The Premier League’s current top four, Leicester City, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham, all play each other this Sunday on a weekend that could go a long way to deciding the destination of the title.
Leicester City’s extraordinary 3-1 win over Manchester City at the Etihad last weekend saw them open up a five point lead at the top of the English Premier League. The latest and greatest achievement from Claudio Ranieri’s side; theirs is arguably the greatest surprise story in the history of the English top flight – and now only thirteen games remain between The Foxes and the title, with Arsenal at the Emirates up next.
The club have no other cup commitments and can focus fully on their league campaign, much like the Liverpool side of 2013/14 which came so close to securing the title. Claudio Ranieri’s side are playing without fear, clearly enjoying their rise to prominence. The likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have excelled this season beyond all expectations, and it is poignant that their once leaky defence is starting to solidify, with five clean sheets in their last seven.
Arsenal can close the gap to just two points on the weekend with a win over The Foxes, but with one win in their last five, Arsene Wenger has a problem. The form of star midfielder Mesut Ozil has dropped, leaving his side struggling for goals. The Gunners failed to convincingly see off Bournemouth in their last game, winning 2-0 but owing plenty to keeper Petr Cech for keeping the newly promoted side at bay. The club are also still in the cup and Champions League and need to find their rhythm once again or the league title could slip away.
Tottenham, who travel to Manchester City on Sunday, have quietly gone about their business, with Leicester stealing all the headlines, and find themselves in second place with the best defensive record in the league with only 19 goals conceded in 25 games. They’ve lost only three games all season and have won their last four to overtake both City and Arsenal. However, manager Mauricio Pochettino will be wary of the potential fatigue on his young squad brought on by committing to other competitions, with Spurs still in both the FA Cup and Europa League.
In Sergio Aguero, Manchester City have the most lethal striker in the league, with the Argentine scoring seven in his last five. But it is their defence that has cost them so far. The absence of Vincent Kompany has been telling, with the club already on six losses for the season.
The announcement that Pep Guardiola will be taking over in the summer may take a toll on the squad, who will feel the pressure of still being in four competitions both at home and abroad. They remain Leicester’s main challengers at the top, purely because they are the only club in the top four to have won the Premier League in recent years, with their last title coming two seasons ago. That know-how will be so crucial, but will it be enough?