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Friday 9 December 2016

Leicester's title campaign by the month

Published 02/05/2016 | 22:56

Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring in Leicester's 4-2 opening-day win over Sunderland as they set the tone for the season
Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring in Leicester's 4-2 opening-day win over Sunderland as they set the tone for the season

It has been a unpredictable roller-coaster of a season for Leicester after they clinched the Barclays Premier League title having lost just three times all campaign.

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They have been the outstanding team of the year and Press Association Sports charts their rise from 5,000-1 title outsiders to champions.

AUGUST:

Leicester begin with a convincing 4-2 win over wretched Sunderland in what many saw as a first-day survival battle.

Riyad Mahrez scored twice while Jamie Vardy netted his first of the season in a sign of things to come.

A 2-1 win at West Ham followed before a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham and a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth as a Vardy penalty began his record-scoring streak.

SEPTEMBER:

The month started with two comebacks as the Foxes fought back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 thanks to a Nathan Dyer's late winner.

A 2-2 draw at Stoke came after they were again 2-0 down before Mahrez and Vardy hauled them level in the second half.

Their first defeat of the season came in a 5-2 thumping at home to Arsenal, perhaps the only time they were outclassed despite Vardy's two goals.

OCTOBER:

Leicester recovered from the Gunners' defeat to win 2-1 at Norwich thanks to Vardy and Jeff Schlupp.

Another 2-2 comeback draw was secured at Southampton as Vardy scored twice and they finally kept a first clean sheet of the season with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace - prompting boss Claudio Ranieri to fulfil his promise and buy the squad pizza.

A 3-2 win at West Brom moved them up to third in the Premier League as Vardy continued his scoring streak by netting in his eighth game in a row.

NOVEMBER:

Vardy broke Ruud van Nistelrooy's Premier League scoring run by netting in his 11th straight match, the opener in their 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

Before then, N'Golo Kante and Vardy clinched a 2-1 win over Watford and a 3-0 victory, with goals from Vardy, Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa, at Newcastle sent the Foxes top.

DECEMBER:

Vardy's scoring run ended in Leicester's 3-0 win at Swansea as Mahrez picked up the slack with a hat-trick at the Liberty Stadium.

In their next three games the Foxes beat Chelsea 2-1 and Everton 3-2 before just their second defeat of the season, losing 1-0 at Liverpool.

They finished 2015 with a 0-0 draw with Manchester City, leaving them second - behind Arsenal on goal difference.

JANUARY:

Another home stalemate with Bournemouth kicked off 2016 as Leicester wobbled after Artur Boruc saved Mahrez's spot kick to leave them two points behind leaders Arsenal.

But Robert Huth's late header gave the Foxes a crucial 1-0 win at Tottenham and ended a run of three games without a goal.

A 1-1 draw at Villa took them top - a position they never lost again - despite Mahrez's second successive penalty miss and a 3-0 win at home to Stoke wrapped the month.

FEBRUARY:

It was a month where dreams started to become a reality as a stunning Vardy double - including a wonderful 30 yard volley - dispatched Liverpool 2-0.

But it was the 3-1 win at Manchester City - earned through Huth's brace and Mahrez's silky effort - which moved them five points clear at the top.

Danny Welbeck broke Leicester hearts with a last-minute header in a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal but Ulloa's 89th minute winner then earned a barely-deserved 1-0 victory over Norwich.

MARCH:

Fans starting cashing in their bets as one supporter settled for £72,000 following his £50 bet on the Foxes to win the title at the start of the season, when they were 5,000-1.

A 2-2 draw with West Brom briefly stalled momentum - Craig Gardner's free kick denying Leicester victory - before Ranieri's side started to grind out results.

Watford, Newcastle and Palace were all beaten 1-0 as Leicester stretched their lead to eight points and proved they could handle the growing pressure.

APRIL:

The run continued as captain Wes Morgan scored his first goal of the season to beat Southampton 1-0.

Vardy then ended ended a six-game drought to score twice - his 20th and 21st goals of the season - as they cruised past struggling Sunderland 2-0.

Leicester's title bid suffers a minor blow after a 2-2 draw with West Ham - when Jamie Vardy was controversially sent off after a second yellow for diving - but they then beat Swansea 4-0 without him.

MAY:

Missing Vardy, City went to Manchester United and got a 1-1 draw thanks to Morgan's goal. The next night, Chelsea drew with Tottenham and the job was complete.

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