Can Leicester win the Premier League?
More than halfway through the Premier League season, Leicester City remain top of the standings.
Their title bid, considered an impossibility in its early-season infancy, has endured and shows no signs of fizzling out.
The arguments against Leicester begin with their small-club status. Historically speaking, the best the Foxes have fared in the top flight was a second-place finish back in 1928/29, while they reached the FA Cup final four times between 1949 and 1969, but have never won it.
This is only their second season in the Premier League in recent history, with the 10 campaigns before that spent mostly in the Championship, England’s second tier, along with one season in League One. After earning promotion as winners of the Championship in 2013/14, Leicester spent most of last season fighting relegation.
Despite now having the guile of veteran Italian manager Claudio Ranieri at the helm, Leicester would have started this season with the ambition of avoiding the drop in a more comfortable fashion, but they won their first two matches and never looked back.
The poster boy for Leicester’s success, and presumably a vital component for the rest of their season, has been striker Jamie Vardy, who still tops the scoring charts with 16 goals. Romelu Lukaku, Odion Ighalo, and Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal remains under pressure at Old Trafford, with last weekend’s 1- 0 loss to Southampton doing little to settle the nerves. Reports claim the Dutchman offered to resign following that defeat to the Saints, although that story was swiftly debunked as United remain reticent with regard to their manager. In the wake of his rumoured offer of resignation, and its rejection by executive vice- Harry Kane follow close behind, with Leicester team-mate Riyad Mahrez completing the top five.
With 29 goals between them, Vardy and Mahrez have scored almost 70% of Leicester’s goals this season, so one might assume their title ambitions are chairperson Ed Woodward, it has been reported that the only thing keeping the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss in the job is the lack of an ideal successor at this stage of the season.
And yet, with results still not positive enough to please the club’s restless fans, who have spent all season lamenting the club’s “boring” style of play, they have also not been negative enough to force Van Gaal out. He remains teetering near the exit. tied to their goal-scoring form.
That being said, a point was salvaged from their recent 1-1 draw with Aston Villa thanks to Shinji Okazaki, while defender Robert Huth scored the crucial header for the 1-0 win over Spurs a few days earlier.
Most of Leicester’s players will have given their transfer value a massive boost this season, but started the campaign as one of the cheapest squads, and that was expected to reflect in their league position. With a squad costing just £52.8 million (R1.2 billion), Leicester were ahead in transfer value to only the freshly promoted Norwich City, Watford and Bournemouth, yet remain three points ahead of Manchester City, whose squad cost about £411 million.
Recent seasons had Leicester labelled a Championship-quality side fighting to keep itself in the top flight with a cheaply-assembled squad relative to most of their rivals. Yet here we are, at the end of January, wondering if they can take the Premier League trophy back to the King Power Stadium.
There’s no need to question whether they can win games, pick up points and go toe-to-toe with the Premier League’s finest, because they’ve been doing that all season.
– TEAMtalk Media