A season of two halves as Leicester keep things tight
The weekend’s Premier League action saw Leicester produce another performance of potential champions with a 1-0 win away at Crystal Palace, and it was the latest result to showcase the Foxes’ resolute defence.
On their 18th league game of the campaign, the Foxes lost 1-0 away at Liverpool on Boxing Day, and though they topped the table, the 25 goals conceded was not indicative of champions.
At that point, Leicester had kept just three clean sheets – all against sides now in the bottom seven – and owned the league’s 14th-worst defence.
Claudio Ranieri’s men were on course to concede 50 goals across the season, something no side had ever done in a title-winning year with the most in a 38-game campaign being 45 by Man United in 1999-2000.
Since Christian Benteke’s winner on Boxing Day however, Leicester have kept an incredible nine clean sheets in 13 league games, including four of the last five.
Early in the season Ranieri joked that when they eventually did keep a clean sheet, it would be pizzas all round, but we fancy the Italian has been made to eat his words along with many pepperoni slices recently.
Up front the goals have dried up a tad, with the Foxes firing in just over two goals a game until they they returned from Anfield, compared to 1.3 goals per match since then, and Jamie Vardy has ceded the golden boot race to Harry Kane for the time being.
But a succession of 1-0 wins in recent weeks has shown even the harshest cynics that Leicester are increasingly equipped with what is required to become English champions and the east Midlands side are 8/13 favourites to complete this sporting fairytale.
What must also be factored in to this story is that for the early part of the campaign, the Foxes were adapting to life under a new manager, with all their title rivals handed the luxury of managerial continuity heading into this season.
Ranieri was a defender in his playing days however, and during his spell at Chelsea the Blues never conceded more than a goal a game on average across a season.
It may have taken the Italian boss a little longer than he would have liked to get his Leicester team tight at the back, but since the turn of the year he’s created a side as resolute at one end of the pitch as it has been potent at the other.
Now that’s a Premier League-winning team.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.