Sports Editor’s blog: Who will be last man standing in Premier League title race?

Premier League Trophy. EMN-160222-112840002
Premier League Trophy. EMN-160222-112840002

I can’t recall the exact reasons for this bold stab at the hornet’s nest, although I suspect his strident allegiance to East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest had something to do with it.

Suffice to say plenty took the bait and spat back. A brave tactic in the days when reaction to an open-minded story about the anti-hunting bill was to nail a dead piece of game to the newspaper’s front door.

While not wanting to court controversy this time around I fear my next sentence may upset a few City fans once more.

I’m still to be convinced Leicester will win the Premier League. There I said it, now please don’t shoot the messenger.

While all media outlets belatedly woke up to the fact City were top of the table after their routing of season-long title favourites Manchester City, I conversely began to worry.

The hard work and energy Claudio Ranieri put in to muffling his side’s title chances and protecting his players from the dread weight of great expectations was lost.

You couldn’t turn on the telly or click online without being met by thundering headlines.

Surely dangerous thoughts of ‘what-if’ have finally crept into the minds of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez et al.

Images of trophy hoisting lurk in the subconscious. Maybe it’s even time for a tentative behind-closed-doors rehearsal of the post-presentation interview?

The prospect of victory often brings uncontrollable pressure which can do funny things, even to the best.

The burden of imminent victory is felt particularly keenly within British sport - just ask Tim Henman, any Arsene Wenger side post-2005, and even Sir Alex Ferguson’s reigning champions in 2012.

Much has been made of Leicester’s favourable run-in compared to their rivals, but if still in pole position, the last six to eight games will be entirely new territory. Every opponent will take on Barca-esque proportions.

You’d have to be a fan more one-eyed than a Cyclops not to relish a Leicester win.

But deep down I still can’t believe the granite-hearted Premier League is ultimately capable of such romance.

The Goliaths usually bludgeon their way to the top eventually.

Whatever happens, supporters of English football owe them a huge thank-you for enlivening the world’s most predictable sporting certainty.

It has been wonderful to see the modern giants have their pants pulled down by their so-called subordinates.

And despite my doubts of an eventual East Midlands coronation, I do see frailties in every team.

I can’t actually imagine any of the current contenders winning the big prize, so why not Leicester?

The magnitude of an impending championship will be new ground for players of all of the current top three, but Tottenham and Leicester have shown the greatest courage thus far.

Spurs have a very gifted coach in Pochettino and a side, like Leicester, proving that building a team can bring greater rewards than the instant gratification of megastar signings.

But they also have the hideously unhelpful Europa League to contend with.

I’m sure few tears will be shed at White Hart Lane if the accursed Thursday night football is binned off before it can cause much more harm.

The only team in contention with title-winning experience is Man City.

But their wretched injury list and form, together with the spectre of Guardiola, looks likely to leave them out of the running by the time that final crucial stretch begins.

If anything it looks marginally better set up for Arsenal.

So long a supremely gifted team which faltered like startled bunnies when its main rivals turned on the gas.

This year, if and when the mental frailty kick in, the lack of consistency elsewhere could allow the Gooners to stumble over the winning line.

Short of believing the final day of the season will be scuppered by invaders from outer space, I wouldn’t rule anything out.

But if it’s a dead heat, let Vardy call for the coin toss.