Outfoxing them all, for now

From avoiding relegation to fighting for the championship in 12 months marks an incredible turnaround for Foxes
By Neil Halligan
Thu 11 Feb 2016 08:55 AM

The Premier League has been interesting this season, and if the results keep following the same pattern, it could well be the best ever.

When England's top tier started to create a whole new history for itself in 1992, and ushered in a money-laden era redefined by satellite TV stations, the loftier positions in the table began to take a familiar pattern, occupied by four of the country's most well-known or richest clubs in the land.

That was until this season, when the lowly Leicester went from avoiding relegation to fighting for the championship inside 12 months, marking an incredible turnaround for club known as the Foxes.

The turnaround in fortunes is such that I heard a well-known football pundit suggest this week that if Leicester manage to win their match away to Arsenal this weekend, they could have the title wrapped up in time, before they face ‘difficult games’ away to Manchester United and Chelsea in two of their three final games.

Quite conceivable based on current form, but highly unlikely I’ll be brave enough to suggest.

There are, it must be pointed out still 13 games to go for the league leaders – one third of the season. They have also managed to use a relatively low amount of players - 20 – and have avoided any serious injury to key their players, like Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Drinkwater, who have played in nearly all of their Premier League games this season.

They have defied many people’s prediction to fall away as the most extraordinary of all seasons unfolds. They survived the dreaded Christmas mayhem, where fixtures practically roll one into each other, and emerged on top.

Now five points clear of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, they could edge even further ahead after this weekend, with fourth-placed Manchester City hosting Spurs. But I think despite playing the best football of any team in the league right now, their thin squad will became a major factor as the remainder of the season unfolds.

So if not Leicester, then who?

The contenders - Arsenal, Spurs and Man City, I think Even with 13-odd games to go, Man United are too far back and too inconsistent to challenge.

The North London rivalry is fascinating. Arsenal have in recent years been on top, but Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino are a different side. Confident, in form and winning games by the odd goal, this is their best chance. Big games at home to Arsenal, Man United and away to Liverpool and Chelsea will decide where they finish up.

Arsenal look to be at the end of a bad run after their win over Bournemouth last weekend. Injuries haven't helped their title challenge, but Arsene Wenger has a squad good enough to go on a run between now and their final game at home to Aston Villa on May 15.

Man City have the best squad, but have some big injury concerns, including team captain and leader, Vincent Kompany, who looks to set to return against Spurs this weekend.

With three months of action left, it's still hard to tell who will emerge on top in mid-May, but I think it will fall between the two established title challengers, Arsenal and Man City, with Abu Dhabi likely to be celebrating again ahead of Pep Guardiola's arrival in June.

Prediction:

1. Man City

2. Arsenal

3. Spurs

4. Leicester

*Man United were originally predicted as coming fourth, but after their defeat to Sunderland, they look like they'll be lucky to finish in the Europa League spot.

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