Gary Lim's 10 reasons behind Leicester's success
Our writer lists the reasons for Leicester's fairy-tale title triumph
1 REVERE RANIERI
Claudio Ranieri, described by former England and Leicester striker Gary Lineker as an "uninspiring" appointment when he became manager at the start of the season, has completed one of the most remarkable stories in the history of football.
The shrewd Italian has managed to draw the best out of those at his disposal.
He said recently: "We have to play like we are desperate - not every match; every second...
"The day my players relax, I get crazy. They know that.
"I think I am a nice man, but I am also demanding."
2 TERRIFIC TRIO
Not only has the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year scored 17 goals, but the Algerian has also contributed 11 assists.
His 22 goals for the Foxes put him third on the top-scorers' chart, just three behind Tottenham's Harry Kane at the top.
His record-breaking run of scoring in 11 straight Premier League games between last August and November provided the title momentum.
His energy, discipline and reading of the game form a solid shield in front of his defence - which explains why Leicester have the joint-third best defensive record in the top tier: Only 34 goals conceded.
3 FOXES FLOURISH WITH 4-4-2
Ranieri's biggest success lies in reviving what was thought to be an obsolete system - 4-4-2.
With the front two positioned deep and given the responsibility to defend from the front, it allows the midfield and defence to squeeze themselves into a compact unit to deny opponents space.
Fullbacks Christian Fuchs and Danny Simpson help narrow the defensive block by tucking in, further congesting the central region.
With the protection from the front and the sides, centre backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth are often able to stay deep and stick close to their designated posts.
When the Foxes break down opponents' play, they hit them on the break with speed, and as directly as possible.
Mahrez's dribbling skills and intelligence have seen him cut in from the right with devastating effect.
Vardy, with his pace and superb stamina, scores plenty of goals via diagonal balls over the top and into the channel.
Vardy had earlier described the players as a "tight-knit squad" with "plenty of banter flying around".
On the pitch, that energy is translated into a system where the players look out and fight for one another.
5 NO PRESSURE
With all the attention on Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester were able to escape much of the scrutiny.
Ranieri also did his best to deflect the pressure.
Leicester have topped the table for almost two-thirds of the campaign, but it was only late last month, with four games remaining, that Ranieri finally admitted that his team can win the title.
Leicester reaped the rewards for ditching their gungho approach and reining in their attacking instincts.
After conceding 17 goals in their first nine league matches, they let in only 16 goals in their next 26 games.
Explaining the improvement, Ranieri said that his players needed time to adapt to his tactics defensively.
Leicester are a team infused with English spirit and Italian tactics, he proudly said.
7 NO EUROPEAN DISTRACTION
While their title rivals fret over their European campaigns, Leicester had the luxury of resting their weary bodies in midweek.
Manchester City and Arsenal had to juggle Premiership duties with Champions League football, while Tottenham Hotspur were saddled with their Europa League commitments.
Much like Liverpool during their surprise championship charge two seasons ago, Leicester have looked fresh week in, week out.
8 NO INJURIES
Ranieri can count himself lucky to have most of his key players injury-free, which allows the side to gel as the season progresses.
Vardy started every single Premiership game until his recent suspension. Mahrez has missed just one game.
A total of eight Leicester players started more than 30 Premiership matches this season.
In comparison, Spurs have six, Arsenal five, and Man City just one.
9 PENALTY CALLS
No team have been given more spot-kicks than Leicester this season.
Of the 83 penalties awarded in the 20-team Premiership, 11 (nine converted) have gone to the Foxes, who conceded only three in return.
Man City have been awarded the second-most penalties (eight), but they managed to put away just five.
Spurs successfully converted all five of theirs, while the Gunners scored just one from the two they have been awarded.
10 1-0 WINS
If the hallmark of a champion is the ability to grind out results, then Leicester certainly fit the bill.
They have won more games by a one-goal margin than any other top-tier side: 14. Seven of their 22 victories have been won by a 1-0 scoreline.
Spurs and Arsenal have won 1-0 just three times, and Man City twice.
How the Foxes did it
1 KEEP PACE AT THE START
Three wins and three draws in their first six games help Leicester keep up with early pace-setters Manchester City, who win their first five games.
Spurs start slowly, managing to win their first game only on Matchday Five.
The Foxes suffer their first loss of the season on Sept 26 - a 5-2 defeat by Arsenal. Surely this is the start of their decline?
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri, however, has other ideas.
EPL LEADERS ON SEPT 28:
1) Man City - 15 pts
2) Man United - 13 pts
3) West Ham - 12 pts
4) Leicester - 12 pts
2 REWARD MILESTONES WITH BEER AND PIZZA
After their first clean sheet of the season, a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Oct 24, Ranieri takes his Foxes on a pizza outing.
On Nov 21, they top the league for the first time after defeating Newcastle 3-0 away. Ranieri’s reward this time? Beer all round.
A week later, Jamie Vardy (above) breaks Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 2003 record by scoring in his 11th straight game - a 1-1 draw with Man United.
1) Leicester - 28 pts
2) Man United - 27 pts
3) Man CIty - 26 pts
3 DELIVER ON YOUR PROMISE
A defeat by Liverpool on Boxing Day and draws with Man City and Bournemouth peg the Foxes back, as Arsenal top the league in January. But the Foxes return to the top on Jan 23, after a 3-0 win over Stoke City.
Ranieri promises the players a one-week break if they win their three back-to-back games against the big guns. They beat Liverpool 2-0, Man City 3-1, and lose 2-1 to Arsenal, but Ranieri gives them the week off anyway.
1) Leicester - 53 pts
2) Tottenham - 51 pts
3) Arsenal - 51 pts
4 WIN 1-0, REPEAT
The one-week break seems to do wonders - Leicester are unbeaten since their holiday.
The Foxes also show mental stamina to grind out results, relying on a late goal by substitute Leonardo Ulloa (above) to beat Norwich City 1-0 on Feb 27, sparking a run of five 1-0 wins in six games, building up a seven-point cushion.
1) Leicester - 69 pts
2) Tottenham - 62 pts
3) Arsenal - 58 pts
5 SEND IN THE SUPERSUBS
With Jamie Vardy’s sending-off against West Ham on April 17, the stage is set for the Foxes’ reserves to make their mark.
Ulloa scores a late penalty equaliser to force a 2-2 draw with the Hammers. In the next match, Ulloa and another reserve, Jeff Schlupp, shine in a 4-0 win over Swansea.
Although they fail to claim the title with Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Man United, Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Chelsea hands them the crown.
1) Leicester - 77 pts
2) Tottenham - 70 pts
3) Arsenal - 67 pts