When the season began not many people would have put Leicester City in a Champions League position when predicting the final league table for this season, but with just five games to go for most teams the Foxes have almost secured their place in the top four of the Premier League.
Despite some much glamorous and hard spending clubs all around them Leicester have proved that it’s not just star names that are needed to win games, teamwork and cohesion are just as important.
Brendan Rodgers will of course get the credit for creating a team that can live with the big boys and they are on course to go one better than last season when a fall in form at this time a year ago meant they missed out on a top four spot.
Like all sides the Foxes have suffered with players missing through injury and at times it did look as if some of those missing, the likes of James Maddison, Jamie Vardy, and Harvey Barnes, would derail their bid to gate-crash the top four as strength in depth is lacking amongst the East Midlanders.
The lack of numbers is something that will need to be addressed this summer with the increased number of games to come, their last adventure in Europe’s top competition resulted in being unable prioritise whether the Premier League or the Champions League was more important leading to a bottom half league finish whilst title winning boss Claudio Ranieri was sacked before the season’s conclusion.
One of the main factors why Leicester are very much in the hunt is the recent form of Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho. The past reliance on the goals from Vardy appears to have subsided a little although it’s only been this half of the season Iheanacho has brought goals to the party, indeed no one else has scored more Premier League goals since the beginning of February.
To take into account the thirteen goals for Barnes, eleven from Maddison and eight from Youri Tielemans has given the side belief that missing their striking talisman is no longer a worry as it once was.
Those injuries to others has actually benefited Iheanacho being brought in to play alongside Vardy and fourteen goals in his last fourteen games including the winner against Crystal Palace on Monday evening highlights how important he has become to Rodgers game plan as the season nears its conclusion.
Their run-in to the end of the season however isn’t too favourable. Their next two games see them face Southampton and Newcastle, sides who need the points to ensure they are in the Premier League next season. It doesn’t get any easier with trips to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge that sandwich the FA Cup final whilst Tottenham head to the King Power Stadium on the last day whereby the Foxes would have hoped to have sealed a place in the Champions League before that fixture comes around.
In a season where times have felt strange and unattached to a lot of people it’s comforting to see the likes of Leicester and West Ham take the fight to the established bigger clubs, another race like this one next season will see some fresh impetus given to the Premier League.
No one wants to see stale or stagnating football and maybe 2020/21 has been the year life was breathed back into some areas of the game just as the greedy were doing their best to change the course of the footballing map forever.
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37