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Leicester City, playing like champions do

Leicester City, English Premier League, Vardy, Mahrez
Leicester need 20 points from their remaining eight games to guarantee the Premier League title.

We’ve crossed the 30-game barrier in the 2015-16 English Premier League season and, to absolutely nobody’s surprise, Leicester City are still on top. Under pressure, after 2nd place Tottenham’s victory on Sunday, The Foxes edged past Rafael Benitez-managed Newcastle United 1-0 to maintain their five-point advantage. Arsenal and Manchester City are a further 11 and 12 points behind respectively and the Premier League looks more and more like a two-horse race with each passing gameweek.

A lot has been written about Leicester’s meteoric rise from table-prop’ers’ to table-toppers in the space of a year. Thousands of pages have been devoted to their team spirit, never-say-die attitude and the excellence of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. But if recent results are any indication, Leicester have also found the ability to win when they’re not playing all that well – a sign of a title winning side.

February was a crucial month for Leicester – playing Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal successively – and many assumed these would be the downfall for them. They thrashed both Liverpool and City, scoring five goals in the two games and conceding just one, cementing their title credentials. Despite an unlucky defeat to Arsenal in the following game, the games against supposed weaker opposition proved a tougher test for Leicester.

In their last four games, Leicester have faced Norwich, West Brom, Watford and Newcastle. Three of these they’ve won 1-0, in games when they weren’t at their best. That’s what champions do. They win when the chips are down, with their backs to the wall. Manchester United had mastered this art and there was a time when ‘One-Nil to the Arsenal’ was a mantra. Boring but effective, and that’s exactly what Leicester have managed to evolve in to.

Leicester need 20 points from their remaining eight games to guarantee the Premier League title. Their next five games are against clubs in the middle to lower half of the table. If they win all of those, and if Tottenham slip up, they may not even have to rely on their last three games of the season – tough fixtures against Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea in May.

 

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