The balance of power and relative positions in the Premier League could move towards north London after this weekend’s live TV matches. Wins for Arsenal and Tottenham in matches against Leicester and Manchester City would be another subplot to this remarkable season and see a side from north of the capital win the title for the first time since 2003-04.
The live matches involving Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool have little relevance to the superpowers who each could be becalmed in mid-table safety before the end of the month. However, in Sunderland, Newcastle and Aston Villa their opponents are in the bottom four and facing the nightmare scenario of relegation to the Championship. Villa seem gone so it looks like any two from four that also includes Swansea and Norwich.
This time last year Leicester looked in a similar plight to Villa and were all but relegated. Top four form over the rest of the season got them out of trouble and inspired this unlikely run on the title. For the first time in years the Champions League places are unpredictable and could include two teams that are not traditional qualifiers. Manchester United and Chelsea could both miss out, the latter almost definitely and United because they are not good enough for better than fifth place.
Some Leicester fan placed £20 on his team to win the league at the start of the season at 5,000/1 so he would win £100,000 if the impossible happened. Stories in the Press focused on what he might spend it on with no mention of cash out opportunities. Leicester can be layed at 3.65 so a £27,500 transaction would guarantee that profit whatever the outcome. If Leicester beat Arsenal they could be as low as 6/4 to be champions but conversely drift in the betting if they lose that match.
After comprehensively beating Manchester City away from home last weekend Leicester became favourites to win the Premier League for the first time this season. Even the most non-believing pundits are now coming round to thinking the biggest upset in sport ever could happen. Leicester have no distractions and at least one full week to prepare for the next fixture between matches.
I have no idea how Claudio Ranieri manages his time and training but seven free days gives plenty of scope for relaxation and leisure activities. He may have even allowed his players a night out, a luxury not available for the other contenders to win the league who have other commitments. Potentially Manchester City could play twice as many games as Leicester from now until the end of the season.
Leicester looked fitter, faster and stronger than Manchester City at the Etihad where Yaya Toure looked like he was on an afternoon stroll. His team mates looked like a group that had dropped a level because they know the manager is leaving in the summer. Bizarrely City could win four trophies and Manuel Pellegrini would still be replaced by Pep Guardiola for the start of next season. However, City were abysmal against Leicester and will win nothing unless their collective attitude changes.
The current league leaders keep facing crunch fixtures and win them but beating Arsenal away could just about clinch the title for Leicester. If Manchester City beat Tottenham they would be six points clear with 12 fixtures remaining. However, if Arsenal and Tottenham both win only two points would seperate the top three and City would be just about out of the equation. The north London clubs are tipped to prevail which leaves the destiny of the Premier League wide open.
Arsenal would be doing Tottenham a great favour by beating Leicester and this could be one fixture too far for Jamie Vardy and friends at the Emirates Stadium. Leicester have shown championship form to date in winning eight of 13 away matches, losing just one while scoring 26 goals and conceding 14. Arsenal have lost twice at home in the league this season and can enhance their win record of 7 from 12 at home by beating Leicester and handing the initiative to Tottenham.
The team managed by Mauricio Pochettino, who fouled Michael Owen when England were awarded a penalty against Argentina in the 2002 World Cup, would be two points behind Leicester if Arsenal do the business against their opponents from the Midlands and they beat City on the road. Tottenham have only lost once on their travels in the Premier League this season so the north London double looks feasible live on television this weekend.