Tottenham and Leicester have been the Premier League's two biggest surprise packages this season, but they have very different secrets behind their success.
England's top two largely have their managers to thank for their upturn in fortunes, but Claudio Ranieri and Mauricio Pochettino could not be further apart in terms of their approaches.
No time to rest?
Tottenham's Pochettino has become known for his regime of hard graft in north London. His players have become noticeably fitter, faster and able to maintain pressure all across the pitch. Until their FA Cup exit to Crystal Palace, the Lilywhites had their sights set on an unprecedented treble, giving them very little time to rest between games.
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Ranieri, meanwhile, is far fromlax, but has allowed his squad a number of breaks this season, including a whole week off over the FA Cup weekend.
The 'tinkerman' also adopted a bizarre, but effective, tactic of buying his players pizza as a reward for keeping clean sheets.
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Ranieri's playing system allows for such an approach, which would be ineffective at Tottenham. Leicester play for large periods without the ball and are far less concerned with possession than other title contenders.
Spurs, on the other hand, could not play the way Leicester play and satisfy their supporters.
It is vital that Spurs' training is physically challenging to allow them to keep pressure on the ball. Pochettino is fortunate to have more technically-gifted players to work with than Ranieri. However, that makes the Italian's record all the more remarkable.
Spurs did enjoy a Barcelona break in January, but overall, their schedule has been nothing short of gruelling. That could cause them to burn out, as they have been known to do in the last third of the season. Alternatively, though, Pochettino may have only strengthened them, both mentally and physically.
It will take until the end of the season to judge which manager has a more effective approach, particularly if either side manages to pip Arsenal and Manchester City to the title.
Regardless of silverware, both men can be rest assured that they have found a system which their respective players respond to, and will no doubt be in contention for accolades by the end of the season.
Which manager will prevail at the end of the season? Give your opinion in the comment box below?
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