Since the 5000-1 miracle of Jamie Vardy and co being crowed league champions with 81 points, the 90-mark has been broken in every campaign since as Man City and Liverpool redefine what it takes to be title winners.
By this point of Leicester’s title-winning season, 18 matchdays in, they were already perched at the summit despite suffering a 1-0 Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool.
Brendan Rodgers’ current crop have superseded that vintage in every respect – four more goals scored, 11 fewer let in, one point better off – except in the standings where it matters most.
They will size up Jurgen Klopp’s side on Boxing Day again this year, but the circumstances have altered considerably since 2015. Leicester, a more formidable prospect now, trail the Premier League’s pacesetters by 10 points having held an 11-point advantage over them back then.
The benchmark has shifted to a staggering level since that 5000-1 miracle of Jamie Vardy and co being crowed champions. They needed just 81 points to lift the trophy in 2015-16 with the 90-mark broken every campaign since, first by Chelsea (93) and then consecutively by Manchester City (100, 98).
Liverpool suffered only one defeat – to Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering machine – last season and finished on 97; the highest total not to win the league.
Rodgers and his Leicester side are finding out just how exacting the battle is at the top. Bettering the greatest performance in the club’s history is not good enough and losing at City, as they did on Saturday, feels fatalistic.
“I have a great perspective of where we are and respect the level we are at and the improvement we have to make,” the Northern Irishman, who was at the Anfield helm between 2012 to 2015, said.
“The likes of Liverpool and Manchester City are a great benchmark for us and a lot of teams at this level and we have to constantly fight to improve and try to get close to that level.”
When asked if the standard to be title winners has been recalibrated due to the continuous brilliance of his team and Guardiola’s, Klopp underlined the achievement of the defending champions in dictating the new status quo.
“I think City moved the bar massively, massively,” he said. “The kind of consistency they showed in the last three years is incredible and difficult, very difficult to do. So they became champions two years ago and last year we helped a lot and they helped us as a lot as we tried to catch up with them. They did it in an incredible way.
“It has changed, it is not allowed to lose games anymore. It is difficult, obviously, but winning the Premier League should be difficult, it is such a strong league with all the teams you see now.”
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