Leicester shock the world (again)
Leicester City hit such heights on Monday night that it was at times easy to forget the Foxes had started the match mired in the relegation zone. It was a performance filled with tremendous urgency, drive, and togetherness that had seldom been seen from Leicester this season. Just five days after title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri had been sacked, Leicester conjured up last season’s form and comprehensively beat Liverpool 3-1 at the King Power. It was a stunning turnaround from a side that had failed to scored a goal in the entirety of 2017, a lengthy drought spanning more than ten hours of competitive football. Even more remarkably, Leicester’s last Premier League result was an insipid loss at Swansea; the performance on Monday night was light years removed from that embarrassment.
Leicester bamboozled the Reds thanks to standout performances from last season’s stars who have faded this year. Jamie Vardy harassed Liverpool’s makeshift backline of Lucas and Joel Matip all match, scoring two classy goals in the process. Danny Drinkwater, who like Vardy has been a shadow of his title-winning self, also chipped in with a stunning first-time volley in an altogether impressive showing.
The victory lifts Leicester out of the bottom three, yet also raises awkward questions. Some questioned where this form was all season, wondering whether the players had turned on Ranieri when the results started to worsen. Regardless, the Foxes need to replicate Monday night’s win for their relegation run-in if they want to remain the Premier League.
Palace grind out crucial victory as Middlesbrough slide down table
The relegation race is heating up, and just as teams in the bottom three seem to be getting results, Middlesbrough are slipping into trouble. Crystal Palace churned out a tight, yet vitally important 1-0 win over Boro on the weekend, momentarily lifting the Eagles out of the relegation zone. A first half goal from January signing Patrick van Aanholt granted Palace the lead, which they would narrowly protect to see out the match.
Worryingly for Boro, the loss against Palace marked their ninth straight league match without a win; their last victory came in mid-December against Swansea. With Palace, Swansea, Leicester, and Hull all seemingly turning a corner, Middlesbrough might easily be roped into the relegation dogfight. Yet in their next five matches, they face Sunderland, Hull, and Swansea; three crucial six-pointers which will decide their fate.