Leicester City has proven everyone wrong all season. When Leicester won their first few games and Jamie Vardy was on his goal scoring streak, nobody really took them seriously. Everyone still though Leicester didn’t have the depth to sustain a season long title run and at some point, the big teams will swallow them up and spit them out.
When we entered the festive and busy December, Leicester City remained top of the table. After December and we entered January, we waited to see if Leicester City would possibly sell their stars and cash out while they were ahead. Now that January is over and all the critical pieces of Leicester’s team are still with the team, the focus shifted in their incredibly difficult schedule. Particularly, that they must face their five closest opponents away, including back-to-back games away at Manchester City and Arsenal. On top of those two games was a home game against Liverpool, one of two teams to have given Leicester City a loss.
After handedly defeating Liverpool 2-0, Leicester City sees themselves in an even better position than they ever thought. With Arsenal’s draw to Southampton, Leicester City remained in first place by three points over Manchester City and five points over Tottenham and Arsenal. With their games against Man City and Arsenal coming up, this is the moment where we can finally say that Leicester City is a favorite to win the Premier League.
If Leicester City can get results against Manchester City and Arsenal, they will be in an incredible position entering the final 12 games of the season. And it’s highly achievable for Leicester to get points against both of these big teams.
First test is against Manchester City. Manchester City beat Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light and come into this game hitting on all cylinders heading back to the Etihad for Leicester. But from what fellow writer Pauly Kwestel pointed out, Manchester City hasn’t won back-to-back EPL games since October 17. Their form since then, over 15 games were DWDLWLWLWDWDWDW. This has to be welcome news to Leicester City, who took City to a 0-0 draw on December 29. Worst case scenario for Leicester City, Man City wins and goes into a tie for the top spot. Best case scenario, Leicester will be a minimum five points ahead of second place going into mid-February.
After Manchester City is Arsenal and while Arsenal has been the most dangerous team to Leicester, beating them 5-2 on September 26, Arsenal hasn’t played well over the past month. In the Premier League, Arsenal hasn’t scored a goal since January 13 against Liverpool, a total of 305 minutes and three full games without scoring. Arsenal got two points out of those three games by getting two 0-0 draws, but that’s not the form of a champion. A loss to Leicester City could mean Arsenal would be eight points behind the top spot with just 12 games to play. A loss would all but eliminate Arsenal from the title.
It’s shocking to think about but the team most likely to unseat Leicester City at the top of the table is Tottenham and Leicester City already beat them a few weeks ago. Spurs is on a three game winning streak and passed Arsenal for third on goal differential. Similar to Leicester, Tottenham isn’t afraid to draw games if that is wha they can get. What both do brilliantly is that they limit their losses. Leicester has two losses and Tottenham has three while the next lowest team has five. Yeah, Tottenham at this point is the team who Leicester City should most fear.
But this is about Leicester City and them being able to be favorites for the crown. Results against Manchester City and Arsenal will put Leicester City as favorites. What was once impossible to think about, to having a thought that they can have an outside shot, to waiting and seeing how they handle the typical pitfalls, to finally accepting that this is a team who can do it and win the title. And not only have a chance to win the title, but to be a favorite for the title. It gets likelier and likelier every week and Leicester City keeps picking up believers every week.