Leicester are dark horses but don't fear the Manchester clubs or Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers has moulded a team capable of repeating the 2016 league triumph
Leicester are dark horses but don't fear the Manchester clubs or Liverpool

Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel celebrates a win.

LAST WEDNESDAY morning, Leicester City were sitting proudly at the head of affairs in the race for the Premiership title.

That was in the aftermath of their splendid victory over Chelsea on Tuesday night, a loss that intensified the pressure of Chelsea boss Frank Lampard as he struggles to reignite a side that were being talked up as title contenders not that long ago.

Within 24 hours, the situation at the top changed again, with Man United and City winning, but we have been down this road before with Leicester City when they reached the summit five years ago and subsequently went on to win the title when Tottenham Hotspur could not match their endeavours in the run-in.

Last season, Leicester were going great guns too in their bid for a top-four place only to slip up at the death when Manchester United overtook them.

However, anybody who has studied Brendan Rodgers' team over the past number of weeks in the most fascinating Premiership for many a long day will have seen a found maturity in the side.

The side may not contain the marquee names of some of those challenging them for the title but there is a spirit aligned to that maturity which now catapults them into the category of real contenders.

They are a real threat going forward, there is a resoluteness about them at the back in front of a terrific goalkeeper in Kasper Schmeichel. In Jamie Vardy, they have a world-class player and that’s a term you would not use lightly but he has shown over and over again since his arrival from Fleetwood that his transfer was one of best bits of business ever done in English football.

His pace and ability to get in behind defences carries a major threat in every game and how English boss Gareth Southgate must wish that he had not opted out of international football. 

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy shoots during the Premier League match at The King Power Stadium. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire.
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy shoots during the Premier League match at The King Power Stadium. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire.

But this is far from being a one-man show and two other players who have caught the eye recently are James Justin and Harvey Barnes, two more homegrown players over there.

Justin has been excellent at full-back while Barnes is firing home some huge goals and surely destined to figure in Southgate’s plans.

Then there’s James Maddison, a player who has really come to the forefront in recent times and the scorer of big goals in big games too.

Johnny Evans' experience at the heart of the defence is another huge factor and he is showing how Manchester United got it wrong when they released him a few years ago. 

Give me Evans over Victor Lindelof any day.

Of course, steering the drive is one of the best managers in the business, Brendan Rogers.

He may not have won the title with Liverpool, very unluckily not to have done so and at Celtic, his record speaks for itself.

He talks sensibly at interviews and is one manager that is getting the most out of his players.

Of course, he’s playing down their title credentials, didn’t Claudio Rainieri do the exact same five years ago.

So can they win the title again? This current side is probably better than the one that previously lifted the title against all the odds.

However, in a campaign like no other, the tendency would be to suggest that Leicester will be up against it as the season really gets into overdrive.

Manchester City look the likelier contenders and anyone who is dismissing Liverpool after their recent slump is doing so at their peril.

Manchester United got a good point at Anfield but lacked the belief to really go for it when Liverpool were there for the taking.

But they should have won it because they squandered the two best chances of the game. Maybe they’ll rectify matters at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

Just eight points separate the top seven on the league table, from United down to West Ham. When was that the case before?

The battle for the top four is going to be some battle and even Jurgen Klopp admitted that Liverpool’s priority at this point in time was to get a top-four spot. That they will do and maybe retain the title again if their strike force fires again.

At this juncture, in time nothing can be ruled in and nothing can be ruled out.

Look where West Ham are right now compared to previous campaigns and it’s finally clicking again for David Moyes.

Not so, however, for Steve Bruce at Newcastle and the portents are not good for one of the game’s real good guys.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more