Let’s try to put it into Historical perspective, look at the highest EPL odds for the 2016/17 EPL season and make Value & Longshot soccer picks while the 2015/16 season is still wrapping up.
Jamie Vardy and Leicester City didn’t even play on Monday but the Foxes ended up winning their first Top Flight English Football championship in the club’s 132 year history when Chelsea rallied from a 2-0 Halftime deficit to earn a 2-2 Draw with Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in West London, eliminating Spurs from any potential title in a physical Derby that often resembled a Rugby match more than a Soccer game.
And coming through in a Futures Bet market which opened the Foxes at 5,000/1 in some UK sportsbooks, Leicester City’s is not only a tale of the Little Club beating the Big Clubs in the end, but also of the small Sports Gamblers (or punters) who took shots on a longshot and now not only have some Life-changing money, but a tale to tell for years to come and the biggest of all betting Bragging Rights.
Every Once in Awhile Fairy Tales Happen and This Will Never-Ever Happen Again
Three-hundred and eighty-two days ago today, Leicester City sat precariously in last place in the English Premier League, destined to be just another perceived small-town club whose name almost everyone would soon forget who was promoted to England’s top flight of football only to cruelly be kicked right back down to where they came from in probably Professional Sports most beautiful evolutionary reality.
On Monday, with Chelsea’s 2-2 Draw with Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in West London, Leicester City (22-11-3, 77 points) officially won the Premier League championship in the last match of Week 36, making any dramatic ruining of the Fairy Tale by Harry Kane and the 2nd-place Spurs (19-13-4, 70 points) now a mathematical impossibility. And the opening odds of 5,000/1 in some British sportsbooks like William Hill have helped provide what obviously looks to be the clear-cut biggest long-shot to ever come through in a single game or for a single season in the Future Books.
Earlier reports had William Hill losing over $13 million should the Foxes have won that unlikely Silverware. And they did. But one big difference between Leicester City’s historic Futures Books odds achievement is that the Foxes didn’t have to play through a Playoffs or in a Championship Game or had to duke it out in a Boxing Ring like Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas did back in the day.
The nature of the points-accumulation system in the Premier and other European Soccer Leagues mixed with some really apathetic play by all five of the Usual Suspects in the EPL—Arsenal, defending champions Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, winners of all but one (Blackburn Rovers) EPL crowns—as well as Spurs just not being able to come through all combined to open up the door for Leicester City to make this incredibly historic run. First place was a spot the Foxes simply would not relinquish.
And this was no fluke for those not paying attention. And it also really wasn’t a foregone conclusion either that Leicester City would mathematically clinch should Tottenham have held onto its 2-0 Halftime lead against Chelsea at SW6 on Monday and ended up winning (and earning 3 points) and not Drawing with the Blues, which rallied with two 2nd Half goals from Gary Cahill and substitute Eden Hazard, who at the 83-minute mark broke the hearts of many a Spurs fan and made electric the bars and pubs around the world watching this History, including those in Leicester City. Hazard could now run for Mayor in Leicester and win. So exactly who is Leicester City and where did they come from and how did this all happen and will we ever see Odds of 5,000/1 again? Time to brew yet another pot of Coffee, order some Pizza and Chicken Pasta Soup and jump into The Lab here and try to explain it all. It’s complex.
About Leicester, Leicester City, Manager Claudio Ranieri,the Foxes Roster, Path
The city of Leicester (pronounced Lester) is located 89 miles northwest of London in the East Midlands area of England on the River Soar and the 2011 census had 333,000 people living in Leicester making it the 11th largest urban area in the United Kingdom. Wikipedia also says that “It [Leicester] is also the home of the 2015-16 Premier League champions, Leicester City, FC.”
The Internet is a (sometimes) Wonderful and Speedy thing and the old adage which says that Lies travel faster than the Truth needs some comparison with Pride which seems to travel faster than them both. Recognize. As far as Leicester City even being in this position to pull off this feat, well that’s another story that has to be told to understand and get the full context of the Foxes becoming just the 6th team to win the Premier League (Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United).
As mentioned, 382 days ago Leicester City (40/1 to win 2016/17 English Premier League, Paddy Power) was sitting in 20th and dead last place in the EPL, surely soon to be Relegated and right back where they came from and simply a blip on the Sports radar. But the Foxes—founded way back in 1884 as Leicester Fosse FC after playing on a field near Fosse Road—pulled off the “The Great Escape,” winning 7 of their L9 matches last season to escape potential Relegation and finish with an 11-9-19 Record (46 GF-55 GA) and in 14th place, and still up safe in the Premier League to make all that History actually happen on Monday.
Leicester City also found themselves in 20th and last place in the Premier League table on Christmas Day last season with just 10 Points earned from 17 matches played but the Foxes rallied strongly over the L20 matches of season to be able to stay up in England’s Top Flight thanks to that Great Escape. And the Foxes barely returned to the EPL after a decade after being promoted from the Championship by squeezing through when QPR couldn’t produce a late equalizer against AFC Bournemouth in the last game of the season. It’s almost unbelievable looking back at that little fact now with all that has transpired so quickly.
Leicester City, then coached by Nigel Pearson, had an impressive 21-match unbeaten run to put themselves in a position to even have that chance. And to think, if The Hoops had scored and earned a Draw against the Cherries, we would have witnessed none of this beauty this particular season and none of this 5,000/1 talk. The little things in Life, right? Always. Always.
And this was no fluke either with lovable Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and Manager Claudio Ranieri being the guiding light throughout yet seldom getting the Press he deserved for what was happening week-after-week and month-after-month. The calm, 64-year-old Italian—who had Lunch with his 96-year-old Mother it Italy on Monday before watching the Chelsea-Tottenham match—had created a hard-working club able to win low-scoring, 1-goal matches, protect its Home turf, play great Defense and not suffer any Losing Streaks. There was and is absolutely nothing fishy about Attrition and earning 1 or 3 points almost every week of a 38-week EPL season.
And could the Foxes players get a little Love for the love of Pelé? Mercy. Legendary Chelsea DB John Terry had 7 of the 11 players on his EPL Team of the Year from Leicester City including Danish GK Kasper Schmeichel, CB Robert Huth, CB Wes Morgan, MF Riyad Mahrez, MF Danny Drinkwater, MF N'Golo Kanté and, of course, F Jamie Vardy. And when you have two of the league’s Top 5 scorers on your attack—just like the Golden State Warriors with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson—in Vardy (22 goals) and the electric Mahrez (17 goals)—, as well as players like Leonardo Ulloa (5 goals) and Shinji Okazaki (5 goals), then you have the type of gutty team to beat all comers in the league despite Manchester City spending so much money and loading its Roster with new players like Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne.
And City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all had to worry about playing UEFA Champions League soccer while 2nd-place side Tottenham (8/1 to win EPL 2016/17, 888sport) had to expend much Energy and Time playing in the UEFA Europa League. So, the Foxes had both the Players on their Roster and the Time and Rest compared to the Big Dogs this season. But still, the meteoric rise and performance of Vardy and Mahrez could have never be predicted, not even by Leicester City fans living in Leicester wearing Leicester City underwear and members of the Optimists Club. This team was just happy to be up in the lucrative EPL, and like so many years when 5,000/1 odds never hurt the Sportsbooks, the number seemed right on and a good way to attract some heart-driven bets. Not this time.
But a good start would be needed, and that’s exactly what this club got. And in the end, the numbers just don’t lie. This Little Engine That Could club so deserves this championship. Leicester City has lost just 3 games—the lowest number in the Premier League and less Losses than La Liga giants Real Madrid (4) and Cristiano Ronaldo and defending European holders Barcelona (5) and Lionel Messi as well as Italian Serie A champions Juventus (5). As a matter of fact, the only team in a major European league with fewer Losses right now than Leicester City is Fußball-Club Bayern München (2) from Germany’s Bundesliga.
So, they’re for real. And the Foxes—who have lost just 1 game at Home and have outscored opponents equally at Home (32-17) as on the Road (32-17)—will be playing UEFA Champions League football next season. So Ranieri and this club earned this just like all things earned are earned. And how did the Foxes do against the Premier League’s four Big Dogs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United)? Fantastic, outside of Arsenal which beat Leicester City twice (5-2, 2-1) and handed the Foxes that only Home Loss at King Power, going an unbeaten 2-3-0 in 5 matches with the Blues, Red Devils and Sky Blues with the (now meaningless) Season Finale at Chelsea still on tap.
And the Foxes and GK extraordinaire Schmeichel allowed only 4 goals in this five matches against mighty defending champions Chelsea, City and United. Some teams allow 4 goals in a single game to these high-dollar clubs. So, if you think this was some kind of Fluke or Fishy, please recognize what Hard Work and not Losing week-in and week-out can do for a Professional Sports team in a league with no Playoffs. Math is simple. And with the Soccer Odds (in Europe) steadily drifting down from that much-publicized opening high of 5,000-to-1—the Westgate Vegas SuperBook and similar sportsbooks here in Sin City opened Leicester City at 2,500/1—not only did the few lucky Sports Gamblers who gobbled up the 5,000/1 as their Soccer Pick when it was there get in on this Unexpected and Miraculous Leicester City 2016 Silverware Party, but everyone else who bet the Foxes all the way down will also be rewarded. This was something massive and unprecedented.