The English premier league is widely considered as one of, if not, the most exciting leagues in football, due to the high level of competiveness, all the action packed derbies, and of course the truck load of cash earned by its stars, but this season, the EPL is in the headlines for a different reason. It’s what I consider the surprise of the decade – from being saved from relegation by a string of eye catching performances in their last seven games last season, under the watchful eye of ‘last gasp’ Nigel Pearson, to being top of the league!…with 8 games to go! In just under a year! It has been quite a fairytale season for the foxes.
Some people may not actually recognize and appreciate Leicester’s sudden rise to the top, but the stats speaks for itself. Leicester city is in the form of its life, its 132 year old life. Before this season, the club’s highest ever finish was second place in the top flight, in division one in 1928-29, if you do the math that’s quite a long time ago…the point? Leicester have never come close to winning the league, nobody expected them to be in the top 10, but here they are, 5 points clear at the summit of football’s most watched league.
What makes it all the more surprising, and exciting is that, the entire Leicester team, isn’t worth up to half the humongous amount which man city ‘expended’ on Raheem sterling…Just to put that into perspective, the question on everybody’s lips nowadays is how did it happen? And will the fairytale season run all the way to the end?
How did it happen…of course as a Nigerian, we like to see the various sides of the story, it seemed somewhat magical, but then those pictures of Buddhist monks in Leicester’s king power stadium surfaced and some of my Nigerian folks adequately reached a conclusion. This guy just sums it up…
But in all honesty, a lot of credit has to go to Leicester city coach Claudio Ranieri, since he took over at the helm of affairs in Leicester, has brought a lot of dynamism to the team, changing the teams style of play and bringing in team spirit that some will compare to that of Chelsea in the mourinho golden era. Ranieri’s humility has since kept him out of the watchful eyes of the media, and he has been able to carry Leicester to greater heights. But Ranieri owes a lot to three of his players of which in my opinion have been his standout performers this season, Riyad mahrez, (my nomination for player of the season), N’golo Kante, and of course Jamie Vardy, whose meteoric rise to fame has been one to remember( you know the story, from factory worker to highest goal scorer).
One thing is for sure, if Leicester doesn’t play their cards well, these players and possibly even Drinkwater, will be plying their trade in Europe’s elite clubs next season.
N’golo Kante especially has been the back bone of that midfield, I’d liken him to Nemanja Matic of last season for Chelsea, and Claude Makelele back in the days, he’s simply the under the radar key player that makes things happen for Leicester’s attackers, and gives adequate protection for his back four. Little wonder he got his international call up for France against Netherlands recently.
Leicester’s opposition honestly in my opinion with the exception of Tottenham no longer provide a serious competition for the league, Arsenal’s stuttering form over the last 10 seasons have left them predictable at this stage of the league, and for Manchester city, It seems Pellegrini isn’t given his all again, why? Topic for another day, but unless we see the magical man city that turns into a winning mechanism in their last 5 to 7 games, as we have seen in the past 2 to 3 seasons, then Leicester has it all to lose.
The climax of the whole scenario? Leicester is on their way to the title, and last season’s champions Chelsea are in limbo somewhere in mid table, and Leicester city’s last fixture this season will be against Chelsea, how ironical it will be for Leicester to lift the trophy, in Stamford bridge! Well that will be a sight to behold. Come 15th of May 2016, we will see if Leicester is the complete surprise package, or could it even be earlier?