Leicester go three points clear at the top of the Premier League with only 15 games remaining. Can the unlikeliest of unlikely happen? Can the Foxes become only the sixth team to win the Premier League in its history?
It’s difficult to explain to a teenager how monumental it is to see Leicester City at the top of the Premier League table with 15-games remaining. I know. I tried as I drove my son along the M4 today. He hardly glanced up from his mobile phone.
“Yeah, Vardy is awesome,” was the only murmer I heard.
Only five teams have ever won the Premier League.
Alex Ferguson’s Man United has dominated with 13 wins. Roman Abramovic’s Chelsea has won the title four times, Arsenal three, Man City two and Blackburn Rovers picking up a solitary title on 1994-95.
Blackburn bought the title. Chelsea and Man City have followed a similar pattern. Arsenal and Man Utd have spent their fair share of dosh, but they earned their titles by building teams the old fashioned way.
And this is why Leicester’s current berth at the top of the Premier League is astronomical. In the past five seasons Leicester has spent £58,800,000 building their squad. Only Bournemouth (£47,550,000) and Watford (£22,650,000) has spent less. By comparison, the four former winners, who remain in the Premier League, have spent over £1.5 billion.
Last season, with 23 games notched up, Leicester City were at the foot of the Premier League table. They had won only four games, drawn five, lost 14, conceded 37 goals and had accumulated only 17 points.
Leicester’s easy 3-0 victory over Stoke on the weekend was their 20th Premier League victory in the past 32 games. Stoke have been playing some blinding football. Leicester made them look like a Sunday pub league side. Jamie Vardy was back on the score sheet, and Riyad Mahrez was back to his impetuous best, and in N’Golo Kante they have a player who has racked up more tackles and interceptions than any other player in the Premier League.
In my best Kevin Keegan accent:
“I would love it if Leicester wins the Premier League.”
Leicester went clear at the top after Arsenal lost by a goal to nil at home to Chelsea. The game was effectively done and dusted in the first 20-minutes. William broke free for Chelsea, slid an inch perfect pass through to Diego Costa, and Per Mertesacker hacked him down giving referee Mark Clattenburg no option but to send the German off.
Arsenal reacted by hauling off Olivier Giroud, replacing him with Gabriel Paulista. But the new Arsenal back line didn’t have time to sniff before a well timed cross by Branislav Ivanovic was volleyed home by Costa at the near post. It was Mr Angry’s eighth goal in the past eighth game.
Arsenal’s loss means they drop to third. Man City move up to second after securing a hard earned point away to West Ham. Slaven Bilic has gotten his team working so well that after the game he told the press that they were all ‘a little bit disappointed’.
Enner Valencia opened up the scoring for West Ham in the 53rd second. It was the second fastest Premier League goal of the season (Matt Ritchie of Bournemouth scoring in 49-seconds against Spurs). City were level within 10-minutes after Karl Jenkinson brought down Sergio Aguero in the penalty area. It’s the third penalty that Jenkinson has conceded this year – more than any other player. Aguero himself put away the penalty.
If Man City are going to win the title this year they have to do something about their comical centre half partnerships. Valencia making them look like a couple of mugs after a long throw in waltzed past them both leaving the Ecuadorian with a simple tap in. Aguero ensured West Ham would not completed the double over them when he rescued a point in the 81st minute. West Ham hit the crossbar with the last kick of the game. Dmitry Payet was once again the man of the match for the Hammers. He is the find of the season.
Spurs put some distance between them and Man Utd in the race for the Champions League places. England manager Roy Hodgson would have been grinning like a Cheshire cat after Harry Kane and an unbelievable goal by Dele Alli helped Spurs on their way to a 3 v 1 win away at Crystal Palace. Nacer Chadli scored a pearler of a goal with the last kick of the game. Jan Vertonghen had given Crystal Palace an early lead with an own goal. Alan Pardew’s men were once Champions League prospects. Not anymore. This defeat was their fourth on the spin, they have not won a league game in six, and have only scored once in that timeframe, and that was an own goal.
Spurs are now five points clear of Man Utd after another drib-drab home performance from a side that will surely end of the season with a new manager in charge of the controls. Boos rained down from the stands at half time, seconds after Charlie Austin headded home the winner on his Southampton debut, and as the players trudged off the pitch. This is not the United of old. The Independent has published an article suggesting that Jose Mourinho has written a six page letter to United expressing his strong desire to manage at Old Trafford. As a United fan I hope that letter touches the hearts of the United board. They need a chaneg and they need it now.
At the other end of the table Norwich continue their slide towards the abyss after losing in a nine goal thriller at home to Liverpool. Norwich reacted well to a Firmino opener, and were leading by three goals to one after Wes Hoolahan scored Norwich’s first penalty of the season after a mind blowing moment of idiocy by the Liverpool full back Alberto Moreno.
Then came the Liverpool fight back.
First Jordan Henderson showed we he somehow graces the cover of FIFA16 alongside Lionel Messi by reducing the deficit to 3-2 in the 55th minute, Fiino grabbed his second of the game in the 63rd minute, and James Milner put them 4-3 ahead in the 75th minute after a calamitous backpass by Norwich captain Russell Martin.
Norwich fans were given some hope when the fourth official showed five minutes of injury time. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was seen playing holy hell with the official. It got worse a few minutes later when Senastien Bassong seemed to rescue a poinf for the Canaries with a stunner from the edge of the box, only for Adam Lallana to score the winner in the last minute of the game. Klopp breaking his glasses in a team bear hug at the side of the pitch. You have to love the enthusiasm of this man. Liverpool is up to seventh. Norwich is now two points above the drop zone.
The only reason Norwich didn’t fall further is because Watford woke from their four game slumber with a 2-1 victory over Newcastle. Quiqe Flores’s team has been one of the surprises of the aeason, but they came into this one on the back of four successive defeats. Goals from the superb Odion Ighalo and Craig Cathcart putting Watford two goals up before Jamaal Lascelles pulled one back for Newcastle in the 71st minute.
Both Sunderland and Aston Villa remain below Newcastle. Sunderland getting lucky to grab a 1-1 draw against a Bournemouth side who seem to play all the football, but can’t find that killer touch. Aston Villa had to settle for a goalless bore draw with West Brom.
Here are the rest of the weekend’s results.
Week 23 Results
Norwich 4 v 5 Liverpool
Man Utd 0 v 1 Southampton
Leicester 3 v 0 Stoke
Watford 2 v 1 Newcastle
Crystal Palace 1 v 3 Spurs
Sunderland 1 v 1 Bournemouth
West Brom 0 v 0 Aston Villa
West Ham 2 v 2 Man City
Everton 1 v 2 Swansea
Arsenal 0 v 1 Chelsea
Premier League Standings (After 23 Games)
1st. Leicester – 47 pts.
2nd. Man City – 44 pts.
3rd. Arsenal – 44 pts.
4th. Spurs – 42 pts.
5th. Man Utd – 37 pts.
6th. West Ham – 36 pts.
7th. Liverpool – 34 pts.
8th. Southampton – 33 pts.
9th. Stoke – 33 pts.
10th. Watford – 32 pts.
11th. Crystal Palace – 31 pts.
12th. Everton – 29 pts.
13th. Chelsea – 28 pts.
14th. West Brom – 28 pts.
15th. Swansea – 25 pts.
16th. Bournemouth – 25 pts.
17th. Norwich – 23 pts.
18th. Newcastle – 21 pts.
19th. Sunderland – 19 pts.
20th. Aston Villa – 13 pts.