For almost the entire duration of the season thus far, Leicester City have been amongst the top four. Their performances have been delighting neutral fans for many months as this team, an assortment of lower-league discoveries, Premier League cast-offs and little-known foreign players have shaken the establishment of the world’s richest league.
Yet despite that, bookmakers have been disinclined to state that Claudio Ranieri’s team are the favourites to lift the Premier League. Largely based on the belief that Leicester’s bubble will eventually burst.
At the start of the season, Leicester were rated by even the best online betting sites as 5000/1 shots to win the Premier League. That despite form over the last ten games of last season which was the best in the entire division.
When that form continued into the new season, nay-sayers felt that it was only a matter of time before Leicester’s exuberance was curtailed and better, stronger teams would start to pick them apart.
The first time the bubble was supposed to burst was when Arsenal emerged from the King Power Stadium with a thumping 5-2 win. Many critics felt this was the beginning of the end for the home team who, having been humbled by the Gunners, would soon drift down the league into their usual lower-reaches position.
It didn’t happen. Leicester regained their composure and continued to pick up points and wins, often against big opponents (Manchester City and Chelsea to name but two).
Nor did it happen over the Christmas period when a number of draws in succession and the teams second defeat of the season, against Liverpool at Anfield, was supposed to see the wheels come off their title push.
It didn’t happen, in January Leicester bounced back. They may have lost to Tottenham in the FA Cup but gained revenge for that with a stunning win over their title rivals at White Hart Lane just a few days later.
Last weekend it was supposed to happen when the Foxes visited the Etihad Stadium to take on the millionaires of Manchester City. Defeat here would now surely see Leicester crumble and fall away and the established order take over at the top of the table once again.
Only the Foxes hadn’t read the script. Not only did they defeat Manchester City 3-1, but they absolutely outplayed them in every area of the field. It was as comprehensive a 3-1 victory over Manchester City as any. Including the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona have inflicted.
Of course, Leicester didn’t play in the way that their more celebrated luminaries did, but they were no less effective in dismantling Manchester City, that with a striker plucked from the Non-League and two key players signed from the lower reaches of French Football. Not to mention a handful of players who other teams felt were not good enough for the Premier League.
It was this win which finally saw bookmakers change their tune. Although Leicester’s price had come in massively from that early season 5000/1, they were still ranked about as likely to win the League as Liverpool at one point recently. That win against Manchester City changed things markedly and now Leicester are the favourites to win the league with most major bookmakers.
Is that a punt worth taking? Well after the game against Arsenal Leicester will have played all their games against top four opponents, with only a game away at Old Trafford to come against Manchester United. They also face home games against West Ham, Southampton and Everton from the top eight teams.
However, the trip won’t daunt Leicester too much. They have won all three of their away games against teams in the top six thus far (Spurs, Man City and West Ham). This has contributed to Leicester having the best away record in the Premier League.
With the majority of their games at home and against lower league opposition, it is not hard to see why bookmakers have made the Foxes the favourites to win the league.
A win for Arsenal would put them two points behind Leicester this weekend, but even so, the Gunners still have to face Spurs, Manchester City, Manchester United, West Ham and Everton away from home. Manchester City’s fixture list is equally daunting, as is Spurs.
Leicester City are deserving favourites to win the Premier League and if they can do so, they may well be the most popular winner of the competition in its entire history.
You can back Leicester to win the Premier League at a best price of 5/2 with Ladbrokes.