Can Brendan Rodgers’ boys make it into next season’s UEFA Champions League? Of course they can…
Leicester City v Chelsea, Saturday 1 February, 12pm, BT Sport 1 HD (CH 527)
Leicester City love upsetting the Premier League applecart. After all, who can forget their improbable title triumph in 2016? Now, with a top-four spot in their sights, they’re at it again. You almost feel sorry for the established top-flight hierarchy. Almost.
The Foxes return to action on BT Sport this weekend at the King Power Stadium, where a win against Chelsea would give their hopes of UEFA Champions League qualification a major boost. But with some serious opposition snapping at their heels, can they keep their cool and book a place among Europe’s elite next season?
Here are five reasons which say they most definitely can…
Jamie Vardy’s still having a party
A contender for this season’s Golden Boot, Leicester’s main man is still doing the business at the highest level. Already among the top 30 goalscorers in Premier League history (he’s recently overtaken the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dimitar Berbatov and, erm, Yakubu), Vardy could earn a return to the England fold ahead of Euro 2020 after effectively retiring from international football in 2018. Don’t write him off.
No Europe? No problem
While their top-four rivals are all involved in European competition like a bunch of chumps, Leicester don’t have to worry about such distractions. The Foxes are able to focus the majority of their energy on the Premier League and their quest for UEFA Champions League qualification. So, when the teams around them are huffing and puffing towards the finish line, Leicester will be fresher for that final push. At least that’s the hope.
Brendan knows what he’s doing
In Brendan Rodgers, Leicester have a manager who is known to dabble in a bit of cod-philosophy not too dissimilar from that practised by David Brent. But his occasionally self-inflated musings can be forgiven, because he’s also an astute tactician who players clearly love fighting for. Thanks to his time at Liverpool, Rodgers is more than familiar with the cut and thrust of the Premier League’s upper reaches. This isn’t new terrain for him. Leicester are in very safe hands.
Their rivals are reeling
Let’s just assume Liverpool and Manchester City will finish in the top four, because football. When it comes to the other runners and riders vying for those final spots, however, it’s fair to say consistency hasn’t been a common theme among them. Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United have all struggled to string consecutive wins together this season. Meanwhile, Leicester’s impressive run of eight victories on the bounce earlier in the campaign signals they’re more than capable of finding their groove.
Defence! Defence! Defence!
“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles,” claimed Sir Alex Ferguson. And while Leicester aren’t technically gunning for the Premier League crown, their stellar defensive record puts them in a prime position to at least clinch a top-four spot. The Foxes have been mean as you like this season, with Kasper Schmeichel, Jonny Evans, Cağlar Söyüncü and others making Leicester a formidable prospect.
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