Tottenham host bitter rivals Arsenal in what looms to be another enthralling North London derby early Monday morning (AEST) as both sides continue their fight for the remaining European places.
Claudio Ranieri’s career has seen a slew of failed mini-tenures mixed in with some moderate success. However, with his latest exploits as the King of Leicester City he is attempting to ruin every single precedent ever set in English football.
This madman will attempt to bring the velvet curtain crashing down – last Sunday he drove a flaming longsword into the heart of the Aston Villa hydra with a fantastic, scintillating and big-hearted comeback to win 3-2.
Leicester are now second in the table, on 11 points. They have scored 11 goals so far, the same amount as Manchester City. It’s a side that most tipped to struggle, most tipped to fail, with a well experienced failure organising a failure of a campaign.
People are afraid at the moment. In Stoke, on a cold autumn night, people put out dream-catchers, clutch silver crucifixes with sweaty hands and sleep with their lights on. Why?
They are afraid of a cruel Fanged Demon known only as Riyad Mahrez breaking into their house in the darkness of midnight and terrorising them. He will then proceed to beat the living hell out of them on the pitch on September 20.
The saying goes ‘but can he do it on a cold rainy night in Stoke?’. My prediction is that Leicester will arrive pumped with adrenaline, maybe after listening to Puccini’s masterpiece Tosca and weeping as they run out onto the field full of pure passion.
It is hard to see any other way that a team could play with so much character. Ranieri has hailed them as a fantastic group.
“I love these players because of this character. They never, ever give up. That’s the spirit that I want,” he said.
But who has done it for them? Who injected a vial of green horse steroids into each of their aortas? I can provide maybe three answers.
The Fanged Demon Riyad Mahrez
The rise of this raging elemental winger is completely insane. He has been one of the finest players in the league so far, making people like Eden Hazard look a category below him. This fiend was bought for £750,000 last year. Pocket change.
Claudio Ranieri himself
The calculating Italian has had tenures at Chelsea, Juventus, Valencia, Inter and as the Greek national coach (he lost at home to the Faroe Islands). None of them were particularly successful – or ever lasted a long period of time.
Maybe his mind has finally snapped, harbouring vengeful intentions – will he smash all apart like splitting coconuts, proceeding to drink the juice? It certainly seems this way. We have been waiting for his masterpiece for over a decade now.
Will it arrive awkwardly in Leicester City, steering them into the Champions League or even comfortable mid-table? What a revelation. His appointment was initially questioned. People said he was a boring, stale choice. He has proved he is anything but.
Vardy has scored three times in five games and seems to be about to unfurl a crimson campaign of goalscoring. He is aggressive, a real brute on the pitch who plays hardcore – spitting venom and requiring pure oxygen at the end of a game in a bid to calm him down. If this does not succeed, rumour has it that there is a large rusty iron cage Leicester keep underneath their stadium.
But in truth it has not just been these three players. It has been the whole vengeful group.
They have a fetish for scoring goals. It must get them off. 4-2 at home to Sunderland, 1-2 win away at the Hammers and finally the 3-2 glorious victory against Villa.
Tim Sherwood reportedly curled himself up into a ball in the visitor’s changing room post-game and began weeping aggressively, breathing heavily… only spluttering the name Dyer… Dyer… Dyer with increased intensity. Apologetic Aston Villa players struggled to console him.
They have made some inspired signings, namely Shinji Okazaki and Nathan Dyer. They have a complete team. A fine goalkeeper in Kasper Schmeichel.
This insane bunch of junkies are still unbeaten, which is scary and they are only gathering more violent momentum, confidence growing from each game. I can imagine them knocking on the doos of teams like Chelsea or Tottenham soon, wielding a shotgun and a bodybag, blowing them to bloody smithereens.
Maybe what we’re seeing is that there are no more flashes in the pan. Maybe Leicester City is all about something bigger. The monopoly of the big teams ending? It’s hard to predict at this stage, but with teams like Stoke, Southampton, Everton, Swansea and West Ham all rising rapidly but most importantly sustaining success, I am sure people like Mr. Abramovich are very afraid.
Majority of teams in the league seem now to favour an attacking style – the bottom feeders seem to have realised that defending has not gotten them anywhere and they might as well give the big boys a run for their money. It’s coming off too.
It’s true these clubs have a lot more money now than two seasons ago, due to that gigantic, voluptuous television deal. Signings like Salomon Rondon to West Brom or Xherdan Shaqiri to Stoke, even maybe Yohan Cabaye to Crystal Palace would never have happened a few years ago.
There is a growing financial muscle and depth in the league that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.
The nature of the English Premier League will change dramatically by the end of the season. It will be almost unrecognisable in my opinion. Yes, Manchester City may run away with the title, but the idea of an ‘established top four’ will be done away with.
I have an ominous feeling that this will force teams next year – the big teams I mean – to press the big red button. Nuke them all. The spending we once thought was big, will be dwarfed. I see billions of pounds being spent in the next few seasons. With financial fair play being relaxed, big clubs could really let their pockets go.
The Italian has come back certainly to complete his masterpiece. Each game foaming at the mouth from the touchline, adjusting his glasses to watch his team smash the spines of the opposition with more precision.