No English Premier League team has been more praised this season than Leicester. And rightfully so, as the league-leading Foxes are the most surprising success story in years. However, almost every bit of praise waged at Leicester this season has been hedged because of the perception that, no matter how many matches it wins, a club like Leicester just in't supposed to be successful in the Premier League.
Leicester look amazing, but it can't sustain this form the entire year.
Leicester are leading the league, but Manchester City and Arsenal are much more talented and will overtake the Foxes eventually.
After seeing Leicester beat Liverpool 2-0 on Tuesday at King Power Stadium, there should be no more hedging. Leicester was by far the better team against Liverpool, just as it's been in almost every match it's played this season. Every challenge that's come the Foxes way has been conquered. Aside from a short stretch at the end of December and beginning of January, Leicester has been the best team every minute of the EPL season.
Against Liverpool, Leicester stuck with the same tactics it's executed all season long. Two strikers up top were ready to spring forward at a moments notice, as the Foxes defended well to open the counter. Leicester looked better for the first half, but was unable to find an opening goal.
Then Jamie Vardy happened. In the 60th minute, Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, the two best players on Leicester's squad, combined on a counter-attack. Mahrez hoofed the ball to Vardy far down the pitch, where Vardy took a first-time volley that soared over the head of Simon Mingolet. It's a sure-fire goal of the season candidate, and Vardy's 17th of the season.
MUST-SEE: Jamie Vardy's first-time volley puts Leicester City in front of Liverpool https://t.co/HJx4XZTtQY- NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 2, 2016
Vardy's day wasn't done yet. He got a second, less spectacular goal on another counter in the 71st for his 18th of the season, putting Leicester's three points on ice and securing the top spot in the Premier League for another week.
There are still 14 matches to play, and plenty of time for plenty of teams to falter or rise. But, over the next few weeks, Leicester has the chance to unequivocally crown itself as favorites, as the Foxes next two matches are against Manchester City and Arsenal, the two traditional favorites to win the league.
Manchester City kept pace in the title race with a 1-0 win against Sunderland. That won't breed much confidence for the Sky Blues, however, as the Black Cats are one of the worst teams in the league. Leicester will be happy to see City get the win since the Sky Blues haven't won consecutive EPL matches in months. The two clubs drew the first time they played this season.
After that it's Arsenal, which is struggling as much as any club in the league at the moment. The Gunners match with Southampton resulted in a 0-0 draw, their fourth consecutive match without a win, dropping them five points behind Leicester. The Arsenal match also comes days before the Gunners face Barcelona in the Champions League, which could distract the Arsenal players from the match at hand.
There's still lots of work to be done, and plenty of big matches to be played, but I'm tired of pretending that Leicester doesn't have a chance just because it isn't called Chelsea or Manchester United. The Foxes earned the No. 1 spot in the Premier League, and they should be treated as such until another team knocks them off.
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Cy Brown writes about soccer and other stuff for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.