Leicester City, overcoming Manchester City and Chelsea, and footballing romanticism

It has been quite the Premier League season so far, with shocks galore, a title race that has four teams in the running with 12 games remaining and entertaining football at a premium.

Although champions Chelsea’s demise is a key talking point, the emergence of Leicester City as the league leaders in February is the stuff of folklore.

If Claudio Ranieri’s men lose all of the remaining games, they will still go down in recent history for achievements seemingly impossible given the current climate of top-level football.

Sitting bottom of the Premier League at the turn of 2015, Nigel Pearson deserves credit for keeping the King Power Stadium outfit in the top flight.

Fast forward 12 months and the Foxes are top of the table thanks largely to the arrival of Claudio Ranieri and a team spirit that has not faltered at any point this term.

Looking at it objectively, changes in the personnel from the team that was bottom and the one that is currently top has been minimal.

The clever acquisitions of midfield dynamo N’Golo Kanté and industrious left-back Christian Fuchs have served Leicester well.

However, beyond that it is largely the same team that was fighting relegation a mere 12 months earlier.

The most impressive thing about how Leicester have played this season has been that they have shown no fear.

Ranieri has resorted to a simple 4-4-2 formation and urged his side to be brave; even against the best teams in England and away from home.

Their tactics have been basic but massively effective, with defensive organisation and discipline the bedrock of their success.

Claudio RanieriFrom there, hitting opponents on the counter attack with the pace and penetration of superstar duo Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez has seen the Foxes carve up just about every team they have played again.

Outside this, the side have fought for each other, shirked no challenges and earned their own luck.

Leicester are deserved Premier League leaders and have done the business against the other teams fighting to become champions.

The unfortunate late nature of their defeat to Arsenal last time out was largely facilitated by a reduction to ten men and a share of bad luck.

Outwith this they have won at Tottenham, Everton and Manchester City, beat Liverpool and Chelsea – continuing to defy the doubters.

One of the most remarkable things about their ascent to the top of English football has been the modest amount of money needed to compile a squad that continually exceed expectations.

While all of their rivals and especially the super-wealthy Manchester City and Chelsea splurging tens of millions, Leicester’s squad cost a fraction of the price of that was shelled out on just one of the afore-mentioned clubs’ superstars.

In the current climate, money talks and plays a telling role in dictating successful teams.

As such, just about every neutral that follows the Premier League will surely be urging Leicester to finish the job and do the impossible – become English champions.

Whether Ranieri and his cohort can complete this unfathomable task and remain amongst English football’s elite going forward remains to be seen.

However their achievements to date warm the heart and show that romanticism in football cannot be suffocated by the wealth of the most powerful clubs.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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