Thursday, 10 December 2015

England's Atletico, horses, and more

Leicester City are England's Atletico Madrid

After hugging the foot of the table for much of the campaign and finding themselves with 19 points from 29 matches played, Leicester City gathered 22 points from the final 9 games of last season to seal an incredible survival, and haven't looked back since. These numbers contribute to a total of 54 points gathered from their last 24 matches - title winning form by any manner of judgement.

Is that Nigel Pearson there?

Claudio Ranieri has taken a club promoted last season to a position where there are hushed whispers of a possible title, and the work ethic that defines Simeone's Atletico Madrid is what sees them make headlines week after week for the right reasons. The team's excellence off the ball and on the break has contributed immensely to Jamie Vardy scoring on such an incredible basis, much like the similarly possession-averse Atletico Madrid team helped Diego Costa rack up goals quicker than Messi and Ronaldo at one point. It is inevitable, despite a phenomenal team effort, that individuals get singled out for their performances.

This isn't without reason. Riyad Mahrez has 10 goals and 6 assists from the opening 15 games - already surpassing by far his contribution last season. Jamie Vardy has set a new Premier League record for consecutive matches scored, and is no flat track bully. He put two past Arsenal and scored against Man United as well - two of the division's meanest defences.

Despite a team effort, it's tempting to call them the Vardy Boys (Photo: express.co.uk)

Optimism is rife, but even amidst the cheer in the King Power stadium, they know they'll have to drink it in while it lasts. There is a difference between having quality and having power, as Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund will testify.

Blue, but not bowed

To say it's been a shit start to the season is an understatement.

1. It's worse than shit
2. It's far from a 'start'

But if there is a Will(ian), there is a Way. (Geddit? Geddit?)

Chelsea have conceded one (offside) goal in their last five games in all competitions. This shows signs of renewed defensive solidarity, which is always where recovery must begin. They pressed with intent and energy and looked deadly on the break midweek.

Rescuing Chelsea since the days of Fernando Torres (Photo: chelseanews24.com)

The team will need to follow a similar approach on Monday night to thwart the league leaders and prove that the victory against Porto wasn't another false dawn.

How many horses?

Spurs, having largely flown under the radar, are catching the eye after a 14 game unbeaten run that sees them 6 points off the top. Their position? 5th. While Klopp's Liverpool occupy an unflattering 8th in the table, they are just 9 points off the summit. In between them and the leaders lie Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Crystal Palace and West Ham, who have all failed to take real advantage of convincing champions Chelsea's disastrous start.

It almost feels like no one wants the title.