Premier League Match Days 24 & 25: Top Observations

Leicester must win for the league’s soul

It’s now gone past the point of no return. After their greatest season in decades, Leicester City are now favourites to win this season’s title. Having long been the ‘oh they can’t surely?’ package, they are now in a position where they almost have to win it. If they do, it will be the best thing to happen to English domestic football since the inception of the Premier League: proof that a team devoid of huge resources and household superstars can beat the new, moneyed formula and win success. If they don’t, then the team that beat this loveable underdog to the league won’t just be a neutral’s enemy. With the exception maybe of Spurs, if an Arsenal or Manchester City win then any chance of romance in English football will take a severe hammering. They will be the depressing enforcers of the new status quo. This most open of seasons must be won by the outsider, as we may not see another chance like this for generations.

Villa may need to go down

After not spending in the recent winter transfer window, there has been considerable unrest among Villa supporters that their owner, players and manager may just lack interest in staying in the division. With the bumper pay packet from the new TV deal coming in soon, everyone is especially keen to say up this season. In Villa’s case however, it could do them good. A squad of underperforming talent can often be best decimated by a relegation, and a lack of rash winter spending may be the sign of a club maturely preparing for a drop into a lower tier. The money may be coming in from next season, but Villa may be right to not overexpose themselves in the pursuit of that particular golden egg.

Baggies Baggies Bore Bore

It’s more than likely that Tony Pulis will once again keep one of his sides away from Premier League relegation. However, how much longer will West Bromwich fans put up with his relentlessly dour style of football? The myths of long-balls and kicking lumps are not universal, but this current version of Pulisism is oppressive stolid. A defence comprised entirely of centre backs results in narrow solidity with little overlapping menace. A central midfield of scrappers priorities safety over any sort of style. Too often, the model seems to rely on individual inspiration from a limited number of attackers (one of whom cannot buy a league start) while a block of meat sits deep around the goal. Four games from five without a shot on target is a damming indictment of Pulis at his stodgiest worst. How much longer will it appeal to his fans?

Pellegrini struggling to replicate Henkyes

After the least surprising managerial news in history, Manuel Pellegrini has the task of matching the previous manager in Pep’s shadow in terms of a trophy haul. While Bayern won a treble before handing the keys to Guardiola, City look less likely to send their old manager off in similar style. Defeat to Leicester is yet another against a team in the top six, and a team with such a record cannot realistically hope to win the league. A cup final and a relatively easy European last-16 tie are silver linings, but much needs to improve if Guardiola is to have a hard job living up to that of which he took control.

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisDWorrall

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