The English Premier League table has somehow a weird look about it right now. Sitting atop Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United is the surprise leaders, Leicester City.

Yes, the Foxes are now leading the Premier League table, ahead of the Boxing Day fixtures.

Leicester have led the top flight of English football earlier also but that happens to be back in August after one-two fixtures. However, to hold the league summit in December is certainly an impressive one given that the so-called heavyweights of Premier League often find their form around this chilly month of the season. It’s also true that most of the pundits were expecting Claudio Ranieri’s honeymoon run to stop around this time of the year. At 64 and with his 15th different club, Ranieri has seen a lot of things what football has to offer and has also noticed electricity in the stadium whenever they play infront of the home supporters.

There is still plenty of work to be done for the rest of the season but holding on to the top spot at this stage remains some achievement. But honestly speaking, does it actually matter? Nobody even remembers the side who were league leaders on Christmas Day; no trophy or medal for being the top team midway through the season, but there has to be a real significance in the bunch of players holding top spot at this stage.

Jamie Vardy has a message for Leicester fans. image courtesy: Twitter

Stats say, five of the last six League champions were on the top on 25th December, while Liverpool in 2013/14 the only exception when they failed to continue their momentum in the final months, eventually pipped to the post by a resurgent Manchester City.

Chelsea in 2009-10 and 2014-15, Manchester City in 2011-12 and Manchester United in 2010-11 and 2012-13 remained on the top spot for the second half of the campaign and went on to lift the trophy.

On the other hand, in the last 11 Premier League seasons, the side sitting top at Christmas won the title 8 times. Mathematically, in the first 12 years of the Premier League era, only three teams held on the top place for the final six months of the season to become champion. So, it has become more and more difficult to loosen a side’s stranglehold on the lead.

For the past 11 years, the lowest the Christmas leaders have ever ended was third position, while only once Arsenal dropped off the pace in 2007/08. Prior to 2004, three clubs fell to third, two more fell to fourth and Aston Villa even slipped down to sixth position in 1999.

Many pundits might think Leicester City will eventually drop out of the Champions League places than win the Premier league, but recent history clearly suggests they will take some toppling. Atleast will finish at the top four.

                                                                         Where do Xmas leaders finish

   TOP AT XMAS

 SEASON

FINAL POSITION

Norwich City

1992-1993

         3

Manchester United

1993-1994

          1

Blackburn Rovers

1994-1995

          1

Newcastle United

1995-1996

          2

Liverpool

1996-1997

          4

Manchester United

1997-1998

          2

Aston Villa

1998-1999

          6

Leeds United

1999-2000

          3

Manchester United

2000-2001

          1

Newcastle United

2001-2002

          4

Arsenal

2002-2003

          2

Manchester United

2003-2004

          3

Chelsea

2004-2005

 

          1

Chelsea

2005-2006

 

         1

Manchester United

2006-2007

         1

Arsenal

2007-2008

         3

Liverpool

2008-2009

         2

Chelsea

2009-2010

         1

Manchester United

2010-2011

 

         1

Manchester City

2011-2012

         1

Manchester United

2012-2013

         1

Liverpool

2013-2014

 

         2

Chelsea

2014-2015

         1

 

However, the unexpected honeymoon run of Leicester is still an odd one to finally end in the cold dark winter months because of injuries and the fatigue from playing half of the campaign apparently makes an impact on a team that is still considered small when compared to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool.

 Leicester have been on an excellent run of form starting from the beginning of this year when they were languishing bottom of the table but manage to win enough matches to rise up as only the second team in Premier League history to remain bottom at Christmas and yet earn their ticket for another season. Indeed, Leicester City will also lead the league table if you consider all games from the start of this year.

They have also bolstered the squad during that impressive run with Japanese hitman, Shinji Okazaki brought in from German club Mainz. Okazaki is gradually finding his feet in the top flight of English football but he can now rest easily as his teammate Jamie Vardy playing certainly the best football of his life in the last 2-3 months.

But Vardy would not be seen one of the most talented or gifted strikers in world football; indeed he had to work his way from non-league football to the bright lights of Premier League with great patience, still what a mesmerising story – to find the net in ten consecutive league games is very impressive. Only Manchester United’s Dutch hitman, Ruud van Nistelrooy has achieved this glorious feat one.

Jamie Vardy is deservedly in the England team based on his excellent form – can Vardy add an unexpected Premier League champion’s medal at the end of this memorable campaign?

That might not happen, but the Foxes have proved that they are actually not far off from the batch of European top sides and could eventually snatch a spot in Europe using their league placing which Claudio Ranieri’s men would richly deserve.

A team with such endeavour which has made more interceptions than any other team in the Premier League. Only Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Paris St-Germain have scored more top-tier goals across the continent. Stats speak for them.

Leicester City’s current form also suggests that the Thai owners would be desperate to support Claudio Ranieri to strengthen his team in next month’s transfer window. This will be the former Chelsea and Monaco manager’s great chance to shine given the summer signings were mostly still his predecessor’s.

Another extraordinary signing to back up Jamie Vardy could hold the key to ensure that this dream season doesn’t end up on a dud note for the surprise package of the season.

My tip? A top four finish for Leicester and a spot in the Champions League.

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