Leicester City really can win the Premier league title. And while their rivals toil through fixture congestion, the end is already in sight for the Foxes.
Leicester have 13 games left to play this season. That’s it. No Cups to slip up in, no exhausting European mid-weekers to drain their squad. Thirteen Premier League games in 10 weeks.
This period was supposed to be the true test of their title credentials. A couple of weeks ago I suggested five points would be a good return from Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal. And they’ve already topped that.
Now five points ahead of second-placed Tottenham, the league leaders face Arsenal this Sunday, then their next four games are against teams in the bottom half of the table.
The next time they face another team with Champions Leagues hopes isn’t until a trip to Manchester United at the end of April. Then Claudio Ranieri’s team finish with games against Everton and Chelsea.
Compare all that to the other hopefuls…
Tottenham have a minimum of 16 games to play, which includes league games against City, Arsenal, Liverpool (admittedly not much of a challenge these days) and Manchester United.
But Spurs are a great team, and as such you would expect them to beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fifth round in a couple of weeks to progress to the quarter-finals and ambitiously, hopefully get to the semi-final and final. That would mean another three games.
And this month they also face a two-leg Europa League round of 32 clash with Fiorentina. If they get past the Italians, there is two-leg round of 16 clash. And after that a two-leg quarter-final. And after that, a two-leg semi-final. If they go all the way, that would add another seven games before May 18. The midweek after the end of the Premier League. If Spurs are to have their greatest season ever, they will need to win another 10 games on top of what they’ve already got.
Manchester City have a minimum of 17 games left, which includes away to Spurs next weekend, away to Chelsea in the FA Cup the week after, away to Dynamo Kiev that midweek, followed by a Capital One Cup final with Liverpool four days later. Phew! I’m knackered just writing that. Oh, hang on — then City travel to Anfield in the league the Wednesday after the final. Whaaa…?
If City get past Kiev in the Champions League, they will then have a two leg quarter-final to navigate. Plus, having not beaten any top six teams this season, they also have league games against United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
So just to reiterate… Leicester have 13 games left. That’s it. Against the likes of Norwich, West Brom, Newcastle, Sunderland and Swansea. And they are now five points clear.
The only thing in Leicester’s way now is pressure and doubt. And they really looked scared when they thumped Manchester City …