Leicester hosts Norwich this Saturday afternoon, and we take a look at the five most obvious points which assumes that the Foxes will remain at the top of the table after this round.
Playing Great Against the Bottom Dwellers
Leicester had extremely tight schedule over the last two months, as the club played twice against Manchester City and Liverpool alongside Arsenal and Tottenham in their last nine Premier League matches after Christmas and despite that they had come out with more than great results from those fixtures.
The optimism has grown even bigger now as the Foxes will play their next five games against clubs from the bottom half of the points table and this has given them an opportunity to “feel comfortable” for the first time since the start of the season. With relatively easy matches ahead, the prospects for Claudio Ranieri’s side maintaining an upper hand over the course of next month are even brighter. The “King Power Stadium” outfit have bagged sixteen out of the maximum eighteen points against clubs, currently being outside the top eight (5-1-0).
Bournemouth (x2) and Aston Villa, currently languishing at the bottom half of the table are only two clubs who were able to take points from Leicester as all three of those matches ended up in a draw. The statistics also reveal that the league leaders are still unbeaten in this type of games.
2. Thirteen Days Break Since the Last Game Played
The strength and the physical preparation that Leicester is showing this season is more than impressive, as Ranieri has named the same starting eleven in the last six Premier League games in a row. Despite some great preparation and excellent fitness of the players, the pressing schedule always causes some fatigue which was evident in the last three games Foxes played against Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal within a span of twelve days. This is beyond any doubt that thirteen days in a row without a single match is great news for the Italian boss and his players to restore both physically and mentally after the great battles they had recently.
3. Goal Scoring Machines are Working Fine
There is no question about who the two biggest stars at King Power Stadium are, as Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are both making a spectacular season thus far. The English International has already registered a record for consecutive goals in the Premier League (11) and with 19 goals and five assists, he is the top scorer in the league. The Algerian winger, on the other hand, has also shown his class and metal by scoring 14 goals and 10 assists.
However, there was a period between Matchday 18 and 22 when none of them either scored or assisted. Keeping their influence in mind, it is no surprise that Leicester won just once (1-3-1) during this period. However, just before the long break both Vardy and Mahrez returned to their usual top form as the former Sheffield Wednesday netted the ball on four occasions while the Algerian contributed made his presence felt with one goal and three assists in the last four fixtures.
4. Tight Schedule for the Rivals
At this stage of the campaign, Arsenal and Tottenham are the two rivals who can dislodge Leicester from the top position, but this is no inferior good news for the Foxes that both London clubs unlike them are facing tough schedule ahead.
The Gunners, after losing (0-2) at home to Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League last sixteen round faces another huge test when they visit Old Trafford on Wednesday. Arsene Wenger’s side have collected only two points from their last eight Premier League games against the Red Devils (0-2-6).
For Tottenham, the situation looks even harder, as they will play as many as three games in the period when Leicester will be having a break. Spurs played a 1:1 draw against Fiorentina in Italy for the Europa League before being knocked out from the FA Cup by Crystal Palace on Saturday and are scheduled to host the Italian side this Thursday in the second leg of the Europa League round of 32, this time at White Hart Lane.
Mauricio Pochettino likes to rotate his squad a lot in the different competitions, and this will still be the case on Sunday when they host Swansea for the fourth game in ten days.
5. Norwich in Awful Form
Norwich is playing horrible football right now, and it looks like Leicester could not have a better opponent for this weekend. The Canaries did end their run of six consecutive defeats in all competitions two weeks ago when they played a 2:2 draw against West Ham. However, the match exposed their unstable defending, as the club blew away two goals lead in just two minutes time and could have easily lost all three points. Before taking that point, Norwich had lost six in all competition in a row, conceding the incredible nineteen goals in those fixtures and there is no question that with that defence, Vardy, Mahrez and co. should have plenty of chances of keeping Leicester at the top of the table.