The mood has really lifted around here in the few weeks since Brendan Rodgers arrived. After months of grim, sluggish football, the Foxes are starting to rediscover their swagger again. It might all be too little too late for this season but the longer-term future is looking bright again.
More of this please … Hamza Choudhury. Make no mistake, he’s going to be a top-quality player at this level, but for some reason he never seems to be able to hold down a place in the team. Yes he’s young and we do have three more experienced central midfielders, but if Rachid Ghezzal can find himself a place in the squad, Choudhury should definitely be able to.
Less of this please … The Wolves love-in. Of course they deserve a lot of credit for acclimatising to the Premier League so quickly, but it’s not quite the Cinderella story it’s being made out to be – and they’re not that good. I mean, Claude Puel managed to beat them … at home!
Predictions… We will finish: 9th. The top four: 1 Manchester City; 2 Liverpool; 3 Tottenham; 4 Arsenal; Going down: 18 Cardiff; 19 Fulham; 20 Huddersfield
Top of the league with seven games to go… it’d be crazy not to feel positive. There’ll always be doom merchants, and, yes, City have a game in hand but we have to remain confident. We’re also in the Champions League quarters and we’re playing with a maturity we haven’t had for a while. There’s a true feeling of togetherness with squad, boss and fans.
More of this please … Wins. At this stage I don’t mind how they come. More Mané dinks and chips, Salah dribbles and passes, Firmino celebrations, Van Dijk headers, Robertson and Alexander-Arnold bombing runs down the wing and more Milner Terminator-style get-ups after being brought down. And definitely fairer prices for watching your team. Yet again Liverpool fans, and those of other clubs who are known for travelling in big numbers, are being ripped off and treated like a cash cow for European fixtures. There is no excuse and Uefa needs to step in and stop it.
Less of this please … Asinine media coverage of how we’re “bottling it”. Also less unfair pricing, see above, and fewer ridiculous changes to kick-off dates and times, making it impossible for fans to plan ahead. And, of course, not so many Man City wins would be nice.
Predictions… We will finish: 1st. The top four: 1 Liverpool; 2 Man City; 3 Man United; 4 Arsenal. Going down: 18 Cardiff; 19 Fulham; 20 Huddersfield
• Steph Jones Observer reader
We’re feeling bullish. Still to be in all four competitions at this stage is phenomenal. It’s easy for fans of other clubs to point to the money spent, the “easy” cup draws or our (admittedly incredible) squad depth but this is exactly what can happen if you win your Champions League group and take the domestic cup competitions seriously. We’re also the first team to sustain a proper title defence since Ferguson’s United in 2011-12, which shows how difficult it is to challenge on multiple fronts. Personally I think the quadruple will be a stretch – particularly when you consider our April fixture logjam – but even to be talking about it as a semi-realistic possibility is ridiculous. Viva Pep.
More of this please … The same. We’re on a run of 19 wins in 20 games. In an ideal world I’d like to see Bernardo Silva play centrally more often but I’d also like to see Foden get more game time as he’s clearly ready. And finally, more of De Bruyne and Mendy. It’d be great to see them back to full fitness with regular game time under their belts.
Less of this please … Fan violence towards players, and Jürgen Klopp blaming the wind. The latter is pretty funny, though.
Predictions… We will finish 1st. The top four: 1 Man City; 2 Liverpool; 3 Tottenham; 4 Arsenal. Going down: 18 Cardiff; 19 Fulham; 20 Huddersfield
To channel Humphrey Bogart: “We’ll always have Paris.” The PSG result was the greatest moment since Fergie retired – almost payback for all the dull football we’ve had to endure from the previous managers before Ole came back. Solskjær has rejuvenated the squad and restored the spirit, the football is fast and incisive, the gameplans are good and he’s shown faith in our young players. We’re better defensively, our game management is much improved, and the players are adapting to different systems. In short, he’s been absolutely brilliant. The board will have a riot on their hands if they don’t appoint him full time.
More of this please … Fast-flowing attacking football with Rashford leading the line. I’d also like to see Ole continue to give playing time to the likes of Garner, Gomes, Greenwood and Chong. They all appear to have bright futures and could save us a fortune in the transfer market. And I’d like more of Fred, too. He was excellent in Paris and needs games to build up his confidence.
Less of this please … Semi-finals at Wembley. It totally devalues the ultimate goal for fans to get there for the final. Surely this wouldn’t be hard to change.
Predictions… We will finish: 4th. The top four: 1 Man City; 2 Liverpool; 3 Tottenham; 4 Man United. Going down: 18 Brighton; 19 Fulham; 20 Huddersfield
• Shaun O’Donnell Observer reader
It’s a positive mood here … tempered by some familiar Mike Ashley-shaped worries. We’ve recovered from a poor first half of the season to produce some outstanding performances, from the gritty trench warfare of Man City at home to a breathtaking comeback against Everton. We have new heroes (Salomón Rondón, Miguel Almirón, Fabian Schär), we’ve seen local lad Sean Longstaff break through, and we’ve witnessed Rafa get every last drop from players like Isaac Hayden and Ayoze Pérez. Fans are enjoying going to the match again… and that’s a huge achievement. Of course, if Rafa goes, that changes everything – and with takeover talk again receding, it doesn’t look as if our financial knight in shining armour will be arriving any time soon.
More of this please … Almirón on the ball, given his pace, nous and quick thinking. And when (and if) we reach safety, it would be great to see whether Yoshinori Muto and Antonio Barreca can cut it.
Less of this please … Silly mistakes … and giving away penalties and free- kicks. We’ve been punished by lapses in concentration and committed too many stupid fouls. It’s frustrating, especially as we can play with such solidity.
Predictions… We will finish 13th. The top four: 1 Man City; 2 Liverpool; 3 Arsenal; 4 Man United. Going down: 18 Cardiff; 19 Fulham; 20 Huddersfield
• Richard & David Holmes Observer readers
The mood now is about as good as it’s been all season, I think, after the second-half turnaround against Spurs – a team we’ve had an appalling record against since coming back up in 2012. Strange how little moments change the mood: at half-time in that game we were back in the bottom three having been abysmal in the first half. But to beat a side in the quarter-finals of the Champions League should now give the team enough belief to stay clear of danger. The only concern would be the momentum gained might be lost due to the enforced three-week break.
More of this please … James Ward-Prowse finding the top corner with free-kicks, more of not having to rely on non-goalscoring strikers for our goals, and more vaguely competent defending.
Less of this please … Kevin Friend (seriously, how is that bloke still in a job?); throwing away points from winning positions (20 at the last count); Neil Warnock; and less of Liverpool being genuine contenders, because let’s face it, who really wants to hear about them actually winning something? They’ll be unbearable – and unfortunately we’ll have enabled it with our previously superior scouting and player development.
Predictions… We will finish: 14th. The top four: 1 Man City; 2 Liverpool; 3 Arsenal; 4 Chelsea. Going down: 18 Cardiff; 19 Fulham; 20 Huddersfield
The stadium saga has cast a shadow over all else: nobody really cares that we didn’t sign any players; no matter we were chasing four trophies come January and now it’s just the one; that suddenly, thanks to a run that has left us with one point from 12, a top-four place no longer looks the certainty it did a few games ago. The place their club is based is integral to the identity of football fans everywhere and Wembley just isn’t where our history lies, where our heart is. Like ET, Daniel Levy has at last pointed a glowing finger towards N17 and said the word. It’s ground zero, time to reset. We’re going home.
More of this please … Jan Vertonghen showed against Dortmund how to step up on the big occasion. If the rest can follow his lead, anything could happen in the Champions League. But we also need to take more games by the scruff of the neck earlier, rather than relying on time-wasting naughty ballboys as we did against Watford. Although that knowing wink afterwards was priceless.
Less of this please … Injuries haven’t helped but we can also ill afford more clangers like the one conjured up by Kieran Trippier and Hugo Lloris against Chelsea. It even had Spurs fans laughing in disbelief.
Predictions… We will finish: 3rd. The top four: 1 Man City; 2 Liverpool; 3 Tottenham; 4 Man United. Going down: 18 Cardiff; 19 Fulham; 20 Huddersfield
• Richard Barnes @barnesrichard
With five home games left, we’ve a good chance of being the best of the rest and should, in any case, achieve our best finish since the mid-80s. Add in a Cup semi-final that both sides will see as winnable – always a great recipe – plus a compelling, vibrant, likeable side, a placid, sensible coach and a generally well-run club … Yeah, we’re doing OK.
More of this please … Troy pummelling defences. Ben Foster grinning. Gray charging off the bench to grab a winner. Janmaat rampaging down the flank, knocking opponents around like an angry rhinoceros. Holebas swinging in screaming crosses and scowling after them. Capoue and Doucouré stomping over any midfield silly enough to take them on. Will Hughes’ high-speed, high-precision mischief. Pereyra conducting opponents like a matador. Cathcart trying his hand at being a forward because just defending is too easy. Adrian Mariappa.
Less of this please … Crystal Palace, mostly. Leeds, too. Also less of pundits focusing on tedious detail. Less of talking about VAR as if “getting it right” was all that mattered, as if there wasn’t a cost, maybe, to the feel, to the energy of a game. Less in the way of long queues for coffee. Have I mentioned Crystal Palace?
Predictions… We will finish: 7th. The top four: 1 Man City; 2 Liverpool; 3 Tottenham; 4 Man United. Going down: 18 Cardiff; 19 Huddersfield; 20 Fulham
Pellegrini seems to have returned us to the days of Ron Greenwood, where we defend terribly then try to outscore the opposition. Home form has improved, away form has been terrible – a mixed bag, then. Pellegrini has work to do to remedy that but it’s good that he’s given kids like Grady Diangana a chance. Overall, mid-table security is progress but, with £100m invested, West Ham need to do more next season. And our exit from the FA Cup was pathetic.
More of this please … Moments of genius from the inconsistent Felipe Anderson; continued quality from the newly English Declan Rice, who excels despite having not much of a defence behind him; six-yard-box goals from Chicharito; and a run in the side for Nasri. Meanwhile, naming a stand after Billy Bonds has helped the atmosphere and feel of the ground, but it’s a work in progress. I’d like to see more of the planned claret carpet around the pitch, still apparently being hand-woven by Karren Brady and David Sullivan.
Less of this please … Kamikaze defending and feeble capitulations; Marko Arnautovic flirting with China; Wilshere and Carroll in the treatment room; fans leaving games early; and season ticket price hikes. Mine has gone up £65.
Predictions… We will finish: 9th. The top four: 1 Liverpool; 2 Man City; 3 Tottenham; 4 Arsenal. Going down: 18 Cardiff; 19 Fulham; 20 Huddersfield
This season’s gone about as well as it could have so far: plenty of highs, very, very few lows. We’ve just had our biggest win in a very long time, and we have a seventh-place league finish in our sights. It’s been just amazing progress under Nuno Espírito Santo. Without overstating things, it feels like we’re truly blessed to be able to watch what is our best team in decades.
More of this please … Besides ongoing FA Cup success in the next few weeks, I’m hoping to sit back as a neutral and enjoy a proper Premier League title race that goes to the final day. They’re two fantastic teams. Whichever one of them finishes second will inevitably be labelled bottlers, which is totally undeserved.
Less of this please … Television, radio and podcast discussions about VAR and minor controversies. Brian Clough was right all those years ago: “I suggest you just shut up and show more football.”
Predictions… We will finish: 7th. The top four: 1 Man City; 2 Liverpool; 3 Arsenal; 4 Man United. Going down: 18 Cardiff; 19 Fulham; 20 Huddersfield