Jamie Vardy and Leicester City are back in the Premier League title hunt. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)
The odds aren’t quite 5,000-to-1, but Leicester City is trying to do something special again this season.
Four seasons after their miracle Premier League title, the Foxes are back pushing for the top flight crown, beating Aston Villa 4-1 on Sunday to move within eight points of leaders Liverpool.
Jamie Vardy scored two more goals, and he nows leads the Premier League with 16. His chased down his first of the game in the 20th minute, and punctuated the victory with this goal in the 75th:
Kelechi Iheanacho finally started alongside Vardy up top and repaid the faith by finishing off a well-worked team goal shortly before halftime:
But this Leicester team is much more than the attack. James Maddison has been a revelation as a playmaker. Wilfred Ndidi has shepherded the midfield to great aplomb. Longtime Manchester United defender Jonny Evans and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, another member of the 2016 title team, have helped Leicester concede a league-low 10 goals.
Furthermore, the Foxes are unburdened by European competition. They’re through to the League Cup quarterfinals later this month, and won’t start FA Cup play until early January, but their squad won’t be taxed like Liverpool and Manchester City.
Speaking of City, everyone thought the reigning back-to-back champions would provide Liverpool’s stiffest competition this season. They still might, but right now they trail Leicester by six points in the table, and they might start dumping more eggs into the Champions League basket in pursuit of the one prize that’s eluded them.
The Foxes are uniquely positioned to make noise in this title race. They visit Man City on Dec. 21 and host Liverpool five days later. If they can win either match (or both) and make it through the glut of holiday fixtures unscathed, we’ll have a genuine title challenger on our hands, led by no less than former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who came so agonizingly close to finally winning the Premier League for the Reds in 2014.
They’re still after that elusive trophy. Leicester’s already won it. And Leicester is standing in the way of this one.
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