Likely Old Trafford coronation as Leicester march on towards title, says Richard Buxton
If Spurs slip tomorrow, Foxes can seal title at Theatre of Dreams on Sunday
LEICESTER CITY 4
(Riyad Mahrez 10, Leonardo Ulloa 30, 60, Marc Albrighton 85)
SWANSEA CITY 0
Dreamland now beckons for Leicester City at the "Theatre of Dreams".
Aided by an incapable Swansea City succumbing to a 4-0 defeat yesterday, the show goes on for Claudio Ranieri's side.
An encore next week may bring down the curtain on the battle for the English Premier League title race this season.
Win against Manchester United next Sunday and the title will be all but guaranteed. This is where things finally threaten to become tricky for the Foxes.
Deep down, they knew this day would come; the period where their season-long stroll to the crown would face potential jeopardy.
Previous challenges have been proven to be misnomers. Swansea can count themselves as the latest in that list.
United, however, are not a challenge for the faint-hearted. They have made and broken champions.
Not so long ago, they were serial champions.
Riding high after Saturday's FA Cup semi-final triumph and on the verge of sealing Champions League qualification, Old Trafford's Red Devils will be no pushovers.
Sealing the title there would be the stuff of legends for Leicester.
West Ham gave them a scare last weekend that Swansea were never going to repeat, but United might.
Ranieri claimed that he had 24 "Caesars" within his ranks, but gladiators will be required in English football's grandest amphitheatre.
Fortunately, they already boast a magician in their midst.
At times, Riyad Mahrez has been taken for granted in the ranks of the current champions-elect.
His brilliance still somehow finds itself overshadowed in a starting 11 that possess a combination of vision, pace, firepower and heart.
The Algerian is all four rolled into one, with an added repertoire of wizardry that comfortably filled the void left by the suspended Jamie Vardy yesterday.
NO VARDY, GOT PARTY
Vardy has been the star, but even in absentia, the headlines went elsewhere.
Leonardo Ulloa may consider it somewhat vindicated by a two-goal haul that safeguarded victory against the Swans.
But Ranieri knows different, hailing Mahrez as both Leicester's light and colour.
He also increases the decibel levels at the King Power Stadium, raising the roof with a 10th-minute strike yesterday, after capitalising on a misplaced pass from Ashley Williams.
No Vardy, no party? Hardly.
The England striker may be the embodiment of the most remarkable fairy tale in EPL history, but Mahrez is a close second, if not his equal.
Picking which of the pair deserves to be crowned the EPL's Player of the Year has become a Sophie's choice for many.
Mahrez's 17th goal of the campaign ensured that there is now little separating the mercurial duo.
He has been directly involved in 28 goals this season, more than any other EPL player with the exception of one... Vardy.
That personal battle of one-upmanship remains the key ingredient behind Leicester's success and has rendered the heel-snapping of Tottenham, now eight points adrift with four games left, a mere afterthought.
On to Old Trafford.
"Without Jamie, everybody made something more. And it was fantastic to see every player fight."
— Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, lauding his players in the absence of their suspended top scorer Jamie Vardy
- LEICESTER: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs, Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, Jeff Schlupp (Marc Albrighton 82), Leonardo Ulloa (Andy King 79), Shinji Okazaki (Demarai Gray 73)
- SWANSEA: Lukasz Fabianski, Angel Rangel, Federico Fernandez, Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Leon Britton, Jack Cork, Leroy Fer (Alberto Paloschi 46), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Ki Sung Yueng 76), Andre Ayew, Wayne Routledge (Jefferson Montero 46)
LAST NIGHT’S OTHER RESULT
- Sunderland 0 Arsenal 0
Rain tree part of new Tree Trail in Civic District
A 3km-long Tree Trail to be launched in the Civic District will feature the ubiquitous Rain Tree that is part of our city's natural landscape. But did you know that the tree provides a habitat to a vast array of local flora and fauna? CEL GULAPA, HO YAN HAO, TEOH YI CHIE and LINETTE HENG identify some of the living things the tree is home to
Plants that grow upon another plant and derive moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.
Pigeon Orchid This flower is pearly white, with a tinge of light sulphur yellow in the middle. Its shape resembles a pigeon when viewed from above. It has a distinctive scent and blooms for only a day, which leaves a short opportunity for pollination to take place.
Staghorn Fern It is usually found in high rainforest canopy. This fern produces three different types of leaves — large upright green photosynthesising leaves, long downward hanging leaves that have spores, and broad brown leaves that curl inwards and form a spongy centre that absorbs water and collects minerals.
Bird’s Nest Fern This large fern is commonly found at the base of the large branches. The leaves were reportedly used by a native tribe in Malaysia to ease labour pains and by Malays to create a lotion to treat fever.
Paradise Tree Snake This rear-fanged creature can also be found in parks and gardens. Its venom is weak and it climbs trees to hunt for tree-dwelling lizards.
Plantain Squirrel This quick and agile creature can be found in the trees and in undergrowth, foraging for fruits and nuts. It is active in the day and relies on its good eyesight, sharp claws and long tail to scamper around undetected. Some squirrels build their own nests in the tree branches.
Common Palm Civet This shy, nocturnal mammal, which is more closely related to the mongoose than to the cat, prefers staying in trees and high places, and can occasionally be found on the rooftops of buildings. It is identified by the black ‘mask’ on its face.
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher This yellow-breasted bird hunts flying insects on short flights from its perch.
Common Iora This small bird is hard to spot because it usually hunts for insects under the tree canopy, but you can hear it singing most of the time. Its eggs are greenish-white.
Olive-backed Sunbird This small bird forages for nectar on the treetops and lower bushes by clinging to a nearby stem. It tends to be quite bold and often nests close to humans.
Black-naped Oriole This colourful bird has a distinctive bright yellow mantle and is usually found at the tree canopy. It feeds on fruits and insects and occasionally makes a melodious call.
Collared Kingfisher This bird is the most common kingfisher in Singapore and it hunts a variety of prey — fish, prawns, crabs, lizards, small snakes and insects.
Common Flameback This brightly coloured woodpecker is usually found on the lower part of the tree and is often seen in pairs. The male birds have brighter colours than the females.
Carpenter Bee Often mistaken for a bumblebee, it has a shiny abdomen, compared to the bumblebee’s hairy one. It is a solitary creature and often nests in the woods.
Striped Albatross This butterfly is most active in sunny weather and goes often to flowers for nectar. The wings of the male are white while the female has black wings.
Common Mormon This butterfly is often spotted flying erratically and can also be found in urban gardens. Some even mimic the toxic Common Rose to avoid predators.
Painted Jezebel This brightly coloured creature can be found fluttering around treetops in the day. It often descends to lower ground for nectar or to rest in the shade.
PARTS OF THE RAIN TREE
Leaves The leaves fold up in the evenings. That’s why Malays call it “Pukul Lima”, which means five o’clock. Leaves also close when the sky is overcast, thus the name Rain Tree.
Flower The flowers are found in clusters and are slightly fragrant. When the tree blooms, its entire crown will be covered in shades of pink and white.
Fruit The fruit of the tree is a thick, elongated pod, which is fleshy inside and has many seeds. It is 10cm to 22cm in length and ripens to a black colour
Murali unveils $1.9m worth of renewal plans
Candidates Murali Pillai from the People's Action Party (PAP) and Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) went on walkabouts yesterday ahead of the May 7 Bukit Batok SMC by-election
Lawyer Murali Pillai, the People's Action Party (PAP) candidate for Bukit Batok, yesterday unveiled $1.9 million worth of infrastructure plans for a neighbourhood in the single-member constituency if he were to be elected at the May 7 by-election.
The plans, which include covered walkways, ramps, a jogging track and a small park, come under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme for the precinct at Blocks 140 to 149, Bukit Batok West Avenue 4.
Some 640 of the 12,000 households in the seat live in these blocks.
Mr Murali told reporters at an exhibition on these plans yesterday morning that residents were surveyed late last year on how the neighbourhood could be enhanced.
'UP TO RESIDENTS'
But the PAP-run Jurong-Clementi Town Council, which currently looks after Bukit Batok, will only be able to carry out these plans should he be elected, he said.
"Let me just say that this plan we are presenting is a plan by the PAP Jurong-Clementi Town Council. So it's really up to our residents," he said.
"We will only have the mandate to carry on if we are returned at the next by-election. If we don't have the mandate then we won't have the ability to carry on, because we will not form the town council. That's the rules."
Also at the exhibition were Jurong GRC MPs: Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee, and town council chairman Ang Wei Neng.
Mr Murali's announcement comes two days after his opponent, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan, unveiled four social programmes he planned to roll out if he is elected.
The by-election was triggered by the abrupt resignation of PAP MP David Ong on March 12 over an alleged extramarital affair with a grassroots leader.
Both Mr Murali and Dr Chee almost crossed paths during their walkabouts yesterday morning, appearing at the same coffee shop barely minutes apart from each other.
When asked for his take on Dr Chee's programmes, Mr Murali would only say: "I've just spoken about the plans I believe Bukit Batok residents can identify with because this came up after a very, very extensive consultation."