Beyond the Bison: New man in charge

Graphic by Ellen O'Donnell, Graphics Manager

Doug Hendry, Senior Editor

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All sports fans love a good upset—an underdog coming from the depths of the standings to surpass any expectations that were placed on them. We are seeing exactly that and more in the Premier League this season, with Leicester City leading the league with eight games left in their schedule.

Their improbable run to the top has resulted from 17 wins, three losses, and nine draws, but this comes just one year after they barely survived the brink of relegation. Last season, Leicester finished in 14th place, just six points away from being sent down a division. Now, at the beginning of this season, Leicester had 5000-1 odds of winning the Premier League.

And how have they defied those odds? They’ve surpassed the teams who often find themselves in the top four–Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Arsenal. Those four teams have combined for 42 total first-place finishes through the years in the top division, and yet Leicester is in a position to deservedly earn their first.

What makes this season’s success even more surprising is how Leicester has been able to reach the top of the standings with a much smaller budget than other clubs. It’s been a wonder how they’ve been able to compete with some of the larger-budget clubs, but Leicester lets their play on the field do the talking.

Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are the two main players who have helped this club reach elite status. Vardy took the Premier League by storm in the first half of the season, scoring in his first game versus Sunderland and never looking back. The forward broke the league record for goals in consecutive goals, tallying scores in 11 straight contests spanning a period of three months. Now, the golden boy for the Foxes leads the league with 19 goals.

Mahrez, on the other hand, is an easy pick for the most valuable player of the Premier League. The midfielder has controlled the pace of the game throughout the season, allowing Leicester to orchestrate the way they want to play the game. With 15 goals and 11 assists, Mahrez leads the league in points, and will be the biggest reason that Leicester finishes atop the Premier League table.

In one of the best leagues in the world, a newcomer has stated its case to be named among the elite. With 60 points, Leicester is five ahead of Tottenham in second and eight above Arsenal in third as they head into the final stretch. Their 52 goals lead the Barclays Premier League (BPL), and despite the doubters predicting that Leicester would falter, they never have. The championship is theirs to lose at this point.

And with that, they have most of the fans backing them in the process. Unless your team is near the top of the standings, most likely you have enjoyed watching Leicester excel and are excited by the prospect of having new blood compete, hopefully for years to come.

Will it continue? While it’s been unexpected to see Leicester in their top-ranked position, it should come as no surprise if they continue to fight for it in the years to come.

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