“Who deserves to win the title this season?”, asked the old man to her 4-year old grand-daughter who doesn’t even know the basics of the beautiful game.
“Leicester City, Leicester City, Leicester City!!”, she shouted.
This has been the scenario in the whole of Europe as Leicester City push for one of the most improbable achievements in sporting history ever to have been achieved till date.
Even Sir Alex Ferguson recently claimed that Leicester City have had been, “the best team without question in the English Premier League this season and would be worthy winners of the title.”
What makes this achievement more significant than Nottingham Forest of the 1977-78 season is the fact that the premier league is now beguiled with unrestrained wealth. Even a team like Aston Villa, who is hitting rock bottom and touted by Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville as a Championship struggler in the next season, will earn around $100m even after relegation. This is the exact financial status of the best league in the world.
Now, the real question is, “Are Leicester City the most complete team this season?” The Answer may not be yes. Absolutely Jarring!
Leicester City have scored 1.73 goals this season per game, while Tottenham Hotspur have matched them with a 1.82 goals per game ratio. On the contrary, Spurs have conceded 6 goals fewer than the almost would-be champions have shelled in.
On an average, Spurs have enjoyed around 55% possession of the ball, a lot thanks to Mauricio Pochettino’s high-pressing, attacking style of football, with enough composer down the middle, courtesy to Dembele and Dier, and with enough firework and creativity upfront in the likes of Eriksen, Alli, Lamela and Kane.
Conversely, Leicester City enjoyed only 45% of the ball, largely due its counter-attacking approach towards the game. Claudio Ranieri has used the old-fashioned Italian 4-4-2 counter-attacking style all season with Vardy and Okazaki his target men, with Kante and Drinkwater(arguably the best central duo this season) down the middle and with flair and pace from both Mahrez and Albrighton.
This formation has been viewed as a fossil over the last ten years, mainly because of how its two strikers leave the midfield vulnerable and outnumbered. But its initial secret was of the defensive kind. When Arrigo Sacchi installed it at AC Milan in the late 1980s—outsmarting opponents with an aggressive offside trap, zonal marking and small distances between the lines—No10s struggled to find time and space.
The system would inspire many coaches, such as Rafa Benítez, the Valencia boss in 2004. “Four-four-two is the best defensive system that exists,” Ancelotti, who was Sacchi’s regista at Milan and later his assistant for Italy, said in 2014. “Four-three-three doesn’t give the balance required and it’s more difficult to pressure higher upfield. Our intention is to defend with a 4-4-2 and attack with a 4-3-3.”
What gives Spurs the edge is that they have one of the most disciplined defences in Europe behind an exceptionally exciting and dangerous attack, that has created a whooping 432 chances as a team compared to just 323 by Ranieri’s men. Also, the number of passes completed by Spurs on an average is 489.9 per game compared to just 352 by Leicester.
Clearly comparing all the footballing departments in attack and in defense we can arguably say that, Leicester City are the best team this season, but Tottenham Hotspur has been undoubtedly the most complete and composed side of the 2015-16 spell.