No Vardy, no problem for leaders Leicester
No Jamie Vardy, no problem for Leicester.
Even with their top-scorer suspended, the Premier League leaders still overpowered Swansea 4-0 yesterday to move another step closer to collecting the trophy.
The only team which can now catch Leicester is Tottenham, but the preseason 5,000-1 outsiders have their destiny in their own hands. Tottenham are eight points behind Leicester in second place going into today's game against West Bromwich Albion.
Regardless of what Tottenham do in their last four games, Leicester will be guaranteed the top flight for the first time in its 132-year history by collecting five points from their remaining three fixtures.
Leicester dismantled Swansea with their biggest win in three months. Vardy's replacement, Leonardo Ulloa, scored twice after Riyad Mahrez's opener and Marc Albrighton completed the rout.
"I talked to my players before the match and I said we had a dream so far, now make a dream reality," Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said. "Now is the right moment to push. If Tottenham are better than us, OK, but we have to fight because we will never have this fantastic moment (again).
"Now there are only three matches, we know they are very important for our history but for this reason we give everything. We play with our hearts and it's difficult to beat those who play with the heart and soul."
The attacking threat provided without 22-goal Vardy will have reassured the Foxes they can cope without him for longer. The England striker is waiting to discover from the English Football Association if his one-match ban will be extended over the angry reaction to being sent off in last weekend's draw against West Ham.
"Without Jamie, everyone makes something more and it was a fantastic show to see my players fight and play together," Ranieri said.
MAN CITY OUT
By extending their unbeaten run to nine games, Leicester officially knocked Manchester City and Arsenal out of the title race a year after the central England team's priority was fighting relegation.
Fourth-place Arsenal, who have gone 12 years without winning the league, were held 0-0 by Sunderland in yesterday's other game. It was a valuable point for Sunderland, who climbed out of the relegation zone by going above Norwich on goal difference.
"It is frustrating because we play to win the title," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
Arsenal's season now rests on holding on to fourth place and qualifying for the Champions League, with Manchester United five points behind in fifth place.
United also have an FA Cup final to look forward to. Louis van Gaal's side discovered yesterday that they will face Crystal Palace on May 21 in a repeat of the 1990 final.
In a semi-final overshadowed by Leicester's game, Palace beat Watford 2-1 with all three goals coming from headers. Yannick Bolasie's opener was cancelled out by Troy Deeney but Connor Wickham restored Palace's lead.
United also beat Everton 2-1 on Saturday.