Belfast Telegraph

Focus on Premier League title battle run-in

Leicester's 1-0 win over Newcastle on Monday restored their five-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League after second-placed Tottenham kept the pressure on with their 2-0 victory at Aston Villa on Sunday.

In what increasingly looks like a two-horse race for the title Press Association Sport analyses the key areas that will determine the outcome.


Leicester need 20 points to mathematically win the title and, in their corresponding fixtures earlier in the season against the teams they have to play, they won 20 points. With a five-point lead the league is Leicester's to lose.

They have to play four teams in the top half - Manchester United, West Ham, Southampton and Chelsea on the final day - while facing struggling Crystal Palace on Saturday and Sunderland, Swansea and Everton.

Tottenham's hopes could be helped by elimination from the Europa League against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday, They must go to Liverpool and Chelsea and host Manchester United but also face Bournemouth, Stoke, Southampton and West Brom - all who are likely to have little to play for - before ending at Newcastle on the final day.


Leicester have won six of their last eight games - including a victory at Manchester City - and while t hey have not been at their explosive best in their last four matches they are grinding out results when it matters, with three 1-0 wins.

Jamie Vardy has scored just four goals in his last 15 games but others, including Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa, have picked up the slack while Riyad Mahrez continues to shine.

Harry Kane is in imperious form for Spurs but they dropped points, losing to West Ham and drawing against Arsenal, and they cannot suffer many more setbacks in their pursuit of the Foxes.


Tottenham have greater depth to their squad, being able to leave Nacer Chadli and Heung-Min Son on the bench in recent games, but showed after several changes in their 3-0 Europa League defeat at Dortmund last week they still need their big players.

Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are the Barclays Premier League's 19-goal joint top scorers and will both go to Euro 2016 with England barring injury but after 17-goal Mahrez and Vardy Leicester's next top scorer is Okazaki on six

Spurs' Dele Alli and Leicester's N'Golo Kante have excelled in midfield for their clubs while nobody expected Robert Huth and Wes Morgan to form a title-chasing defence for the Foxes. In goal, Hugo Lloris and Kasper Schmeichel have both won precious points for their sides.


Huth won the title with Chelsea in 2004 and 2006 but was a bit-part player in Jose Mourinho's squad while most of the Leicester side were pulling off their Great Escape this time last season.

Gokhan Inler has won the Swiss league twice but the Switzerland skipper has barely featured since his move from Napoli last summer, although several players, including Jamie Vardy, won the Sky Bet Championship in 2014.

Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld has a La Liga winners' medal and along with Christian Eriksen, three Eredivisie crowns with Ajax, but, like Leicester, Spurs are short of title-winning experience.


Neither boss has openly spoken about their title chances and both have played it down to ease the pressure on their own teams. Claudio Ranieri has remained jovial in the face of mounting tension.

Ranieri has consistently refused to talk about Leicester's hopes - only recently admitting they are going for the Europa League - but has hinted he could change his tune after the international break and has called Tottenham title favourites.

Both managers have told their fans they can dream about the title and Mauricio Pochettino has also tried to put the pressure on Leicester.


From Belfast Telegraph