8 Games Left, 5 Points Clear

8 games left, 5 points clear.  It’s pretty much looking like a two horse race between us and Tottenham from here on in.  Of course it would be foolish to write off Man City or Arsenal just yet.  Yes, they’ve both had bad runs recently but they’ve got bundles of depth and experience in the squad so we can’t count them out at all just yet.

We’ve just played games against Watford and Newcastle from which we picked up 6 points and secured a 5 point lead at the top of the table, great to see Okazaki on the scoresheet at home.  We wasn’t always comfortable during these matches which is understandable at this time of the season with so much at stake.  You only have to look at some of the great Premier League winning sides to see that you can’t always win games glamorously, you do need to grind some results out.  Grinding out results is more a sign of a league winning side than one of a side whose bubble is about to burst.

There is definitely some positive nervous energy about, I know as an ex player that it’s there.  If you’ve got nothing to play for you can just go out and enjoy your football, but when you’re at the top you’ve got a different type of nervous energy, especially with the immensity of what it means to all involved with Leicester City.  What Leicester City are on the verge of is massive for our club and its supporter, so of course it’s only natural that there are plenty of heightened emotions going into each and every game.

Although the last two games were a little scrappy, at this stage of the season nobody really cares how we play, it’s all about the results.  Scraping 1-0 wins from now until the end of the season will see us crowned champions.  We’ve now reached the point where the ultimate goal is clear, 1st place.  That’s the target, that’s now the focus and that’s what we’re all hoping and aiming for.  To finish in the top 4 of the Premier League is a huge, huge achievement and one that would have been dismissed by most of us back at the start of the season.  It’s a huge testament to all involved at the club that to finish below top spot would now be tinged with a little disappointment.  How weird does that feel?  Very mixed emotions there.

This is all being talked about in the media as one, if not the greatest ever footballing achievements of all time and lots of comparisons are being made to what Forest did back in the 70s. I remember very clearly what Forest did and it was incredible, it still is to this day.  I personally think it’s unfair to make comparisons just yet.  It’s two different eras, two remarkable yet very different achievements.  It’s probably better to discuss this at the end of the season, but even then it’s still difficult to compare the two.  To say one of these is the biggest achievement only serves to belittle the other, which probably isn’t right.

Another remarkable achievement this season is what Bournemouth are doing.  Bournemouth are staying up, most of us are fairly confident of that and I put that down to the great job that Eddie Howe is doing.  It’s great to see young Managers being given the chance and going for it.  I’m a little tired of seeing the same old faces going from club to club with the same old styles of football.  Me, I’m a fan of the Director of Football role and would love to see more of the younger Managers being given a chance at the helm with a more experienced Manager working behind them in a mentor type role.

On a lighter not, the Vardy Quake.  You’ve only got be in the ground to see what the effect the crowd is having on the game.  The noise, the tremors, the atmosphere are all incredible.  It’s a great time to be a supporter of Leicester City right now and it’s also a great time to be a player too with this support behind them.

We’ve got two very tricky games coming up against Crystal Palace and Southampton, but games where 6 points is the target.  6 points from these two games and we’re within touching distance of the title. Palace away this afternoon, they’re 8 points above the relegation spots, but we saw last season how teams can go on big runs towards the end so they are still looking over their shoulders and want points to guarantee safety as quick as possible..  Southampton, they’re currently 7 points off of 4th spot and will also be looking to score points.  Fingers crossed for some open playing football with plenty of opportunities to use our speed in attack.

Coming up soon we have the PFA awards.  I think we’re in with a great shout here, Mahrez, Vardy, Drinkwater and Kante have all got to be involved somewhere.  If we do go on and win the league then we could go on and clean up at the awards.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of course now that Vardy will start scoring again so the Golden Boot is certainly within his grasp.  PFA Player of the Year; For me personally, I would vote for Kante.  The work rate this guy puts and the ease of which he can retrieve a football from the opposition has been a huge contribution to our success. However, he’s not a headline grabber, he’s not a player who scores spectacular goals or stands out in the limelight so I’m not sure he’d be on their radar if they’re not watching him every game. So as far as City players are concerned, I believe it’s a toss up between Vardy and Mahrez.

We’ve got two great nights coming up at The Poachers Brasserie in Thurlaston.  An Evening With Emile Heskey.  This will be a Q&A event with a 3 course dinner on Thursday May 5th.  Further details to be announced shortly.  Also the Tiger’s boys are with us, an Evening With Geordan Murphy and Richard Cockerill on Thursday 21st April, again further details to be announced shortly.  For more info on these and anything else please contact me via the Contact Walshy page here: Contact Walshy

If these two events are anything like the recent one we held there with Steve Claridge and myself, then it will be well worth attending.  I look forward to seeing you there.

We’ve also got some more Leicester City Legends games in the pipeline, so I’ll keep you updated as and when further details are available.

5 to 5

UnknownLast Friday I had a meeting at Leicester City and bumped into Big Wes, I’ve not seen him for a while so it was great to spend some time with him again. As a former player you fall in love with your shirt number, it becomes a part of you. I feel a bond to Big Wes, who like me is a solid number 5 and who at times can be similar to player to me. For sure he is one of the best Centre Halfs we’ve seen at the club for a long time.

We had a good chat about the club itself, the season so far and what’s to come in the next few weeks. I personally believe we’ll have the season wrapped up with 3 games to go, so I asked Wes what he thought, he just gave me a cagey wry smile and left it it that. I couldn’t read it, I have no idea what him or any of the players are expecting to happen. One thing is for sure, from the owners to the fans, we are all hoping to lift that Premier League trophy for the first time this season.

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Going into the Norwich game last week I was full of confidence, I totally expected us to brush them aside and walk away with a 3-0 victory. However that’s not what we got, I’m not sure whether the 2 week break helped us or not. It was a tough game, Norwich were playing good football and played with confidence. As the game went on, my heart was telling me that we would nick a goal in the last few minutes, but in reality my head was telling me that Norwich were the team most likely to go and nick one. What a cross from Abrighton! A stroke of genius from Ranieri to move Albrighton over to the right and bring on Ulloa in the 78th minute. Great cross, vital flick on from Vardy and and a great finish from Ulloa.

Speaking of Ranieri, he popped into my local Italian restaurant the other night, the Boboli in Kibworth. I wanted to go and introduce myself, but I though better of it, it was his private time (and I was worried he might not know who I was)!!

Back to the Norwich game. Norwich is a former club of mine, but unfortunately it’s a club I feel no affinity with, I made a move that under normal circumstances would never have entered my mind. I had just been thrown out of the club I love by Tater Peeler and just didn’t know where to turn or who to turn to. Playing Norwich always reminds me of a bad time in my life, but I wish them well, I think they will stay up this season and I hope they do. They played very well against us and I think they’ll continue that form. Good luck, Norwich.

West Brom, I think we was all disappointed with the result of the West Brom game on Tuesday night, we should have been out of sight long before the end. For 24 hours I felt a little deflated and saw our lead at the top being taken away from us. Wednesday night, what a great Wednesday night that was, I can’t remember feeling that excited about a night of football where Leicester weren’t even playing. They all lost, all of them, Man City, Arsenal and Spurs. I still can’t believe it, we drew at West Brom and still extended our lead. This really is an unbelievable season.

It’s looking like Tottenham are our main challengers for the title now. I fancied them when I saw them play earlier in the season, but I didn’t expect it to be us that was up there challenging with them. They have a tough week ahead and on paper and ours looks a lot more favourable. Tottenham v Arsenal is an interesting game. If Arsenal win we can potentially be 6 points clear at the top, but if Tottenham win the gap to 3rd becomes even bigger and automatic Champions League slots are looking a lot more realistic. Whatever the result of that game, we benefit somewhere.

To summarise, I still think the next 6 games will decide our season, we need to win the Premier League during these matches, and I think we will.

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If you’re not yet aware of what I’ve been doing this past couple of years or so, me and my good mate Muzzy Izzet have set up and been running a successful footballing academy for 16-18 year olds in Leicestershire. Spaces for the 2016/2017 academic year are currently filling up very fast, so if you’re interested in finding out more please contact us ASAP – http://www.afdaleicester.co.uk/