We’re all thinking it. 12 months ago, we were witnessing Nigel Pearson guide Leicester City out of the relegation zone with an impressive seven wins in their last nine games. After spending 140 days at the foot of the Premier League, Leicester had just about survived.
Fast forward to the appointment of Claudio Ranieri in the summer and little did we know that winning run shown at the tail-end of the 2014/15 season was about to start the trend to this season’s campaign. Just how did they do it?
Here are three reasons why Leicester City are going to win the Premier League this season:
Train, train, train
Beating the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea is no mean feat. To show the skill and ability to not only fend of the best attacks established in England but to also compete and challenge it takes some planning. With the top clubs struggling this season with uncharacteristic performances, one team have managed to set standards high and continue to mesmerise throughout the season.
This isn’t luck, this is preparation.
Claudio Ranieri’s success story stems from the fact that he’s drilled his team into playing at their very top level, more than what the fans would ever expect. “We are playing 100% or maybe 120%, more than what we are doing is not possible.” (IBTimes) The Italian has asked more than what any manager has asked from their players and that is one reason why their about to win silverware.
Having the likes of Sergio Agüero and Mesut Özil always means you’re likely to see spectacular individual skill. Those magic moments to unlock a defence or that piece of trickery that’s fooled an opponent – it’s all on show when you have high-value players.
But what if you don’t?
What if you start the season with a team whose combined value is £23m? That’s less than Wayne Rooney, Christian Benteke and less than half of what City paid for Raheem Sterling. As we’ve learned over the course of this season, it’s not about the value of the player, it’s about how valued the player can become.
In Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, Leicester City arguably have the best midfield-strike duo in the country. The pair have combined to score 38 goals and bag 17 assists. That’s two less goals than the whole of Manchester United.
Talking about individual talent, alongside Mahrez and Vardy, there have been some inspiring defensive showings this season from The Foxes.
Newly-capped N’Golo Kanté has become the talk of the country, shielding the back four and chasing the ball without breaking sweat. Such is his importance in the side, he’s played 2667 minutes out of a possible 3060, making a significant 50 clearances. Leicester are known to play the same starting eleven every week and why not as the two players to have featured more in the league than Kanté are the defensive giants of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan.
Remarkably, the pair have kept 13 clean sheets this season, conceding the third-lowest in 2015/16. With Danny Drinkwater just in front and the hugely instrumental Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks, nobody except Arsenal have been able to beat them twice and that’s no surprise.
With four games to go and a five-point gap in second-place, you have to say Leicester are almost certainly going to be Premier League champions. You can never say never but if there’s a team that simply deserves to lift the title come the end of the season, you know they will be the team in blue and white.
As Ranieri says, “We’ve made a good story but, to make something you will remember in 30 or 40 years, we have to win.” (Sky Sports)
Images courtesy of: NDTV Sports and Mirror Online.