Leicester continue to pass nearly every test put in their path. Two games in five days at White Hart Lane have been navigated with their name still in the hat for the fourth round draw of the FA Cup and far more importantly, another three league points in the bag. After 21 matches they now have 43 league points and that is two more than the 41 they earned in the entire 38 match program of last season. In context with the less than prolific form of the entire division anyone that thinks the Foxes are not granite league and certainly Champions League place candidates has not been watching English football this season. Saturday sees them travel to Villa Park where there hosts are still getting over the shock of actually winning a football match thanks to a goalkeeping howler that would have seen Wayne Hennessy dropped from your local futsal team. The reverse of this fixture back in September was a remarkable game of football. Villa battered Claudio Ranieri’s side with Jack Grealish looking like a super star and the visitors were 2-0 up with 28 minutes to play. Quite how Tim Sherwood’s side contrived to lose the game from there will forever remain a mystery but that 28 minutes of football has defined both Leicester and Aston Villa’s entire seasons. From that day forward, Leicester seemingly never know when they are beaten, Villa always know they are. Next season the only way these teams will face each other is via a cup tie and Jamie Vardy will be relishing the prospect of getting back on the score sheet with his first goal in six games.
Plenty of knee-jerk merchants jumping on the Wayne Rooney is back bandwagon after the brace against Newcastle. He isn’t and remains more part of the problem than the solution to Manchester United’s woes. He’s not alone in that bracket though. Marouane Fellaini is a decent footballer without a position to play in. He has declined into neither a top class midfielder nor acceptable Premier League striker and Louis Van Gaal’s perseverance with him has thrown up some telling stats. When the Belgian with the big hair has featured for United in the league they are averaging 0.9 points per game, without him that rises to 2.4. Relegation fodder with, title contenders without. Presumably Van Gaal has that nugget of information on the over-sized leather folder he carries with him everywhere in which case it is hard to see Fellaini featuring in the weekend’s flagship clash as United go to Anfield. If he does, on the evidence of his display against the Toon he is a red card waiting to happen in a fixture best remembered last year for seeing Steven Gerrard sent off 38 seconds after coming on as a half time substitute.
The biggest transfer of the window so far has seen Jonjo Shelvey’s combined transfer values reach 20 million. The talent is unquestionable the attitude is. With the money in the Premier League today I am always surprised that more young players do not fail to fulfil their potential with the temptations that lay in their path. It would be a travesty if that fate befell a player who is still only 23 and has already seen his elder brother fall by the footballing wayside. Alan Shearer is entitled to question the signing but Newcastle are skating on very thin ice and some gambles need to be taken. If Shelvey clicks on Tyneside and triggers a relegation saving run for the Toon, 12 million will seem a steal and he could yet play a part for England in France at Euro 2016.
I’ll leave you with this week’s transfer poppycock which in a slight twist is managerial. The Daily Mirror in the UK report that Mauricio Pochettino is on Manchester United’s wish list to replace Louis Van Gaal. That would be the same Pochettino who has failed to progress Spurs and capitalize on this freak of a season. A wasted opportunity for Tottenham that won’t be seen again for quite some time and he will not be the next United manager.