And there you have it, ladies and gents. Confirmation that Leicester City are the only team in the league that deserve to win the title this season.
This was a mauling. Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kanté – Leicester’s vicious pack of hyenas – sliced and slashed at a back-line as heedless as a herd of wildebeest enjoying a good old chomp on a plain of green grass. Like their manager who said after the 1-3 defeat that “this was a defeat we didn’t expect” and the hundreds of starry-eyed journalists who still appear to be baffled by how Leicester are going about their business of reshaping the established top four, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Nicolás Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov dismissed Claudio Ranieri’s side as the harmless little East-Midlands outfit that finished just six points above the relegation zone last season.
One would have thought that the team who went into Saturday’s tie perching at the top of the table, carrying only two defeats in 24 league games and wielding the division’s top scorer deserved a little more respect. This hasn’t been a fairytale of magnificent fortune for Leicester City, it’s been a story of blood, sweat, tears, teamwork and talent. Every team in the league puts in a certain amount of hard work over the campaign, but it just so happens that Leicester, who finished 14th last term, have toiled unremittingly in every game they’ve played. Author Tim Notke once said that “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”, but when you have talented players that work hard like Leicester do, success becomes unavoidable.
You may have noticed that the nature of yesterday’s defeat has got me acting all philosophical, or maybe it’s the 30 units I put away last night in the hope of forgetting about the most grisly defeat I’ve seen us suffer this season. The 4-1 at Spurs was bad and the 4-1 at home to Liverpool was worse, but this was much more sinister, somehow. As supporters, we’ve been teased in the last couple of weeks by spirited victories, Agüero goals and a general feel-good atmosphere around the club only to be told “I’m not in the mood” as you lie there with your pants round your ankles.
It was a real ‘f*** it, Pep’s coming’ performance from the first minute until the last. Skipping down our left flank, the brilliant Mahrez drew an early foul from Kolarov just outside the penalty-area. This would be the first sign of how this poisonous afternoon would unfold, not that anyone was surprised, however – putting Kolarov up against the best winger in the league is like trying to take shelter from a Category 5 hurricane in a house made of twigs. The resulting free-kick was whipped into the path of Robert Huth who beat Demichelis to the ball and tucked in a third minute opener.