kayode OGUNDARE @kaybaba99
Nobody could have written this script last August when the Premier League kicked off that, with just four games to go, 12 points left to fight for and five points between the top two, a certain Leicester City will be sitting top of the log in England.
But, deal with it, that’s the reality. Claudio Ranieri’s men have fought to deservedly be where they are today and, perennial under-achievers Tottenham are their closest rivals and the race for who wins the 2015/16 season’s title has somehow turned out to be the classical Bible case of David versus Goliath, a contest of willpower between a superpower with enough resources to blow opponents out of the water and a minnow struggling to keep its head above sea level in sharks-infested water.
There’s been a subtle disdain, contempt even, by the traditional big teams who still cannot believe that these usurpers with a miserly budget (the whole Leicester City team is worth about £35, far less than what Manchester City spent on Raheem Sterling’s transfer from Liverpool) who have continued to confound and shame those whose birthright it is to fight for and win the Premier League every season.
The Foxes eked out a controversial 2-2 draw in an incident-filled game against West Ham at home last Sunday but Tottenham’s 4-0 whitewash of Stoke City at the Brittania Stadium ensured that the title race could go down to the wire.
Looking at the remaining games left to play, you’ll be forgiven if you think the guy who made these fixtures is a Leicester City fan.
Ranieri’s men have a more trickier run of fixtures than their rivals although their good run of results makes it easier to see why bookmakers will keep slashing the odds on their winning the title.
The last four games include visits to Chelsea and the notoriously unpredictable Manchester United as well as home fixtures against Swansea and Everton.
While the Foxes are not going to play against any of their direct rivals again, the last three games against Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea could dramatically impact the title race especially with their top scorer likely to face an extended ban for violent misconduct against West Ham.
Swansea (H); Man United (A); Everton (H); Chelsea (A)
Second-placed Tottenham are also on a fairy-tale run of their own and could have been the story of the season were it not for Leicester’s.
Spurs’ have a relatively easier run-in with games against West Brom, Chelsea, Southampton and Newcastle, all winnable games given Tottenham’s blistering form.
Though their destiny is not entirely in their hands, all Mauricio Pochettino’s men need to do is to win all four games and pray Leicester stumble at one point in the home run in order to wipe out the five point gap between them.
West Brom (H); Chelsea (A); Southampton (H); Newcastle (A)
With a healthy eight points gap between 2nd-placed Tottenham and the two teams behind them, it would take a Tsunami to have either of Manchester City or Arsenal to overtake Spurs so it is safe to say the other contest here is for who gets the last automatic Champions League spot and who enters Europe through the qualifiers.
Now, with just 12 points left to play for, Leicester are within touching distance of the title and can literarily taste the Premier League so you can understand why they are unwilling to blink lest the dream is snatched away within the twinkle of an eye.
And with that determination not to blink comes undue pressure and the fear of making mistakes.
What all these translates into is a window of opportunity for Tottenham to come from behind and snatch the title from their rivals should there be a stumble in the next four games.
The virulent rivalry among the London clubs, particularly in the northern part of the city, will ensure that there’s an equal split between those who want Leicester to win the title and those who pray for their fall.
I suspect that Arsenal would rather have Leicester win the title than let it go to their arch-rivals. I’m sure, also, that the feeling is mutual for Tottenham as far as Arsenal are concerned.
Luckily for Leicester, their only trip to London is at Chelsea and the Blues will undoubtedly be unwilling to do either Tottenham or Arsenal any favours.
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