It’s been another incredible week of Premier League football. Manchester United scored two, yes two, first half goals, and Fraser Forster’s brilliant individual performance almost singlehandedly won Southampton a point at Arsenal. But undoubtedly, the week belonged to Leicester City.
For the past three months, we have heard a lot of pundits tell us that Leicester will fall away. It is now February, and there are only 13 games left this season. They are still top of the table. On Tuesday, Jamie Vardy’s incredible season continued by scoring both goals in the Foxes’ 2-0 over Liverpool, the first of which particularly special, a dipping volley over Simon Mignolet from over 25 yards out.
I think most of us, including myself, made it to Saturday expecting Manchester City to record a comfortable win over Leicester. Instead, we saw one of the finest away performances in Premier League history, and probably the best I have seen since Chelsea won 1-0 at the Etihad in Jose Mourinho’s first season back at Chelsea. Claudio Ranieri’s side were brilliant, and nobody would have argued if they had won 5-1.
I think for the first time in well over a decade, there is a team who almost every fan in the country want to win the league. They have put together a group of such down to earth footballers, who play the game in the right way that entertains the neutral, and they’re the underdog, and everybody loves an underdog. There is only one reason I don’t want Leicester to win the league- Gary Lineker. The guy already loves himself; imagine what he’d be like on Match of the Day if they won the league.
The week started with a bang before a ball was even kicked, no not deadline day that was a complete let down, but with Manchester City’s announcement that Pep Guardiola would become their new manager in the summer. This actually came as very little shock to anyone, as Man City was really the only club he was ever going to join. Personally, I don’t really think he’s a great manager yet, given that I could have won the treble with that Barcelona side, and my dog could have won the league with that Bayern Munich side.
We may finally have seen the end of Everton’s underachieving, as for the first time this season; they have won consecutive Premier League games. For a side that includes the likes of Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu, they should be challenging for the Champions League places, not languishing in mid table. You’d like to think that they’ve finally clicked and are ready to climb the table.
It was a poor week for Liverpool on all fronts, first beaten by Leicester on Tuesday thanks to Jamie Vardy’s double, then letting slip a two goal lead at home to Sunderland. This game also saw another shocking error from Simon Mignolet. Firstly, he has set the wall out five yards outside the post, so only one man was in a position to make the block, and even then, he should make the save. He really hasn’t been good enough this season, and this isn’t helped by the poor defensive work of the men in front of him.
I think all of football stands with the Liverpool fans in their protest against ridiculously high ticket prices. At £77, there is no way we can attract younger fans to matches. If we want our fans to be the type of people who bring posh sandwiches from Waitrose and come out five minutes late for the second half, then go ahead, charge £77. But if you want fans who create a good atmosphere and get behind their team, charge a realistic price. With the ridiculous amount of money coming into the Premier League next season through the new TV deal, clubs can easily change less than £30 and still be well off.
On the European front, Real Madrid won, Barcelona won and PSG won, in other news the sky is blue. For Gary Neville, it was another defeat for his Valencia side. One in the Copa Del Rey against Barca, embarrassingly 7-0, something which Neville has previously said would mean he couldn’t look his family in the eye. The defeat on Sunday meant it was eight league games without a win. Sadly, I doubt that he will be in the job for much longer.
We seem to have a shortage of football coming up in the next week, with only two FA Cup fourth round replays before the Premier League returns on Saturday. Sunday will be Leicester’s biggest challenge yet, and a win away at Arsenal might win them the Premier League.
Everyone in football is now rooting for the Foxes.