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Leicester claim Christmas top spot after Everton win

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Claudio Ranieri and Leicester City ensured they would be at the top of the Premier League table for Christmas with a 3-2 victory at Goodison Park.

This means the Foxes have set yet another record; becoming the first team in Premier League history to be bottom of the table at Christmas in one year and top in the next.

It was Riyad Mahrez who inspired this victory for Leicester as he converted two penalties, making it six goals in his last three games.

Marcin Wasilewski came in for the suspended Robert Huth, while Shinji Okazaki earned his place back and Andy King came in for the injured Danny Drinkwater, so it was a real test of Leicester’s depth.

After a fairly open start, the breakthrough came midway through the first half when Okazaki did well to get his body in front of Ramiro Funes Mori to win a penalty. Despite Tim Howard being at full stretch, Mahrez’s spot kick was too well placed to keep out.

The Toffees pulled a goal back less than five minutes later when Romelu Lukaku was left in space to score for the seventh consecutive game. It was a soft goal to concede from a Leicester point of view as the defence did so well to prevent Ross Barkley from scoring seconds earlier.

Leicester grew into the game massively and dominated from the beginning of the second period. They were rewarded just past the hour-mark when Jamie Vardy made one of his famous runs behind the defence before being tripped by Howard. Mahrez stepped up again and confidently placed the ball into the back of the net.

With Everton on the ropes, the Foxes continued with their high pressing and forced a mistake from the opposition defence. The ball fell to Vardy who unselfishly picked out Okazaki to give the visitors a two-goal lead.

The home side finished the game the stronger of the two with a spell of pressure and they set up a nail-biting final ten minutes when Kevin Mirallas pulled a goal back after another goalmouth scramble. The Foxes were able to hold on for the win, making it 10 out of a possible 12 points so far in their supposed tough run of fixtures.

Arsenal face Manchester City on Monday evening in a top of the table clash meaning Leicester currently have a five-point lead at the top of the table, guaranteeing the top spot for Christmas.

Injured Leicester midfielder Drinkwater had to sit this match out after having to leave the field early against Chelsea, but he was still there to show his support as he watched the game in the away end with the fans.

Ranieri’s target of 40 points could be reached in the 18th game of the season as his side travel back up to Liverpool on Boxing Day for another tough test at Anfield.

Considering the contrast in league positions from this time last year to now, it will no doubt be a very happy Christmas in Leicester next week.

Kevin Mirallas Romelu Lukaku Shinji Okazaki

About Mark Sheppard

I am an 18-year-old Journalism and Media student at De Montfort University, Leicester. I enjoy writing, especially about sport because my interests involve football, snooker, rugby, F1 and tennis.

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