The Best of the Lot
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Run the show at Foxes of Leicester (FanSided Soccer). Contributor at Cricingif.
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The Best of the Lot
Fifteen years ago, there was a clear top two in English football, as Alex Ferguson's Manchester United battled Arsene Wenger's Arsenal for supremacy. Roman Abramovich's money arrived at Chelsea and made that a top three, Sheik Mansour's petromillions made it a top four and Liverpool and Tottenham rounded it out to a top six.
If the great Sir Neville Cardus were still alive, he would have turned giddy trying to think of some superlatives that do justice to Pakistan cricket. He would be writing endless panegyrics, tearing them up, and writing some more, only to rip them to smidgens, too.
From a position where England could afford to sit back and relax on a chaise longue, they've jumped right into a maelstrom, twisting, turning and needing to pirouette their way out of what they've contrived. Sri Lanka were 7/2. Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes had once again made a brilliant start and all you could see at Headingley was English smiles.
Arsenal have become a game of whack-a-mole. The fans have turned into a group of misery guts forever mulling over the calamity that follows a fitful carnival. The Emirates stadium has transformed into the cosseting presence of perennial mediocrity. Just a few miles away stands the brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
For the second season running, Leicester's campaign was a story of three discernible halves: a start that was comforting and satisfactory, a mid-season implosion followed by a managerial change, and finally, an outro to appease the fans and leave them salivating over what is to come.
As farcical as it may sound, Leicester have never beaten Bournemouth in the Premier League. In the seven meetings between the two sides so far, the Cherries have won twice, while all that Leicester have to show is five draws.
Q. Brendan Rodgers is the new Leicester City manager. The rumours had been doing the rounds for a fairly long time but not at one stage did it feel like Rodgers would want to give up the chance to write history with Celtic Football Club - not this soon anyway.
Only a couple days back, the club was bathing in an extremely heady environment after Claude Puel's Leicester had succumbed to Crystal Palace. That seems like a long time ago now. All of a sudden, a downbeat, lowly fanbase feels reinvigorated to the extent that you can almost define it as giddy.
However, the probability of that change in effect is something that most of us have our doubts about, which is why we spoke to ESPN's France, Ligue 1 and Paris Saint-Germain correspondent, Jonathan Johnson. He knows more about Tielemans than we ever will, mind. Q.
Touted by all and sundry as the next manager unfortunate enough to take over the reins at Manchester United, Leonardo Jardim is undoubtedly the Leicester City fans' first choice to replace Claude Puel. Truth be told, if the board is serious about establishing Leicester as a "top six" club, then Jardim should be their first choice as well.
From his appointment last season to the decision to stick with him earlier this summer, we have either seen the majority dissent from the opinion held by a certain section or the latter dissent from what is perceived as right by the former. But you can't blame them for the disagreements.
It was too big an ask after the drab 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace. The fanbase had turned enervate and the team desolate - there was just no joy left at the King Power Stadium. Here we are, though.
In the space of a few terrible days, the King Power Stadium has gone from being a place with ebullience galore to one with a biting gauntness. It's almost as if ichor has been deprived of its God.
On what was an incredibly torturous, if not especially tortuous afternoon at the Krestovsky Stadium, football's most fabled darlings had nearly weathered a storm that never threatened to blow them away but stop them dead in their tracks. The yellow shirts were oozing a great degree of relief - their joy, not frustration now the most eminent feature.
For a human to be a quarter of what he is, there have to be miracles pulled off, dark arts mastered and the devil himself called upon, but this is not a human we are talking about, this is a God, but a different God, a top-drawer God.
Few jobs in the world are as stress-laden in football as the Real Madrid manager. There are arrivistes to deal with, there's always the shadow of a certain Florentino Perez looming large, there's the most barbarian fanbase demanding unprecedented levels of success, and finally, there's the ever-present success of FC Barcelona, the comparison with which has the final say on how good - or bad - you are.
The 2-0 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers has instilled a lot of confidence into Claude Puel's already ebullient side; however, the absence of Jamie Vardy - who was sent off last week - is likely to have some bearing on the team's spirit and performance alike.
Tempers were flaring back in the East Midlands - and in a certain section of the Vitality Stadium - as Leicester City got blown to smithereens at the hands of a ruthless Bournemouth, conceding their 56th, 57th, 58th, and 59th goal in 41 matches under Puel in the process.
About a month ago, it would have been a no-brainer for even the most obsequious of the Nigerian's admirers; however, his display at the FIFA World Cup - notably "that" brace against Iceland - has brought about a change in the scenario as well the fans' opinion of him.
The fee, although undisclosed, is likely to not even be a quarter of what Steve Bruce thinks may not be enough to buy Jack Grealish's right leg; however, for such a scanty amount, Claude Puel has managed to land someone who has 11 major trophies at club level, including a UEFA Champions League and three Premier League titles.
In a way, 2017/18 summed up Leicester City's stay in the Premier League: Ordinary to begin with (2014/15), jaw-dropping in the middle (2015/16) and like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, because you didn't simply know what to expect (2016/17).
The frustration is quite understandable, seeing as the Foxes neared a return to Europe not long back and were in with a great chance of finishing seventh in the Premier League - their highest ever either side of the historic 2015/16 campaign.
From the magic man that most of us would like to fondly remember him as, he is fast-becoming a virulently loathed figure at the King Power Stadium - but is he to be solely blamed for the shambolic state of affairs that he finds himself in? Put crudely, no.
The troublemaking playmaker has been on song this summer, already netting twice in three games to make Craig Shakespeare mull over what he'll lose, and how he would manage to recover from a body blow that's probably going to come at a time when he'll only have leftovers to choose from.
A year on since the Gunners' unsuccessful pursuit, Vardy still continues to be the heartbeat of this club - his passionate celebrations at the sacred King Power Stadium still the fans' favourite sight - but Mahrez seems to have his heart pounding for the comfort of The Emirates Stadium's ostentatious executive box.
Leicester City's adventures in the Premier League have mostly been about pulling off miracles and aiming for the impossible. It's almost as if living by the sword, and therefore dying by it, is their modus operandi.
It's five years since Arsenal signed Olivier Giroud from Montpellier for a meagre £12 million. Since then, hardly any player in the Premier League, or perhaps the whole of Europe, has divided opinion quite like the Frenchman, who is best known for his missed chances to some, but acknowledged for his unique attributes only by a few.
Were FIFA to conduct a separate award ceremony for the unluckiest footballers across the globe, Arsenal's Lucas Perez would run away with all the honours. The wantaway Spaniard can probably take heart from the fact that he'd join an illustrious company in doing so, but nothing would serve as a compensation for the year that he has unfortunately had to waste at Arsenal.
Arsenal got their transfer window off to a start that has been termed by every self-proclaimed erudite as a bit of a damp squib. After all, if a player doesn't cost you £50m in the current times, he is more likely to be a second-grade squad player - at least, that's what the general opinion is.
It won't be wrong to treat Arsenal's reported £120m offer for Kylian Mbappe as their valedictory wave to mediocrity, to stubbornness and to their era of parsimony. For once, Arsene Wenger has let his traditional, saintly self go to enter the modern football's preached dark-arts world and in some style.
It was always going to be a matter of time before someone brought Arsene Wenger's North London superiority to a sad end, and on Sunday, so Mauricio Pochettino emphatically did with his second win over the Frenchman in six derbies.
Ever since the Frenchman took over Castilla, one could sense that he was only another Florentino Perez-sacking away from stepping onto the Santiago Bernabeu's sacred turf as the man in charge. In came Rafael Benitez, out he went with a whimper and the prophecy was finally fulfilled with Zidane taking over the reins.
Arsenal are the subjects of feuilletons again. They are English Football's laughing stocks again, for they are destined to carry the unwanted burden of that accolade as long as they willingly choose mediocrity over excellence. It wasn't meant to be back in November, when they were riding high and going head to head with Chelsea, whom they beat 3-0 at The Emirates.
That Arsenal haven't won the UEFA Champions League despite being the possessors of some of the world's best players during the Arsene Wenger era, is beyond the understanding of anyone who has followed the sport during the past two decades.
Olivier Giroud did no harm to his ever-burgeoning reputation as Arsenal's go-to man after the Frenchman's thumping header sealed the Gunners' Old Trafford fate, in the process earning them a vital away point in a game the majority of which they looked set to lose.
There are stories, and then there are stories we will always remember. Leicester City's rise from the bottom on the Premier League is becoming the latter. From the start of the 2014-15 season to this point, 13 rounds into the campaign, the Foxes have played as title contenders do.