Leicester City: Defying the Odds
The English Premier League provides the best entertainment value in football circles worldwide. From cut-throat competition, record fee signings, deadline day drama, derby matches and managerial changes.
In the current 2015/16 season, the in-form side has defied many odds and positioned themselves in the top four as we head into a tight December schedule. As I write this article, Leicester put their final touches on preparations to face defending champions, Chelsea. The clash presents a different story of form and fortune.
Pundits expected Leicester to battle relegation this season as was the case last season. However, the foxes are enjoying an awesome season under the stewardship of the tinker man Claudio Ranieri. Considered outsiders in the race for the Premier League crown, they could once again go top with a win against Chelsea later today.
Leicester has everything going their way with an accomplished manager in Ranieri and some of the most in-form players in the league in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. Vardy tops the scoring charts with a tally of 14 goals in 15 matches with Mahrez netting 11 times in 16 games. Their fan club seems to grow by the day and now includes Sir Alex Ferguson, who has expressed his belief they can win the title this season.
However, to win the title, they will have to defy even greater odds. The return leg fixtures of January to May wear out even the best of teams. They will have to add more players to their squad and obviously some more experience in the January transfer window. They have been linked with the experienced midfielder and premier league winner Nigel De Jong. The lack of title-winning experience may yet haunt them in the closing stages a fact they are well aware.
Historically, every team at the summit of the table after 16 games have finished the season among the top four. In the premier league era, such teams have finished in the top two positions. However, the Leicester City camp have been quick to dismiss title challenge talk. Both players and manager insist their key mission is to achieve the 40 point mark and guarantee safety. They have to battle and win all their matches this December, invest in January and hold down their position till the end.
Predictions and betting on fooball form part of the premier league game. The betting industry feeds off the competitiveness and unpredictability of the league. Soccer betting odds hand them a 3/1 chance to finish in the top four and a 28/1 to win the coveted title. Former Norwich City striker Chris Sutton was bagging the goals for the team back in the 1992/93 season when Norwich had a fairy tale title run before finishing third. He advises the players to shrug off pressure and take it a game at a time. Also, they should expect things to get harder and opposition meaner towards the end.