Premier League Top Observations: Matchdays 18 & 19

Leicester: The gift that keeps giving!

After the setback know against Liverpool, it would have been easy to see the Leicester miracle quickly unravel. However, a spirited draw against Manchester City ensured the Foxes ended 2015 in pole position. To have begun 2015 bottom of the Premier League only compounds the sheer brilliance of this teams calendar year. The survivalists of Pearson have changed into the attacking pacesetters of Ranieri. They score goals for fun; they boast the two form players in the division and their squad combines old hands such as Drinkwater with inspired new signings such as Kante. It may all still go wrong, but they are easily the footballing story of the year, by miles.

Chelsea woes stretch beyond Mourinho

In the three games since The Special One became the Unemployed One, Chelsea have strongly suggested that their issues go far beyond their previous manager. A mutinous victory over Sunderland preceded two draws that highlighted both sides of their difficult season so far. First, the surrender to Watford showed a defensive fragility utterly at odds with their title winning push last season. Second, during the stifling draw at Old Trafford, they showed their attacking toothlessness when asked to play even remotely on the back foot. The players seem glad that their old boss has gone, but each passing game shows how culpable they too were during their disastrous beginning to the season.

Everton truly become a Martinez side

Everton’s ridiculous 3-4 defeat to Stoke was the perfect microcosm of everything good and bad about Roberto Martinez’s side during the last year or so. Going forward there are few problems, with Lukaku being the standout of a group of talented attackers playing some incredible football. However, their defensive work wanders between the naive and the ridiculous as they leak goals against virtually any opponent. After his excellent debut season, it is as if the former Wigan manager has had time to tweak at Moyes’s defensive foundations and thus fully make this his own side: a team of fluid attacking football but a colander of a defence. His imprint on the team may impress some, but should concern the Goodison faithful.

Saints further open title race

A comfortable victory against Bournemouth should not distract from just how awful Arsenal were on Boxing Day in their 4-0 defeat at Southampton. The fact that a team struggling both for goals and form could so demolish the season’s most consistent ‘big side’ points out just how open this title race is shaping up to be. More so than any point in recent history, any team can beat any other and no side has any solid claim to being the best in the division. A team could bring 2016 with a devastating run of form and ultimately walk it, but that is exactly it…any team could. As it stands, there is no clear favourite, and that is the best present this most sterile of leagues could have got this festive holiday.

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisDWorrall

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