For the entirety of this EPL season, it’s never been a question if a big club could catch Leicester City and retake the Premier League lead, but which big club would. Eventually, the thinking went, this plucky group of upstarts would turn back into a pumpkin and they’d be eclipsed by the inevitable late charge from Arsenal or Manchester City and the season would be another crushing lesson that whoever has the most money wins.
Not so fast. Today, they beat Manchester City, or rather, whooped the everliving shit out of them in their own building. This takes them six points clear of their nearest pursuer (Tottenham and Arsenal can make it five if they win this weekend), and with 13 games left to play, it’s no longer time to start wondering if we can take them seriously as contenders, but if anyone has a chance to catch them.
Before today’s match, City probably would have been the favorites. Their once-dominant central midfield can’t control the game as well as they used to, but they have a very dangerous chance creation engine with Sergio Agüero waiting at the end. City’s core that has held together for a few seasons, and even if Vincent Kompany has lost a step, they still are stocked with talent all over the field. They got played off the pitch today.
Robert Huth poached two set piece goals today for the Foxes, and played some stout defense. Riyad Mahrez and Shinji Okazaki ripped apart the Manchester City midfield in transition, and Mahrez got a beauty of a goal for his troubles.
As Draper noted earlier this week, teams who aren’t United, Chelsea, Arsenal, or Manchester City don’t win the Premier League. It’s happened once since 1992. But now that Leicester has cleared the Man City hurdle so emphatically, they should be considered as the favorites to take the title. We now have a sufficiently large sample size that we can determine that Leicester are For Real. Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kante, Shinji Okazaki, Mahrez, and Gökhan Inler are not all about to suddenly play down to their transfer fees. This is who they are and who they are is a terrifying goal machine.
After Arsenal next weekend, they have a relatively light schedule. If they beat them, they might run away with this thing, which would be a fitting cap on the weirdest EPL season since I’ve been watching.
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