My own (sort of) love letter to Leicester
AS we enter the second month of 2016, the days are getting longer, the weather should apparently be getting warmer and the end of the Premier League is looming closer. Football fans are eagerly waiting to see who will be crowned champion of what has been the most unexpected season of all time.
To predict that Leicester would be sitting at the top of the league come February would be considered madness by anyone, even hard core Leicester fans. The end of the 2014/15 season saw the Foxes finish 14th in the table after a relegation struggle, just 6 points away from dropping back down into the Championship. The start of the next season saw the appointment of Claudio Ranieri as manager – in what turned out to be an inspired decision.
Since then Leicester have taken the footballing world and turned it upside down. A strong start to the season saw the Foxes racking up point after point, only falling foul to Arsenal and Liverpool before the New Year. They brought in 2016 with a place at second in the table, behind Arsenal only on goal difference. Striker Jamie Vardy, playing in Conference just 4 years ago (and tweeting some bizarre statements), now holds the record for scoring in the most consecutive Premier League games. This was no mean feat, with Vardy overtaking Dutch legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy to write his name in footballing history.
Leicester’s current position is no fluke, with the team often producing excellent football to beat tough and resilient teams. Vardy and Mahrez have looked like a world-class striking duo this season, and players such as Kante, Drinkwater and Schmeichel haven’t been playing too badly either. At times, Leicester’s pace has been frightening, and they have honestly performed like a team that can win the league.
Despite this, everyone has been expecting them to drop off at some point, to run out of steam. But they haven’t. The Foxes are still top, top by a good three points and they don’t look like slowing down.
This is where I must make a confession. I am an Arsenal fan, who hasn’t seen my team lift the Premier League trophy since our ‘Invincible’ team that did it in 2004. I have put up with 3rd and 4th place for many years now and I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to not have our season capitulate around Christmas time. This season however is different. We have world-class players such as Sanchez, Ozil and Cech, our old rivals Chelsea and Man United have become ghosts of the teams they used to be and we’re still going strong in the title race. If we’re ever going to win the league, 2016 is our year.
Therefore it may come as a surprise that I’m praising Leicester, seeing as they’re Arsenal’s biggest threat at the moment. But truth be told, a part of me, albeit a very small part of me, would love to see Leicester win the league this year. I just can’t resist an underdog story, and to see a footballing minnow achieve the impossible would be incredible to witness, especially as a sporting enthusiast.
The next two weeks will determine Leicester’s final position in the table, with the Foxes either consolidating their lead at the top, or falling away from glory. If Leicester emerge unscathed from their upcoming encounters, I can’t help but feel we may have a new Premier League Champion come May.
Featured image: The Sun