‘League leaders Leicester City have stormed their way to the summit of the Premier League. Their collective team spirit and work ethic, combined with the brilliance of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have been unstoppable, and unparalleled’– so the script goes.
Well, the script is false.
Granted, Leicester have been very good this season, and have been a refreshing sight. Neutrals around the world delight in the intoxicating smell that exhumes from an underdog spirit. No-one embodies this image more than Jamie Vardy – enough has been said about him.
The Foxes’ closest competitors, Tottenham Hotspur, have also been the recipient of high praise this season. Rightly so, they have gone about their business subtly, emerging as contenders when the Premier League elite falter. Still, they have not been mind-blowingly good.
The ugly truth is that the only reason Leicester and Spurs are challenging for England’s most coveted prize is because of the failures and inadequacies of would-be contenders. Failures always occur in a season, but not on such a freakish scale.
Statistics are often perceived as ruining the purity of the game: they attack the very core of football, bringing the beloved game of instinct, adrenaline and drive to numbers. No-one likes numbers.
However, statistics have proven my suspicion that Leicester and Spurs have not been spectacular not to be the cynical opinion of one who is disgusted at the footballing proletariat smashing their way into the echelons of footballing hierarchy. For the record, I am not a footballing snob.
Leicester and Spurs have both played 32 games, picking up 69 and 62 points respectively. Comparing these totals with the exact same stage of the last four seasons makes for interesting reading.
The closest Leicester come to being top of the table would be in 2013/14, three points behind Chelsea and in 2014/2015 they would be four points off Chelsea again at the top. In 2012/2013 they would be placed second but eight points behind leaders Manchester United and in 2011/2012 they would be third, 10 points off United again in top-spot.
As for Tottenham, the closest the would be is 10 points in 2013/14; 11 points behind in the 2014/15 season; trailing by fifteen points in 2012/13; and 17 points behind the leaders in 2011/12.
Where would they be after 32 games?
Leicester City, 69 points
2011/12: 3rd (10 points behind 1st)
2012/13: 2nd (8 points)
2013/14: 4th (3 points)
2014/15: 2nd (4 points)
Tottenham Hotspur, 62 points
2011/12: 3rd (17 points)
2012/13: 2nd (15 points)
2013/14: 5th (10 points)
2014/15: 4th (11 points)
These figures demonstrate that had this been any other season, and not this baffling and unpredictable one, Leicester would not be considered title favourites, and Tottenham would be doing what they always do and not fighting for the league, but for Champions League.
Whatever reason one cites, and there are many, for the lack of fight from the ‘Top Four’, it is undeniable that Ranieri and Pochettino would not be in the same position they find themselves in had this been any other normal season.
It has not been a normal season though, but this is why the Premier League is the most exciting it has been for quite some time. I am not seeking to ruin the party, dampen the mood or be ‘that guy’, but the statistics point to one clear truth.
Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur have been good, but not that good.