Leicester City have won the league! Leicester City have won the league. Leicester City!
It has been a bizarre a brilliant battle at the top of the Premier League this season, one which may never happen again. Looking back over the course of the season there are key games that put this remarkable rise in place. These are the 10 games which decided the Premier League title.
Man City 3 – 0 Chelsea – August 26th
It may seem like a long time ago now but Chelsea were once perceived as title contenders, and Man City looked like resurgent giants trying to wrestle back the crown. Early signs looked good for the sky blues as in the second weekend City decimated Chelsea with a Sergio Aguero virtuoso display. At the time people thought would be decisive come the end of the season, in truth it wasn't. But this result started the incredible unravelling of Mourinho's Chelsea and showed promise for a Man City team which would eventually taper out.
Leicester City 3 – 2 Aston Villa
On the face of it a 3-2 win over the inept Aston Villa is not that impressive, but at this point Villa were not doing that badly, and despite their solid start Leicester were not the remarkable team that they are now. After leading 2-0 with screamers from Jack Grealish and Carles Gil, Tim Sherwood's Villa looked they were on course for their second win in five games. Of course we know what happened next. Goals from De Laet, Vardy and Dyer turned the score around and started off the remarkable run of the Foxes. It showed the spirit of the team which has seen them battle against the best teams in the league and come out on top. Leicester would go on to lose only one game in the next thirteen, Villa would go on to lose seven straight games, sacking Sherwood in the process. Who knows what would have happened if Villa had held on to the lead, would they be marooned at the bottom of the table? And would Leicester have had the confidence and belief that this result gave them?
Spurs 4 – 1 Man City: 26th September
After a blistering start from Man City, winning their first five games, they had lost their 100% record the previous week, losing 2-1 at home West Ham despite dominating. It was all about how they would react. The answer was...not well. Despite taking an early lead, Man City's defence imploded in the second half in a way which has been all too familiar for them this season. Harry Kane managed to get his first goal of the season after a sluggish start, with Spurs for the first time in the season looking like the unit they are now. In fact they had started the season very slowly before this, failing to win in their first four matches. Spurs' title challenge started here, where as Man City faced a huge fork in the road.
West Brom 2-1 Arsenal: 21st November
With the downward spiral of Chelsea and Man City well under a way and Leicester's chances of a genuine title challenge still being dismissed, for a brief period this season it looked like Arsenal were destined for the Premier League crown. And after a wobbly start they had found some footing and started to push for the top, being the only to have beaten Leicester at this stage. But in true Arsenal fashion as soon as there was any sort of expectation they slipped up against the bastions of unremarkability that are West Brom. The Gunners lost in the most humiliating of ways, through a missed penalty and an Arteta own goal. This game, coupled with a draw at strugglers Norwich the following week, was a crushing blow to their momentum which they never quite recovered from.
Spurs 1 – 2 Newcastle United: 13th December
Whilst still not being quite title challengers at this stage, in December Spurs were on a good run which gave them, in classic Spurs style, an outside chance of Champions League qualification. A home tie against Steve McClaren's Newcastle should have been a easy three points for them, especially when you consider the ease in which Leicester had swept them aside. Despite taking the lead Spurs ended up losing to a late Mitrovic header, a result which now looks very costly. How much would those three points impacted the final stages on the title race one can only wonder.
Spurs 0– 1 Leicester: 13th January
In the early stages on the season we were used to the manic attacking prowess of Leicester. They accepted that they were going to concede so just trying to score more than the opposition did. But this result just after showed the dogged, resolute Leicester that has seen them win so many games 1-0 in the second half of this season. In truth, Spurs were the better side, with more chances created throughout. But all that was irrelevant when Robert Huth swung his head at the ball with his diesel-powered neck muscles to loop the ball over Lloris in the 83rd minute.
Man City 1-3 Leicester: 6th February
Also known as the game where everybody finally agreed that Leicester were probably going to win the league. In another Robert Huth one man show (he scored twice) the frailties of Man City's defence were again shown up, as the unrelenting pace and power of Leicester's team bullied the City backline. This was the moment that the Foxes showed that they feared no one and, more importantly, were better than everyone else at football.
Leicester 1-0 Norwich: 27th February
There are two generic football pundit cliché phrases that are at play with the significance of this victory:
1 - 'The sign of a champion is winning when you are playing badly.'
2 - 'It's all about how you respond to defeat when it comes.'
After losing the previous week to a last-gasp Danny Welbeck goal at Arsenal, Leicester did not play particularly well against relegation fodder Norwich City. But nevertheless they still got a late, late winner, coming from the archetypal brought-on-to-wind-down-the-clock-sub Leo Ulloa. The sense of relief following the goal was palpable and sent the Foxes off on a run of five 1-0 victories in six games. Many people still doubted the bottle of the Leicester City players and assumed that as the title got closer they would lose their nerve. This result was a huge step towards proving those theories wrong.
West Ham 1-0 Spurs: 2nd March
The Leicester result aside, the Christmas period was remarkable for Spurs and despite their Europa and FA Cup commitments they just kept on winning. With Arsenal and City going backwards they rose as the only team capable and snatching the title off the Foxes. But this game against West Ham, a team who had already seen off Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea earlier in the season, was a step too far. Spurs looked, to use a technical term, knackered, and barely strung a chance together all game. Truth be told, it was a terrible game, but one which somewhat derailed Spurs' march to glory, especially given Leicester's slip-up against West Brom the day before had given them a slight glimmer of hope. They could not make the most it and fell further behind in the race.
Arsenal 1-2 Swansea: 2nd March
On the same fateful day Arsenal's title hopes also hit an iceberg, to a much more unlikely opponent. Swansea were struggling at the depths of the league and still under serious threat of relegation. Surely this was an easy 3 points if Arsenal wanted to make up for Leicester and Spurs' dropped points? Nope. After Cech messed up a cross to allow Ashley Williams to score in the 74th minute, many Arsenal fans accepted that they had blown possibly the best chance they will get to win the league for years.
After this it was plain sailing for Leicester who just kept on winning while those around them faultered. In the absence of a dominating, consistent force at the summit of the Premier League, they took full advantage and won the key games when it mattered. English football has become a much more interesting place now Leicester have proven that anyone can beat anyone on their day.