Though they toiled in League One as recently as 2009, it no longer comes as a surprise to football fans everywhere to see Leicester Cityâ€™s name in the top four of the Premier League.
In fact, the Foxes have been ever-present in the Champions League places for the whole 2020/21 season, and led the league after eight matches. Heading into the run-in they have a chance to undo the mistakes of last year â€“ when a late-season slump saw them finish fifth â€“ by seeing out a blistering campaign. That would, in the process, shut out at least three of Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, and defending league champions Liverpool from the top four.
Elsewhere, a date with Chelsea at Wembley looms large on the calendar. The latest FA Cup odds place them 13/5 outsiders to best Thomas Tuchelâ€™s tough defensive unit, with Brendan Rodgers hoping to inspire his side to a first-ever FA Cup trophy in club history.
Punters looking at football tips will see Leicester as good value in that final, however. This is a team that has proved this season it can beat anyone on its day â€“ Manchester United are the only so-called â€˜Big Sixâ€™ team yet to lose to Leicester at least once this campaign.
How unfitting it would have been to play a European Super League without them.
A 5,000-1 Shot
The title-winning Leicester City side of 2015/16 has gone down in the annals of history as one of the most unlikely underdog stories ever, not only in football but in sport worldwide.
Tipped by most pundits for relegation at the beginning of the season, the Foxes under Claudio Ranieri instead pulled off a string of incredible performances â€“ among them a 3-1 dismantling of Manchester City at the Etihad â€“ on their way to an impossible title.
The European Super League, for the two days it existed, sought to do away with stories like that. Leicester winning the Premier League is not a profitable venture for the executives at the top clubs; it reminds them too much of the fleeting nature of football. It reminds them that the Premier League â€˜Big Sixâ€™ era too will pass, as did the Don Revie Leeds United side of the 1960s and 70s. As did Aston Villa and Nottingham Forestâ€™s status as giants of Europe.
Leicesterâ€™s title win in 2015/16 was not merely a bolt of lightning, a 5000-1 shot. It was the beginning of something. An evolution for a storied football club.
YES! A first FA Cup final for 52 years for @lcfc. 137 years without lifting the trophy. If they do win the final, Iâ€™m absolutely certain that Iâ€™ll not be able to hold it together on air.
â€” Gary Lineker ðŸ’™ (@GaryLineker) April 18, 2021
Quality Throughout the Squad in 2021
If Leicester do win the FA Cup this season, it would be the mark of how far the team has come â€“ what was once a team of plucky underdogs is now a European side flush with international quality in the likes of Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi.
The depth of the squad has shone through despite some poor luck with injuries. One of the stars of that title-winning side, Jamie Vardy, has 13 league goals despite missing time, while breakout star Harvey Barnes was ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
Fortunate, then, that the Foxes have received big-time contributions from Kelechi Iheanacho. The Nigerian striker has enjoyed his best season in a Leicester shirt, firing 10 goals in only 8 matches through March and April to help prevent another late-season slide.
An unlikely European berth over their big-spending rivals would put Leicester in a strong position going into 2021/22, with no pressure to sell the brightest performers in their young squad.
And the prospect of this Leicester side getting even better is something that surely scares the established top order in the Premier League.