I’m a nice fellow, I don’t sit here wasting your time with a clickbait title, to have you scroll through a piece of writing only to discover that it came up with one of two outcomes, I’ve already given you the answer in the title, which means that you are here to find out why Leicester City won’t win the Premier League.
The reason the title of this piece isn’t ‘can’ Leicester City win the title, is because of course they can win the title. As incredibly unlikely as it may be, Liverpool can still win the title, however we all know that it won’t happen. That’s the case with Leicester, they can win the title but in reality they won’t.
I’ll start off by saying that the teams which realistically can win the title are Leicester, Spurs, Arsenal and Man City, teams like West Ham and Man Utd could also and probably would win the title if they were to win out to the end of the season, however this is highly improbable.
If you look at the remaining eleven fixtures which Leicester have to face they are pretty favourable (West Brom H, Watford A, Newcastle H, Palace A, Southampton H, Sunderland A, West Ham H, Swansea H, Man Utd A, Everton H & Chelsea A). Leicester don’t have to face any of their title rivals in the run in, something which can’t be said for the other three teams, sounds great! In reality it is the worst case scenario for a team like Leicester.
The simple fact is that Leicester are a long ball counter attacking team, they hit teams with pace after winning the ball back with quick and aggressive pressing, which is then generally turned into a long ball to Vardy who runs into the space left by the oppositions defence and a goal, the quintessential Leicester goal, and a perfect way to play teams when they expect to beat you and control the game.
This is where the problem arises, teams are now going to go into a game against Leicester thinking a draw is a good result and will hence play for one, with the hope they might snatch a goal on the counter. Chances are in these games Leicester will see more of the ball than they have throughout the season, creating the new problem that players who are great at breaking down play (Kante, Drinkwater, Okazaki), stiff backs to the wall defending (Morgan, Huth) or utilising space in behind (Vardy) aren’t suited to this type of football at all. Leicester will be totally reliant on Mahrez for creation, who has had a great season generally but hasn’t been as good as he was in the first half of the year.
The only teams who are unlikely to allow Leicester to play with the ball are West Ham, Man Utd, Chelsea and Everton, and they play Leicester in four of their last five games, possibly too late as the momentum may have been killed by then.
As you can maybe tell, I don’t think that Leicester will go into their last three games as title contenders, however if they do they couldn’t really have picked three worse fixtures. Two of the hardest away games in the league and one of the best attacking forces who tend to be a bogey team for title contenders at the end of the season. If Leicester go into these three games and get any more than four points I would truly be amazed, which may seem odd after I said they set up well against teams who expect to beat you.
This leads me onto my next point, expectations. Expectations are one of the most over looked things in football, and it is something which has totally been overlooked with Leicester this season. If at the start of the season you had offered a Leicester fan to stay up, they would have snatched your hand off, they would probably have sec with their own mother to finish 5th. The thing is that if you were to offer a Leicester fan 5th now they would definitely turn their nose up at it.
Watch the Norwich game and you will see not only my first point about a change in how teams play, but more importantly you will see the way in which the crowd was incredibly nervous before Leicester scored their late winner. At home to Norwich is now a must win, but more so than that, it is now a guaranteed win in the mind of the fans.
It isn’t however just the fans who have changed their expectations, it’s the media and other fans too, and this is probably the bigger dagger for Leicester City. Nobody thought Leicester had a chance a month ago, now the bandwagoners have jumped on and the team would be criticised for dropping away because expectations have been increased with their lofty league position and the pressure is now unmeasurable.
If you want an example of how expectations can affect a team who are out of position for their general quality, you need look no further than Liverpool a couple of season ago. Everyone kept saying that they would drop away, but they didn’t. Everyone said that once they play City with four games to go that will be the end of the dream, but they won that match and the dream seemed very much alive. Everyone then said they had won the league, and when you looked at their run in you couldn’t help but agree, a home tie against a reserve Chelsea team, Palace away and Newcastle at home, seemed like a given they would finally lift the Premier League title, but in the end that expectation was too much for them and they blew it and slipped from the top of the table. Leicester’s last three games are much harder than Liverpool’s were, and Liverpool also had a better team.
Leicester will have the least amount of games to play between now and the end of the season of all the title contenders which should play perfectly into their hands. Leicester barely rotate their first eleven, so the lack of games works in their favour. It isn’t fair to say that injuries could play a big part in their run in because Leicester haven’t had any real injury problems all season, however the squad depth is pitiful and an injury to a Kante, Mahrez or Vardy could very much derail their push for the title substantially.
It should also be noted that Leicester is a team of misfits and has beens, players who were considered too shit for teams like Aston Villa and guys who have played most of their careers in the lower leagues, it is really quite a story, but will these players have that required cutting edge and winning mentality? You really can’t say until it actually happens, but I would have my doubts.
I could easily sit here and work out what I think each team’s final points tally will be, but realistically there will be many twists and turns left in this season. I shall however point to two things, the first one being that I think Leicester are more likely to finish outside the top four than win the league and that nobody ten games ago saw Crystal Palace being dragged into a relegation battle.
This whole post will seem very harsh and Leicester and that is how it should come across. People tend to get carried away in the glorious fairy-tale that is Leicester City’s season, but things such as a change in the way teams play them, a small squad and the pressure from the vastly increased expectation on these inexperienced players say that they will ultimately not finish the season with an unlikely title, momentum can only last so long.
If I were to pick the team most likely to win the league with eleven games to go, it would be Spurs. Spurs have been by far the most impressive team this season, playing nice football and doing it all with a really young team of hungry players, they deserve it more than anyone else. In the event of Spurs doing a Spurs, then I think the next most likely would be Man City, who would win it by default, a la 2013-14.
Leicester winning the Premier League would be the thing of fairy tales, and I hate to be the guy who kicks Jack off the beanstalk and arrests Goldilocks for breaking and entering but this is reality, and reality says that Leicester will not win the Premier League, please go ahead and prove me wrong.
So tell me why Leicester won’t win the league or for those who are lacking in general common sense please tell me why you think Leicester will be crowned champions by the end of the season, I enjoy a good chuckle now and again.