FOXES MOVE INTO BOX SEAT
With West Ham and Chelsea squaring off last Saturday, there were always going to be dropped points from somewhere and although Liverpool failed to take full advantage of such a scenario, Leicester certainly did.
While although they had to come from behind against Crystal Palace on Monday night, Brendan Rodgers’ men collected three incredibly important points and in doing so, they now find themselves lying relatively comfortably in third.
That relative comfort comes courtesy of a seven-point advantage over West Ham in fifth and as things stand, the 2016 Premier League winners look set for a return to the Champions League next season.
With that said, there is every chance that Leicester may need each one of those seven points and the reason for this, is because their last five league outings constitutes an incredibly tough run-in – or at least it does on paper.
The Foxes still must travel to both Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge next month and this will undoubtedly present two incredibly tough fixtures for Brendan Rodgers and his hungry group of players.
With that said, there could and should be a saving grace for Leicester in all of this and that is the fact that by the time they square off against Manchester United, the title race should have already been fully run.
Therefore, it may present United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with the ideal opportunity to play some fringe players and especially if the Red Devils are edging closer to May’s Europa League final in Gdasnsk.
Should Leicester be able to dodge this bullet, then as long as they can pick up maximum points against both Southampton and Newcastle in the two league matches before, it should only strengthen their hand further.
At the same time, if Leicester fail to get a maximum six, nerves could well creep in and when you consider this is a side that completely fluffed their lines during last year’s “Project Restart”, the last thing they want at the King Power is for history to repeat itself.
A lot will boil down to what momentum Leicester can take into the F.A. Cup final and if they can get the better of Chelsea in the first of two back-to-back domestic clashes, it may also serve as a launchpad to get them over the Champions League line.
Next month’s trip to West London is an interesting one, as it could be a winner take all scenario or it could be a mutual celebration, as both Leicester and Chelsea end up securing a place in the Premier League’s top four.
The ideal scenario for Leicester is to have proceedings wrapped up before the final day of the season and with a visit of Tottenham always being one that is entertaining, the Foxes will not be aiming for dramatic twists and turns at the death.
After a February wobble, Leicester certainly look back in the groove and with qualification to the Champions League firmly in their own hands, they will only have themselves to blame if they fail to confirm it.