Luck or a tactical masterclass? Either way, there could be no stopping Leicester
Sunderland v Leicester, Sunday 1.30pm, Sky Sports 1
Is it luck? Leicester’s march to the title. Is it simply a freak case of a team who got lucky?
The definition of good luck is success apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. But how many times do you have to repeat the trick before people stop believing it’s luck, and start believing it’s one’s actions?
Leicester’s ability to win the tight games this season looks like it could well decide the destination of the Premier League title. Plenty has been made of Claudio Ranieri’s men winning the last four games on the spin 1-0, but Leicester winning by the slimmest of margins is nothing new. They’ve done it 14 times already this season.
And it’s this ability to win games by a single goal that has given them the lead at the top of the table.
In games that are decided by one goal or less (i.e. they could be a draw) Leicester’s record is 14-9-2, with their only two defeats coming away to Arsenal (2-1) and Liverpool (1-0). That’s a total of 51 points from a possible 75 and a 56 per cent win rate in the closest games.
To put that into some kind of context, Arsenal have taken 25 points from a possible 51 in games decided by a goal or less, and Arsene Wenger’s men have a win rate of just 35 per cent (6-7-4). The Gunners’ North London rivals, and the closes challengers to Leicester’s crown, Tottenham, have an even worse record. They’ve picked up just 29 points from a possible 63 and have a win rate of 29 per cent (6-11-4). Manuel Pochettino’s men’s habit of drawing may come back to haunt them in May.
Leicester’s narrow wins have come in some huge games going all the way back to the start of the season. They beat West Ham 2-1 away on August 15, came from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 in September. Chelsea were defeated 2-1 at home and Everton beaten 3-2 away in December, before the Foxes picked up a huge 1-0 win away to Tottenham at the start of the year – Robert Huth’s 83rd minute goal proving pivotal in the title race. Follow that up with four 1-0 wins on the spin, and Claudio Ranieri’s men have proven it’s no fluke.
This weekend Leicester travel to Sunderland, with the Black Cats fighting for their Premier League survival, while the Foxes scrap for the title. Of Sunderland’s 16 defeats, only six have come at The Stadium of Light where Sam Allardyce’s men have proven tough to break down. Of those six defeats, five have been by the 1-0 scoreline, with Tottenham, Manchester City, Southampton, Liverpool and Watford all escaping the North East with the narrowest of wins.
Seven of Leicester’s 20 wins this season, and by far their most popular correct score is the 1-0 win. If you take a sip of our mind-reading cocktail, with a chaser of hindsight, a £10 bet on Leicester to win 1-0 in each of their 32 league games this season would have left you in profit of £340. Tidy. It’s a shot that the Foxes win 1-0 again this weekend.
The Foxes are the favourites to heap the pressure on relegation-threatened Sunderland and pick up all three points, while it’s a very tempting punt that Leicester win by exactly one goal yet again this season at odds of . 70 per cent of the Foxes wins have been by one goal this season, and Ranieri’s men could give their fans some more squeaky-bum moments on Sunday by scraping past the Black Cats.
Lucky? Winners make their own luck…