EPL in Focus – Leicester Still in Pole Position but Spurs Refuse to Let Go

This incredible Barclays Premier League season enters its final few weeks and what was a four horse race, is now a two horse one. Leicester City or Tottenham Hotspur! Who’s your money on?

LEICESTER SHOW THEIR FIGHTING SPIRIT ON A CRAZY SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Leicester City, amidst all the chaos, the drama and the recriminations in one of the most dramatic Premier League games of this or any season, grabbed what could turn out to be a priceless point against West Ham United on Sunday. The match will be remembered for referee Jon Moss producing a red card for striker Jamie Vardy, awarding a dubious penalty to the visitors, then failing to award a stone-wall penalty to Claudio Ranieri’s team before awarding them another one in the 94th minute! Leonardo Ulloa stepped into Vardy’s shoes to coolly convert the spot-kick, Leicester City were saved and their title challenge remains on course, but how key the loss of their top scorer Vardy will be (with a two match suspension looming over his head) remains to be seen.

 

SPURS DESTROY STOKE CITY TO CUT THE GAP TO FIVE POINTS

Spurs haven’t been crowned kings of England since 1961; whether they correct that statistic this season or not, the North London side are without doubt, playing the best football in England. Monday evening’s 4-0 destruction of Stoke City, was a statement of intent to Leicester City that Mauricio Pochettino’s team will fight until the very last point to claim the Premier League title. Led by the magnificent Dele Alli, who scored two of his sides goals and could have scored at least three more, the club from the capital simply blew their hosts away, just like they did with Manchester United a week earlier. What must be so pleasing to Spurs fans, so long in the shadow of their North London neighbours Arsenal, is that the spine of their team is made up of young English players, who look capable of taking on the world; England Head Coach Roy Hodgson will be praying that Alli, Kane, Rose and Dier can all stay injury free in the final month of the campaign.

THE FIGHT FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLACES CONTINUES

It looks as though it’s a race between three clubs for the final two Champions League places and the smart money on the betting exchanges looks to be on Manchester City and Arsenal. The Citizens seem to have been galvanized by their run to the semi-finals of Europe’s premier club competition, as they head Arsenal on goal difference going into the home straight. The return of Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne has coincided with the club’s upturn in form and his magnificent recent displays both domestically and in Europe, has ensured coach Manuel Pellegrini can enjoy his few remaining weeks at the helm before he hands over to Pep Guardiola. Arsenal have a history of finish the season strongly; unfortunately for Gunners fans, it always seems to be when the domestic league title is beyond their grasp. Back to back drawn games for Arsene Wenger’s team however, has them nervously looking over their shoulders with Manchester United just four point adrift in fifth position. All three clubs play catch-up this week and on May 8, Arsenal visit the Etihad Stadium in what could decide who takes the third automatic Champions League place.

MANCHESTER UNITED AND MOURINHO – THE SAGA CONTINUES

Manchester United’s season has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Despite all this, coach Louis van Gaal has got them to an FA Cup semi-final and still has a chance of making the Champions League next season. The Dutchman has spent the last five months of the season, working under constant rumours as to who is successor will be at Old Trafford. According to Jose Mourinho, it will be him, after newspaper reports recently suggested that he had told close friends and French champions PSG that he will be reporting to Manchester this summer. The same reports, also suggest he’s already compiled his list of transfer targets; the power brokers at the club would certainly be interested in having a look at it. Insiders at Old Trafford suggest that some senior figures are reluctant to take the “Special One” and would prefer van Gaal to see out the remaining year of his contract; many of the best football betting sites beg to differ, with the Portuguese tactician odds-on to replace him.

 


ASTON VILLA BID FAREWELL TO TOP-FLIGHT FOOTBALL AFTER 29 YEARS

Aston Villa, one of the oldest football clubs in the world were relegated from the Premier League last weekend after 29 years in English football’s top-flight. The in-fighting currently going on inside the club perfectly sums up a forgettable nine months at Villa Park. After Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United confirmed their drop into the Championship, defender Joleon Lescott stated that it was a “Relief” that relegation was now confirmed; these comments sparked outrage, with some of the club’s former players describing them as a “disgrace”. That the same player tweeted a picture of his luxury new sports car just a couple of months ago amidst all the chaos surrounding the club seems to have now made him one of the scapegoats for their fall from grace.

 

WHO ELSE WILL BID FAREWELL TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE?

Quite simply, it’s any two from three as Newcastle United, Sunderland and Norwich City fight for their Premier League lives. Last weekend’s 3-0 win for the Black Cats over the Canaries, has given them a huge lifeline with only three points covering all three teams;  the two North-East giants both having a game in hand. Newcastle United gave coach Rafa Benitez his first win in charge on Saturday as they beat Swansea City 3-0 at St James’ Park. On Tuesday night, Manchester City are the visitors in what could well be the defining game in the club’s season; a win will push them to the brink of survival, a defeat will make relegation almost a certainty.

Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)

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