Year of the Fox surely, says Neil Humphreys
Dazzling on the eye and dizzying for opponents, Leicester's brand of football can win them title
MAN CITY 1
(Sergio Aguero 87)
LEICESTER CITY 3
(Robert Huth 3, 60, Riyad Mahrez 48)
For the Chinese, it's going to be the Year of the Monkey. In the English Premier League, it's going to be the Year of the Fox.
Leicester City are going to do this. Surely they will now believe that they are going to win the title.
A 3-1 victory at Manchester City last night was enough to confirm the utter foolishness of those cliched sheep that bleated on about the alleged gulf in quality between the sides.
All week long, wheezing pundits waffled on about City's superior resources making the difference, as if the previous 24 games didn't happen.
But Leicester didn't listen. They haven't paid attention all season. School's out. The rebels with a noble cause are making up the rules as they go along.
They're taking a machete to those malevolent big boys one fixture at a time, chopping down the elite's sense of entitlement faster than the bullying heavyweights can sack their managers.
Leicester already occupied the summit. Once City shamefully sacked Manuel Pellegrini, the Foxes also occupied the moral high ground.
Claudio Ranieri's buoyant band of brothers had momentum, an unchanged side and stable management in their corner. City are a malingering mess.
To suggest that the hosts were going to put the upstarts in their place hints at that awful elitist mentality that is as outdated as it is unwanted.
The underdogs were not put down. A City victory didn't happen. It was never going to happen.
A cursory glance at any of Leicester's recent performances would've indicated where this one was going.
The Foxes play only one way; forward, always forward; a blitzkrieg with football boots, dazzling on the eye and dizzying for opponents.
Both sides needed just three minutes to encapsulate their respective seasons, when Riyad Mahrez's skidding pass found Robert Huth's outstretched boot.
Martin Demichelis couldn't find Huth. He couldn't find the two-goal hero all evening. Instead, the City defender's trailing leg nudged the ball past Joe Hart.
Leicester's commitment continues to defy belief. Without Vincent Kompany, City's defending remains calamitous. In such moments, titles are won and lost.
Man City's myopic owners can claim until the cows come home (or, in this case, Pep Guardiola) that announcing Pellegrini's exit in February has no bearing on the team's performances but, of course, it does.
Just compare the two captains.
Wes Morgan threw his barrel-shaped body at anything that crossed his path. He refused to yield. City could not pass.
In stark contrast, Yaya Toure sulked and scowled, lolloping around the pitch. He was listless, sloppy and uninspired. His lethargy was contagious.
City's cautious line-up squeezed the play, isolated Sergio Aguero and invited Leicester to surge on the counter-attack.
Even on the touchline, Pellegrini shivered in the rain, while Ranieri twisted, shouted and fist-pumped his Foxes towards victory.
Whatever this season's outcome, City's decision-makers must be castigated for Pellegrini's heavy-handed dismissal.
If they fail, the club will be accused of destabilising the challenge. If they succeed, then they prematurely fired a title-winning manager. The ridiculous decision was only exacerbated by surreal events at the Etihad.
If Leicester taking the lead silenced the sceptics, their second goal stunned the world.
It wasn't the goal of hopeless romantics, top-four contenders or title challengers. It was the goal of champions - quick, inspired and effortlessly elegant.
N'Golo Kante skipped a couple of challenges before sliding the ball forward for Riyad Mahrez.
Leicester's magician was quicker than City's maligned Nicolas Otamendi. Mahrez dropped his marker like a bad habit, took a stride and then lashed it into the top corner. City were sleeping. Leicester were dreaming.
It's worth nothing that the combined transfer fee of goal-scorer Mahrez, goal-maker Kante and goal machine Jamie Vardy was £21 million ($42.8m).
City paid twice as much just for Eliaquim Mangala.
If the glorious Foxes achieve nothing else, they must make English football's plastic heavyweights rethink their transfer strategies.
By the hour mark, they had naysayers rethinking their lives as the game moved into a dreamy, woozy nirvana for underdogs everywhere.
When Huth nodded in a corner in the 60th minute, Leicester temporarily took leave of their senses. Both in the away end and on the pitch, arms were raised as jaws dropped.
Aguero's header in the 87th minute was a fine finish, but added nothing of significance to the result.
As Chinese New Year looms, it's monkey business everywhere except Leicester. They just mean business.
City look lost without leadership on the pitch and in the dugout. The Foxes look a lot like champions.
- Aston Villa 2 Norwich 0
- Liverpool 2 Sunderland 2
- Newcastle 1 West Brom 0
- Stoke City 0 Everton 3
- Swansea 1 Crystal Palace 1
- Tottenham 1 Watford 0
1 Offsides 0
3 Fouls 11
9 Corners 1
8 Dribbles 11
6 Tackles 19
10 Total Shots 8
1 On Target 5
6 Off Target 2
0 Hit Woodwork 0
3 Blocked 1
86% Pass Success 56%
76% Aerial Success 24%
70% Possession 30%
MOVERS & SHAKERS
35 Age 31
1.84m Height 1.91m
80kg Weight 80kg
94% Pass Success 60%
78% Aerials Won 100%
70 Touches 34
0 Fouls 1
1 Shots 3
2 Dribbles Won 0
1 Tackles 3
7.9 Rating 9.15