Leicester City have proved that fairy tales do exist in real life by winning their first ever Premier League title earlier today when Chelsea held Tottenham to a 2-2 draw in Stamford Bridge. With 77 points after 36 game weeks, the Foxes are 7 points ahead of second position Spurs.
Leicester City. Champions of England. pic.twitter.com/WRwfysTn2N
— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 2, 2016
The 2015/16 season of the Barclay’s Premier League has been nothing short of spectacular in terms of unpredictability. The defending champions Chelsea, for instance, are lingering in mid-table. The usual suspects that are Arsenal, Man City, Man United have time and again under-performed. And above all, Leicester City, who barely survived relegation last season, are now Champions of England.
The Foxes could have, of course, won it on Sunday when they played Man United at Old Trafford. But they were held to a 1-1 draw by the 20-time champions. This draw meant that second position Spurs had to win the game at Stamford Bridge at all costs to remain in the title race. And the first half of the game showed similar results too, with Harry Kane & Heung-Min Son making it 0-2 in favor of the Spurs. But Chelsea fought back in the second half with goals from Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard securing a draw for the Blues. And so at full-time, it was one London team denying another of a shot at the title. This draw also means that Leicester can now play their next game at home as champions.
Pundits predicted at the start of the season that Leicester would most likely be one of the teams to be relegated this season. They had only been promoted from the Championship last season and had spent the most of it at the bottom of the table. It was only a sudden surge in form that won them seven of their last nine games that helped them survive. Also at the end of the season, the manager Nigel Pearson had been sacked in favor of Italian Claudio Reineri. Leicester have truly beaten the odds this season. The Foxes’ 2015/16 season will forever be remembered as one of football’s greatest fairy tales.
Just as much a shocker and just as much interesting is the money Leicester have spent on their squad since last summer. The Foxes spent a total of 30 million pounds and their entire current squad is worth 54.4 million pounds. To put things in perspective, Manchester City spent 54 million pounds in their purchase of Kevin De Bruyne alone. The retention of quality players like Jamie Vardy and Riyad Maharez and smart buys in the market, like the French mid-fielder Kanté, have been crucial for Leicester’s title winning season. Quality truly triumphs over quantity here.
Midfielder Riyad Mahrez and striker Jamie Vardy have already been awarded the PFA’s Footballer of the Year award and the Football Writers’ Association award earlier in the season, the first time two players from the same club have won both awards in the same season since Neville Southall and Peter Reid did for Everton in 1985. N’Golo Kanté deserves no less a recognition. The Frenchman is arguably the best transfer of the season and has been crucial in Leicester’s title race. Mahrez, Vardy, and Kanté have all been featured in the PFA team of the year.
This title win is truly a redemption for Claudio Reineri, a manager notorious for experimenting with his squad and who has had his fair share of failures. He has been runner-ups thrice before and has had spells with clubs like Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, and Juventus. His most recent failure was with the Greece International Team from which he was sacked for failing to qualify for EURO 2016. And now he’s led a club that started its season with hopes of avoiding relegation into winning its first ever Premier League title with two games still left to play.
The next season will undoubtedly be tough for Leicester with their first ever Champions League appearance to look forward to. Whether they maintain their current form is yet to be seen. But for the moment, they deserve to celebrate a title they truly deserve in a season that will, without a shred of doubt, inspire all future generations.
[Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images]