Tony Pulis is a good manager, and a better man. Even Jose Mourinho, the prince of doom, likes him. Pulis' West Brom became the demon in the fairy tale when they cut down Leicester City's lead at the top after enforcing a 2-2 draw. And Pulis was almost apologetic after the match. "I hope Leicester win the league," he said. "I'd love to see them do it, I think the majority of football people would love to see them do it because it gives us all hope."
Oh, don't you worry Tony. You don't have to feel bad. The Baggies might have held Leicester on Tuesday and pushed the panic button on their 'foxy' Premier League campaign. But Wednesday is a new day, and the hope is still alive and kicking.
What happened on Wednesday night was Godfather-esque. Towards the end of Part I, Michael Corleone, in a swift move of diabolical vengeance, gets all the heads of rival families, all his enemies killed while he's at church, attending the baptism of his sister's baby. He is now Godfather, to the baby and to the New York Cosa Nostra. He is Don Corleone. And, perhaps very prophetically, Leicester fans put on display a flag of Ranieri as the Godfather during the West Brom game at King Power stadium. Don Ranieri. Kiss his hand, and shut the door.
Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur — all of Leicester's title rivals — lost in spectacular fashion on Wednesday night. All enemies vanquished in single swing of an imaginary sword.
Arsenal, the club on which many, including yours truly, put their money to win the league when they beat Leicester two weeks ago, have since suffered back-to-back losses against Louis van Gaal's Manchester United school boys XI, and Swansea, who didn't win a single game all February and are even below Chelsea in the league table. This is the English Premier League, and Swansea aren't even English. They are Welsh. Enough said.
Manchester City lost to the first law of English football, which states that you cannot beat a team in the league just after you've beaten them in the cup, and vice versa. Unless you are Stoke. Manchester City just had to lose to Liverpool at Anfield after dumping them out in penalties in the League Cup final. City got their glory, Liverpool got their revenge. Poetry always has its way in the Premier League. You go, Adam Lallana! Don't let the Yaya Tourés of the world bully you.
Which brings us to Tottenham. Now, you expect Arsenal to be Arsenal, especially towards the mathematical end of the league. And City haven't really been in it this season. But Spurs, a club which used to cue laughter among the dearly departed 'Big Four', haven't been Spurs all season. Which means they've been good. They were on a six-game winning streak in the League before they were halted at West Ham. No lucky number seven for them. They had a chance to go top on goal difference, but they bottled it. They became Spurs of the yore.
In all this bloodshed, Leicester have emerged relatively unscathed. They stumbled, but everyone else fell. But that's life in the Premier League; it keeps throwing banana peels at you and you've got to try and avoid them. And if you do avoid them, you then laugh at others who couldn't. But Ranieri and Leicester can't laugh for long. The Foxes must be thinking; had they held their nerve against West Brom, they'd be five points ahead of Spurs instead of three, eight points ahead of Arsenal instead of six, and 12 points ahead of City instead of 10.
But Leicester did catch a lucky break, and you can't bank on breaks like these in the topsy-turvy league. Look at what has happened: Manchester United have caught up to City (who, albeit have a game in hand) and trail only on goal difference after just two back-to-back wins. Chelsea are now just eight points behind a top-four finish.
Anything can happen in a matter of two gameweeks. Next up, Leicester go to Watford expecting to pick up points, while Spurs host Arsenal, were either or both of them will drop points — a win-win situation for the Foxes. Manchester City don't matter now. After three defeats on the trot to Leicester, Spurs and Liverpool, they've made it a three-horse race. City must forget all that baloney about winning the league and start worrying about playing in the Champions League next season, because it will be quite hilarious if they don't under Pep Guardiola.
'Lucky' Leicester might have lived on all the goodwill this week and stretched their lead by one on their competition despite a draw, but goodwill doesn't survive for long in the gloom of the Premier League. It thrives on heartbreak, despair, angst and misery. Ask Arsenal fans, they'll tell you the story. The Premier League is a ten-month long thesaurus on pain. But, you know what? It's also bloody good fun.
Here's how the EPL table looks like now
First Published On : Mar 4, 2016 10:05 IST