Where did it all go right for flying Foxes in greatest escape?
Leicester City’s extraordinary Premier League turnaround is complete, as they are assured of safety with one game to go following their goalless draw with Sunderland at the weekend.
It is fair to say that the East Midlands outfit have had tough season after being promoted as Championship winners the previous campaign, with Nigel Pearson getting much of the criticism. However, the Foxes have survived the media hunt and drop against all the odds.
Pearson and his team can certainly take their heads out of the sand and raise them up high after what they have achieved, when they were all-but dead and buried back on April 3rd being seven points from safety.
Despite a barrage of criticism aimed his way, largely due to his bizarre ostrich rant to a journalist and strange strangle on Crystal Palace’s James McArthur mid-match, Pearson steered his side to six wins in their following eight matches, losing just once.
Relive both incidents…
Following their confirmed survival, the manager bluntly said: “There will always be doubts about managers. I may have intensified one or two storms, but I work the way I work, and you can either like me or lump me.
“I think the key thing for us is that even in our darkest moments, and there have been a few, the players have continued to support each other and believe in their own ability. That’s difficult when people are questioning your integrity.”
It seems that Leicester’s remarkable run also coincided with keeper Kasper Schmeichel’s return from injury. The Danish stopper fractured his foot mid-season, with his side losing eight of the 12 matches he was not in the squad for, but standout performances in net certainly put confidence back into the Foxes.
Leicester’s fantastic form began at home to West Ham United on April 4th, with Andy King netted a late winner in a 2-1 victory, after another driving force in the Foxes’ success, Esteban Cambiasso, scored an early opener.
At that point, still no one would have expected what was to come. Another late finish in the next match at West Bromwich Albion followed, with January loan signing Robert Huth heading home an 80th minute equaliser before Jamie Vardy’s excellent individual effort in injury time saw his side claim three points.
More straightforward wins against Swansea City and Burnley came immediately after that, with a loss to eventual champions Chelsea sandwiched between two more relatively easy victories over Newcastle United and Southampton.
But the moment that all Leicester fans were waiting for came in the penultimate game of the season with fellow relegation-threatened side Sunderland. A 0-0 draw, again with Schmeichel showing his star quality, ensured the golden point and thus safety from the drop.
Another highlight in their stunning season was the famous 5-3 win over Manchester United early on in the campaign, which was part of their spirited run in the first five matches where they lost just once. In those fixtures, they also beat Stoke City and drew with Everton and Arsenal.
Relive the highlights of the win over Man Utd…
No doubt Pearson and his team will savour their success for the following days, but they can surely build on their triumph.
There will be a summer of activity for sure, with Pearson hoping to tie down another contract for class act Cambiasso, a permanent deal for Stoke-owned Huth and hold onto other star names.
The likes of Schmeichel, Vardy and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez will be in high demand following impressive displays this term, but surely Leicester’s combined Houdini act will be enough to keep most of their players together?
Betting tip – Leicester beat QPR and both teams score at 2/1