After 5 games we simply chalked Leicester’s form down to early season luck. After all, many a Premier League season has started with a Hull or a West Ham getting a nose bleed at the top of the table before being rushed to the relegation zone.
After 15 games you would still have been laughed out of every pub beyond Leicester itself had you asked if they could really sustain a challenge. The Foxes were, after all, only toward the top of the league because the Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas of this world were unusually tardy in the their title charges. Weren’t they?
We have seen a few dips since but Leicester just keep picking themselves back up and confounding the critics. Claudio Ranieri has quickly found a formula which seems perfect for The Premier League and now, after 24 games, we are popping the question without an audible chuckle in the room. Can Leicester really do it?
Firstly, Leicester would surely be the most popular winners of the thing in Premier League history. As far as the fans of the big five are concerned, if their team can’t win it then they’d much prefer that a bitter rival didn’t either.
And it is a potentially very good moment for the underdog.
Serial winners Chelsea are out of the title race and Liverpool are two decades into their transitional phase and counting. Jurgen Klopp seems certain to raise the bar at Anfield but it will take time and they are miles off the pace right now.
Next come Manchester United who, with 14 games to go, seem to have finally woken up from their prolonged slumber of almost laughable mediocrity. But they are ten points adrift of Leicester and that means they need to pick up the better part of a point per game on The Foxes. Even a delicious Manchester United vintage would struggle with that challenge.
Arsenal look stronger than they have in years but they didn’t grasp the nettle when they were at the summit and a home draw in midweek has once more exposed a possible mental fragility where it comes to serious silverware. Don’t discount Arsenal, but we feel that there are other, greater dangers.
To the business end of the challengers. One obvious and the other a dark horse.
Tottenham have been nowhere near the title in decades but this season they are well ahead of schedule with a team that is young, fearless and a true joy to watch when in full flow.
Mauricio Pochettino deserves great credit and Tottenham are building up a head of steam. If anything Tottenham’s challenge is getting stronger by the week and, just 5 points off the pace, Leicester need to keep winning.
Finally, the big boys, Manchester City.
On their day they could beat any team in this league by a cricket score. But Manchester City often seem almost bored by their brilliance and are just as likely to implode as to embarrass the opponent.
But they have regained composure and consistency of late and, sitting just three points off the pace, they have to be considered the danger men.
So who is up next for Leicester? Why Manchester City of course! On paper this trip to Manchester represents Leicester’s biggest game of the season. Escape with a draw and it’s on. But a Manchester City win of any scoreline will see them leapfrog The Foxes.
If we didn’t know better we would then have to surmise that Manchester City would stroll their way to the title. But this Leicester team have surprised us much more than once this season. And what a fairytale it would be.
Leicester’s remaining Premier League fixtures
Man City v Leicester Sat 6 Feb 12:45
Arsenal v Leicester Sun 14 Feb 12:00
Leicester v Norwich Sat 27 Feb 15:00
Leicester v West Brom Tue 1 Mar 19:45
Watford v Leicester Sat 5 Mar 17:30
Leicester v Newcastle Mon 14 Mar 20:00
Crystal Palace v Leicester Sat 19 Mar 15:00
Leicester v Southampton Sat 2 Apr 15:00
Sunderland v Leicester Sat 9 Apr 15:00
Leicester v West Ham Sat 16 Apr 15:00
Leicester v Swansea Sat 23 Apr 15:00
Man Utd v Leicester Sat 30 Apr 15:00
Leicester v Everton Sat 7 May 15:00
Chelsea v Leicester Sun 15 May 15:00