Written by Alex Baker
The most unlikely of Premier League title races took another dramatic turn this week, as leaders Leicester City’s five-match winning streak was snapped in a 2-2 draw with West Ham United.
While the tie still leaves Leicester five points clear at the top of the standings, the Foxes will now have to make due without leading goal-scorer Jamie Vardy, after the striker shown a second yellow card for diving and sent off early in the second half. The red card means Vardy will miss this weekend’s match at home against Swansea and possibly, next week’s trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
Premier League title races, won and lost, are often defined by a single moment. Leicester fans and the legions of neutrals cheering on this unlikely band of title contenders will be praying Vardy’s red card doesn’t turn out to be the Foxes’ “Steven Gerrard slip.”
With Tottenham Hotspur sitting just five points behind them and suddenly playing like Bayern Munich, Leicester can ill afford another slip, literally or metaphorically speaking. While Claudio Ranieri’s men have been getting results – mostly 1-0 wins and the odd draw now and again – it’s Tottenham who have been the in-form side in England in the closing stages of the season.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side are on a six-match undefeated streak that’s seen them shred Manchester United 3-0 and earlier this week, destroy Stoke City 4-0. Spurs’ remaining fixtures – West Brom at home, Chelsea away, Southampton at home and Newcastle away – look infinitely winnable.
Leicester City meanwhile, have what looks like a more difficult run-in with Swansea at home this weekend followed by Manchester United away, Everton at home and Chelsea away on the last day of the season.
What seemed unthinkable just a week or so ago – Leicester dropping enough points to allow the title to slip from their grasp – suddenly seems not entirely out of the question. The Foxes situation is made all the more precarious by the absence of Vardy, their leading goal-scorer and talisman.
This most fascinating of Premier League title races, in which we’ve seen the usual contenders – Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Manchester City – crumble one after the other, looks set to go down to the wire. From now until the end of the season, it will be a two-team tussle between Tottenham, a team that last won the title in 1961, and Leicester, a team that’s never won it in its entire history.
(Photos by ISI)