Leicester City play Newcastle United this weekend with England striker – because we can say that now – Jamie Vardy looking to equal a Premier League record of scoring in 10 successive Premier League games.
To get that record would be a great achievement, and to play against a team with one of the worst defensive records in the league should make things easier. But in football, betting on the unlikely thing almost seems as good a bet as predicting the more likely thing. Football is just weird.
Pretty much whatever happens from here on in, it has been a wonderful season for Jamie Vardy personally, and a wonderful season for Leicester.
Another 15 points – from the whole season, that’s another 26 games – will see Leicester safe, which was surely their aim at the start of the season.
When Claudio Ranieri came into the club, everyone thought ‘what are Leicester doing?’ They sacked Nigel Pearson, who seemed to have kept the club in the Premier League against all the odds and in very trying circumstances. But here Leicester are in a Champions League spot.
And that’s still not the aim, surely. But only four more wins might very well see them safe. With four more wins, the Foxes would have 37 points, which would have been enough for safety the last four seasons. You have to go back to 2010-11, when Birmingham managed 39 points and went down, to find 40 points representing the actual the safety mark.
So four more wins, and maybe a few more draws for Leicester will see them totally safe, and they’ve managed seven wins from 12 games already. So the odds look good. Which means they should build from this.
And one thing we’ve learned from football over the years is that it’s unpredictable, for the most part.
We know who’s going to win the league in France and Germany this season, we can make a 50-50 guess about Spain, too – at least most seasons. But apart from the nailed-on things like that, predicting football is a fool’s errand. At least if you’re trying to do it seriously.
So to find Leicester right at the top of of the league for most of the season would show that once again. Clearly it’s not impossible for Ranieri to mastermind a cracking season beyond all expectations.
Similarly, though, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for Leicester to collapse a bit and tail off. It might be pushing it a bit to predict relegation, or even a relegation battle at this point. But a mid-table finish wouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Just like Jamie Vardy equalling the goalscoring record, betting on a Leicester tail-off would seem like the normal bet at this point, but you never know.
Yet, if I were a Leicester fan, I wouldn’t be too bothered about the league position. After all, just staying in the league was the aim for this season, and that looks to be safe now. What I’d want from Leicester now, if i were a fan, would be a cup run.
I’d want Ranieri to forget about the league, at least after Christmas. I’d want four more wins between now and FA Cup third round day, and then I’d want the focus to go on the cup run.
The Premier League title won’t be won by Leicester. The Champions League is probably out of reach. But even if the Europa League is within reach from the league position, it’s still available through winning the cup. So why not aim for silverware and a European place?
It’s much easier said than done, but in football you never know. If Jamie Vardy, a player nabbed from non-league, can equal a Premier League goalscoring record held by Ruud Van Nistelrooy, then anything seems possible. Just give it a go, Leicester!