Leicester City clinched the Premier League title after defending champions Chelsea held runners-up Tottenham Hotspur to a 2-2 draw by Chelsea on Monday night, but debate quickly raged over the credentials of the new champions. While many perceive the Foxes’ tactics as a successful homage to late 90s football, many consider Tottenham as more worthy champions due to their attractive attacking approach.
Leicester won the Premier League crown without topping the possession stats, scoring the most goals or conceding the fewest. They were the worst passing side in the division according to the season’s statistics but did top the charts with their combative attributes. No team made more tackles (1230) interceptions (783), blocked passes (291) or blocked crosses (165) in the league than Leicester, and from that it’s clear to see where their strengths lie.
However, such a style doesn’t translate into attractive football on the pitch, and Leicester are happy to go lengthy periods without the ball before springing into life on the break. It would do a disservice to the Foxes to be so critical of an effective playing style given they’ve won the Premier League title, but one can still argue that Tottenham Hotspur are easier to the eye.
Spurs have been a joy to watch. The Londoners boast high levels of fitness to press the opposition high up the pitch, and their free-flowing attacking football has lit up the Premier League. In complete contrast to Leicester, the fullbacks are given license to roam up the pitch, and the wide men are drawn inside to supplement the attack. They play an attractive brand of football, but at times have lacked the necessary punch to break down an organised outfit.
It’s worth noting that Leicester picked up four points against Tottenham in their two league games, so it could be argued that the Foxes’ style is much more efficient than their competition. Nevertheless, many neutrals fell in love with Tottenham during the second-half of the season when they really clicked into gear with a risk-taking style of football, and their seasonal performance with such a young squad has merits maximum marks.
Tottenham have scored the second-most amount of goals in the Premier League this season while conceding the least. They’ve suffered only four defeats in total and have lost just once in the division since January. Their energetic displays and dominant style have seen them pick up big results against the top sides. They beat Manchester City twice and have remained unbeaten home and away to Liverpool, Arsenal, and Chelsea while recently defeats Manchester United at Old Trafford.
They say the Premier League doesn’t lie and that the best side are top after 38 games, but there’s still an itching feeling that Tottenham deserved something for the football on display in Mauricio Pochettino’s second season. They gelled faster than he had anticipated, and the future looks bright if they can continue progressing. The two overachieving sides have had an English frontman – Jamie Vardy (Leicester) and Harry Kane (Tottenham) – in prolific form to help their rise up the table, but that’s where the similarities end.
Tottenham have played the better football perhaps worthy of them being champions, but Leicester City have been much more effective.