Wednesday 22 November 2017

Comment: It's unanimous... Leicester City are going to be Premier League champions

Leicester City's Marc Albrighton celebrates winning after the game
Action Images via Reuters / Tony O'Brien
Leicester City's Marc Albrighton celebrates winning after the game Action Images via Reuters / Tony O'Brien
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

So that’s it then, Leicester City are going to be Premier League champions.

It has been hard to get your head around that unfathomable prospect in the last few weeks, but after their battling win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, the jury that had been waiting to deliver their verdict on Claudio Ranieri’s table toppers came back with a unanimous decision.

This title race is close to being over, with the team that was listed as a 5000-1 outsider to claim the crown all-but assured of finishing the season in top spot. What a story.

Leicester's latest performance at Selhurst Park had all the hallmarks of a side with title winning ambitions, with their punch in the final third fused with a wonderfully vibrancy that has enchanted all observers as their flying start to the season has developed into something so much more meaningful.

The deadly attacking combination of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy were again prominent in their latest win against a Palace side that continue to look over their shoulders at the wrong end of the table, with a club operating with a budget that is comparable to theirs closing in on a dream that still seems impossible to comprehend.

If Mahrez and Vardy are Leicester’s headline acts, this latest display offered another showcase for the team effort that has pushed Ranieri’s side to the brink of history.

Kasper Schmeichel’s immaculate display between the sticks was notable for his fine save and superbly swift distribution from the back, while Wes Morgan and Robert Huth were giants at the heart of their defence once more.

The perpetually moving N’Golo Kante caught the eye in midfield once more and the same was true of Danny Drinkwater, who justified his first call-up to the England squad this week by another effervescent display at the heart of the action.

Shinji Okazaki’s energy and drive alongside Vardy in the forward line should not be under-estimated, with their collective effort to deal with the pressure that has poured down on them as their title fantasy became a tangible prospect so impressive.

Ranieri is reveling in the glory of his side’s rise from obscurity to the brink of the greatest prize in English football, yet his job has been easy in so many ways this season.

An injury free run for his key men has allowed him to field an identical line-up every week, with each member of his team working to a clear vision that so many of the Premier League’s clubs have failed to crystalise this season.

There is no doubt that Leicester’s imminent glory has been given a huge helping hand by the lamentable efforts of defending champions Chelsea, the two Manchester clubs, Merseyside’s finest and, to an extent, the faltering displays of Arsenal, but that should not take away from the reality that their simple approach to the game has trumped all their big-spending rivals.

Recent financial figures suggest that Leicester are operating with the fourth lowest wage bill in the Premier League, with their £48.2m annual bill increased by the new deal recently handed to lead striker Vardy and yet that is merely small changed compared to their rivals.

The £215.6m Chelsea are handing out to their faltering stars looks costly in a season when they have fallen horribly flat, while the £203m Manchester United are coughing up for a team specializing in consistent mediocrity is an embarrassment for all associated with the fallen Old Trafford giants.

Now, with just seven games left to play, this title is Leicester’s to lose and while their success should be used to highlight the deficiencies afflicting each and every one of the English giants who have lost their way despite all their riches, we should also salute the best team in this season's Premier League.

All credit to Leicester City, Premier League champions-elect.

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