The 2015-16 English Premier League season may be the single best drama on television. With big-named clubs struggling, the underdog at the top and plenty of personalities it has become one memorable season.
No team exemplifies that better than league-leading Leicester City, but you wouldn’t know it if you listen to the pundits and commentators before, during or after the match. It’s almost as if they are rooting against the Foxes at times.
Early season tables are often funny to look at come January or February, with the minnows who showed well in the first few weeks eventually replaced by the big names of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool.
So, as the lowly Foxes sat atop the standings or within striking distance of the top spot from the beginning of the season it was understandable to question the reality of Leicester City as title contenders. What isn’t understandable is the continued disbelief and the movement of the goals for them to be considered real title favorites.
Up first was the goal to get through the month of November on top. Accomplished, but still plenty of critics.
Moving on from that hurdle, the next one was being able to get through the holiday fixtures on top. Again, understandable with matches against Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City and Liverpool on the docket to end the 2015 calendar year.
The Foxes went through that gauntlet with two wins, a draw and a loss. Impressive stuff no matter the level of the club doing that kind of work. Imagine if it were Manchester United in the same space, results like that against those clubs would’ve cemented title favorite status.
According to the hurdles set in front of Leicester City, it should’ve been the end to the wonderment over its ability to be true title contenders. But, that was far from the way things went.
Instead, the pundits wanted to see them handle the FA Cup and EPL at the same time and then they’d believe. Hurdle cleared, as Leicester ended the month on a roll and pulling 11 of a possible 15 points in the five EPL matches that month.
Leicester put up a huge win against fellow “top 4 contender” Tottenham during that stretch too, in the middle of a FA cup tie with the same club as well.
It still apparently wasn’t good enough, as many of the pundits looked ahead to “much tougher” fixtures against Man City and Arsenal. Pundits still wanted more though.
It continued this past weekend as Leicester were in the middle of its 3-1 drubbing of fellow title contenders Manchester City. During NBCSN’s broadcast, the team of Peter Drury and Jim Beglin began the weekly discussion over Leicester’s status.
Beglin answered that he would believe them legit title contenders if they were able to take care of Arsenal the next week. He even decided to stick his neck out there and make the gastly claim that Leicester are a “top 4 club.”
“I think Leicester have a great chance of top 4.” Jim Beglin sticking his neck out there.
— Daniel Maier (@danielmaier) February 6, 2016
To be fair to Beglin, it isn’t like he isn’t toeing the punditry line or anything. After all, the pundits gracing us on the internet, radio and tv have continuously doubted the Foxes for months now.
The win put Leicester City up big in the standings and coupled with later results pushed Manchester City from second to fourth. It still wasn’t good enough for the likes of Beglin though.
While fewer and fewer pundits remain in the disbelief category, it is simply astonishing how many are still willing to not give this team the credit anyone else with any other name would have given its results.
Tipping them as top contenders isn’t tipping them to actually win the title, and given the log-jam behind them at the top it would be unwise to think this race is over with just a five-point lead. Still, it is amazing how few in the professional pundits class are willing to realize that a near two-win lead in February certainly puts Leicester City in firm control of their own destiny.
The only question remaining is, what’s the next hurdle pundits like Beglin will put in front of the Foxes?