure of a title race.
The same cannot be said for the foxes, who under the guidance of the Ranieri have shown mental toughness, tactical prowess and a fighting spirit that have transformed mediocre players into premier league elites (Yes Robert Huth is an elite defender now). Leicester have been lucky with injuries with no key players being out a considerable number of weeks. Vardy, Mahrez, Drinkwater, Kante, Fuchs, Morgan, Albrighton and Schmeichel have been consistently performing at their peak and have remained injury free – resulting in not only affecting the belief and confidence of their squad-mates but also shooting Leicester to the top of the league.
Many talk about premier league winning teams having a solid ‘spine’ otherwise known as The GK, CB, CDM, CAM and ST and boy do Leicester have a strong player in each of those positions. Kasper Schmeichel has shown shades of his great father Peter with some outstanding performances between the sticks this season, saving a point or helping to keep all three on numerous occasions. Captain Morgan (not to be confused with the alcoholic beverage) has been a rock at the back alongside the experienced Huth, marshalling the back line and making many ask “Why isn’t Morgan playing for England?” – to then realise he has 23 caps for Jamaica. In Midfield – N’golo Kante has been the signing of the season, playing like a young Claude Makelele and considerably quadrupling his transfer value with his consistent man of the match performances.
Now we arrive at the two headline grabbers – Riyad Mahrez & Jamie Vardy. The deadly duo have been in lethal form all season with Mahrez the strong favourite for player of the year and Vardy cementing his place as one of England’s best strikers of not the best currently. Vardy has 18 goals and 3 assists whilst Mahrez has 13 goals and 9 assist – between them they have destroyed both the big guns and the smaller outfits to leave them in the commanding position they find themselves in.
No matter where they finish, what Leicester have done will surely go down in history as the greatest overachievement in premier league history defying all predictions and upsetting all the odds to leave them on the cusp of premier league glory.