EPL's dramatic run-in: Leicester march on as Ranieri weeps for joy, Spurs just about hang on
Leicester have five games remaining, with West Ham, Swansea, Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea standing in their way; nine points is what they need
The profound Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho wrote, "The best way to destroy the bridge between the visible and invisible is by trying to explain your emotions."
On Sunday, Claudio Ranieri's bridge remained sturdy when asked why he shed tears after Leicester's vital win. The Italian manager had just witnessed another typical display of perseverance, discipline and commitment which saw off Sunderland as the Foxes moved to within three wins of a remarkable Premier League title. It's no longer a dream.
After the final whistle, Ranieri walked towards his players on the Stadium of Light pitch and, in front of the millions watching, released what was pent up inside him.
Were the tears shed because his side never stopped believing? Or did it suddenly dawn on him that Leicester are on the verge of one of the greatest shocks in the sport?
In his idiosyncratic way, this is how he explained his tears to the BBC: "I make this job for the emotion that I feel inside. But it's difficult for me to tell which kind of emotion I have inside."
They have five games remaining, with West Ham, Swansea, Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea standing in their way. Nine points, if necessary, from the remaining 15 available should not prove to be an issue.
Their magnificent achievement has already been rewarded after Tottenham's 3-0 win over Manchester United guaranteed them Champions League football next season.
That match came later in the day, so the pressure was back on Spurs who had just learnt the gap between themselves and the Foxes was now 10 points.
But, like their rivals, this Spurs team is a stubborn lot, nurtured so by a man who has now transformed the philosophy of two Premier League clubs. Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton were defined by their pressing and attacking as a collective and this is also the characteristic of a Tottenham side, who last won England's premier division in 1961.
The north London side might have to wait another season to win it again, but they will not concede defeat until they are defeated. Spurs, like Leicester earlier, had to bide their time against a United side playing with a formation which was as confusing as their season so far.
However, the dam finally broke in the 70th minute as Dele Alli first, then Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela — who must be up for "Makeover of the Season" — scored the goals that completed an impressive win.
There were no Pochettino tears after the match, just a show of steeliness. "I think it's true we sent a message that we are there, waiting and fighting," said the Argentine.
Spurs' odds might not be as long as Leicester's were at the start of the season, but you wouldn't back them to snatch the title. Then again, in a season that has already defied logic, nothing is foregone.
If new-look Tottenham could be likened to hipsters then their opponents seemed like the once-stylish friend who now fails to fit in. United are now four points shy of a Champions League spot, with European football not guaranteed.
Manager Louis van Gaal has become increasingly belligerent as the season has progressed. With the spectre of being shunted in favour of Jose Mourinho seemingly on the horizon, this has perhaps left him exasperated. When asked by a journalist whether he regretted snubbing the Spurs job when it was offered to him in 2014, he said. "I think it is pathetic you use one game to say that but that is up to you."
Perhaps the Dutchman should read some Coelho.
Of the other teams that were expected to challenge for the title, third place Arsenal's hopes all but ended when they relinquished a 2-0 lead at West Ham to draw 3-3. And fourth placed Manchester City look like they've rediscovered their mojo, albeit too late, with a 2-1 win over West Brom.
The top four is unlikely to look dissimilar to how it is now, and the same applies for the bottom three. One of the trio was dangling from Premier League trapdoor on Saturday.
Aston Villa, the top dogs in England's second city Birmingham, had their relegation all but confirmed after a 2-1 defeat by Bournemouth left them needing 15 points, and huge dollop of fortune, from their remaining five games.
For a club that has won seven top flight titles, seven FA Cups and the European Cup, the realisation that they will not be among the elite for the first time in 29 years must have been bitterly painful to digest.
Who will join them is not quite cut and dry yet, but it looks ominous for north east duo and rivals Sunderland and Newcastle. The Black Cats are four points shy of 17th place Norwich and the Magpies are six points adrift. Both teams have played a game fewer than the Canaries.
While Sunderland kept Leicester at bay for two thirds of their match, Newcastle’s capitulation began in the fourth minute at Southampton in the 3-1 defeat. Manager Rafael Benitez said the anxiety of possible relegation is "killing" his players. Well, the apparent lack of desire shown by the players is killing the fans. And if their beloved club do go down, then the resulting mixture of grief and rage will need no explanation.
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