Leicester is a town located in the middle of England, roughly 90 miles in the east of London. Town has the population of around 3 lakhs only. It has given world famous personalities like Sir Richard Attenborough, Sam Bailey and English music band Black widow. This time, it is going to give the world’s most surprising winner of EPL, by its native club Leicester City.
The club is 132 years old. In their long existence in world soccer, the biggest trophy that the club has achieved is relatively small in weight, Football League Cup. As far as the title of English Premier League is concerned, their closest touch was in 1928-29 season when they finished as runner-up. By nature, they have never been a major English force and yoyoing between first and second division in their history.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thai businessman took over the club in 2010. He started sponsoring shirt by his product (King Power) and revamped the stadium. It is now called King Power Stadium. Its capacity was increased to 30000. All these activities changed the fortunes of the club. They were crowned champion of the second division in 2013-14 under English coach Nigel Pearson. In their top flight, they remained in the red zone but their last ten games changed everything and they finished the league in 13th spot in the 14-15 season.
This season, the club is scripting history. They are sitting at the top with about 3/4th of the marathon race completed. Coach Claudio Ranieri joked in early January that sadly, it is January, not May. There are strong reasons to believe that foxes will hunt the cup. Reasons are as follows-
Their future will be locked on 15th May at Stamford Bridge. If we compare their upcoming fixtures, their road as a comparison to other title chasers, is the smoothest. Their opponents on the way to glory are relatively weak and some of them are relegation candidates. So, it will be easier for them to kiss the cup.
History is with them. At this stage, the team on top of the chart has gone on to win the title. Arsenal and Manchester City are shocking their fans with some adverse results. Both are lacking consistency as well.
Verdy is the surprise of the season. He is top scorer of the chart. Along with him, Mehrez is the most unselfish scorer and provider. He is ‘Iniesta’ of the blue brigade. Foxes are among the best in scoring goals and among the best on defense as well.
They are out of League cup. In the race to FA cup, they have been shown the door by EPL rival Tottenham. Now, they have only one cup to dream about. Their closest rivals are 2 London clubs, followed by 2 Manchester club. Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham have their dream in Europe as well, with tough fixtures. Arsenal is alive in FA cup also. As the season will come to close, pressure will only increase and two of them will succumb.
Their squad is fit, healthy and no player is in injury list. With few matches to play, it is quite likely that it will not grow. So, Ranieri can sleep well and come out with full cylinders in each match.
Players and coach are hungry. It is often said that nice guys finish second. Claudio Ranieri is an epitome of it. The Italian was second best in Chelsea, A S Roma and Monaco days. Since going out of Chelsea, Robert Huth is fiddling with minor clubs. Kasper Schmeichel wants to be famous like his father. Danny Simpson also wants recognition. Danny Drinkwater, another ex Man Utd player is looking for silverware since Man United days. Albrighte and Kante have played their hearts out. Few goals have been scored by brave Japanese samurai Shinji Okazaki but he had contributed more to the campaign by far. It’s a bunch of players who have been talented and now sensing that their moment of sunshine has come.
Interestingly, the town is at equal distance from Liverpool, Manchester, and London. Has their time come? Too early to say? No
Author – Vijay Anand
Image Source – http://www.thevillablogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/leicester_city.jpg