Just as we all expected back in June, when the Premier League schedule makers presented us with Monday’s Leicester City versus Chelsea clash, it’ll be one title-challenging side hoping to avoid utter humiliation against an opposition floundering just above the relegation zone.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Only, it’s the hosts, the side that plays their home games at the King Power Stadium, who enter Monday’s showdown (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) third in the league, a single point off the league lead, which they held at the start of the weekend. Which would mean, yes, Chelsea, the reigning PL champions, are the ones presently sitting 16th in the league table, a single point above the drop.
Given the likelihood they would find themselves in this position nearly halfway though the season — which is to say, highly unlikely — surely Leicester are feeling the pressure that follows the league’s top teams every season. Not so, says Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez, whose total of 10 goals scored ranks third in the PL, four behind his teammate, Jamie Vardy. Mahrez says Leicester feel no pressure, actually, something he believes has helped to propel the Foxes to dizzying heights.
Mahrez, on the lack of pressure for Leicester — quotes from the Guardian:
“We don’t have any pressure. No one said at the beginning of the season Leicester would be first in December. We’re training, laughing and joking, and when the games come, we work hard for each other.
“It doesn’t matter for us, it’s just a team. We focus on our team and Chelsea are a big club, but we’ll play like we always do.
“Last year was the first for a lot of players in the Premier League. We needed some games to get experience. I think the last year has helped a lot of players, like me, and now we are ready for every game.”
At no point this season has the challenge of continuing this improbable run looked too daunting for Leicester, who, as Mahrez highlights once again in the above quote, are just about the loosest bunch of professional players you’ll find these days. They take the field, they play their game, they enjoy themselves, and they float home on cloud nine more often than not.
With every victory, the Foxes hit a new summit in the club’s history. Each point won is a brand new dream that most of the club’s supporters might have never dreamed. Come to think of it, the fans are surely the ones actually feeling the pressure over Leicester’s improbable title challenge, because they players sure aren’t.