Leicester are reminiscent of Chelsea's 2004 team

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As Leicester City closed in on the Premier League title with a 2-0 win at Sunderland on April 10, Claudio Ranieri was rightly overwhelmed by the occasion and was seen to shed a few tears of joy. That was the moment when Ranieri probably started to believe that the Foxes might actually win the league, having opened up a ten point gap at the top.

It was reminiscent of the time when his Chelsea side defeated Arsenal's 'invincibles' at Highbury to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2004. On that occasion, Ranieri celebrated with joy and just as at Sunderland, was not able to hide his emotions.

Similarities between the two events

On both occasions, Ranieri's team was widely considered as the underdogs and most people had written them off.


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During the 2003/2004 campaign, Arsenal had defeated Chelsea three times before meeting in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. That same Gunners team went through the league season unbeaten, winning the title in the process.

Understandably, no one gave Chelsea the slightest chance of overcoming the Gunners, especially after a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

However, Ranieri's men produced one of the biggest upsets of the season and came from a goal behind to beat them 2-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate. All the players, as well as Ranieri, were absolutely jubilant with the win. That game has gone down as one of the greatest Chelsea games.

Similarly, Leicester were also considered as outsiders this season but their form never seemed to dip as they grew from strength to strength.

To say that Leicester were deemed underdogs would be a huge understatement, having narrowly escaped relegation only last May. Many are still coming to terms with the success the Foxes have achieved.

Another similarity between the two teams was their fearlessness in approaching big games.

Due to their relative underdog status, Chelsea approached the game with Arsenal and most games throughout that season with very less pressure as they were not expected to challenge for the major trophies.

That logic applies even more to this Leicester team who were expected to get relegated, much less challenge for the title.

Chelsea boasted big names and Abramovich's billions

The major difference between the two events is that Leicester do not nearly have the same quality of players as the Chelsea side, at least on paper.

Chelsea had world-class players in their ranks including Frank Lampard, John Terry, Marcel Desailly, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, William Gallas, Juan Sebastian Veron, Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele and Joe Cole among a few others.

Many of these players had experience playing in the World Cup, European Championships, and the Champions League as well as competing for league titles with other clubs.

Leicester, on the other hand, boast no such glamour. The only players who had played for relatively top sides were Robert Huth and Kasper Schmeichel.

Huth featured for Chelsea a few times during their title-winning seasons in 2005 and 2006. However, he was not able to cement his place in the main team. Schmeichel spent some of his early years at Manchester City but was not able to gain a regular place in the first team.

Leicester's three best players - Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N'golo Kante, put together, cost less than £8 million, whereas just Hernan Crespo cost Chelsea £16.8 million.

Magnitude of the achievement

Both events point to the fact that Ranieri is a quality manager, who has the ability to cause huge upsets. It also shows how much the results mean to him and that he is 100% committed to the club that he manages.

In 2004, Chelsea fell short of both Premier League and Champions League trophies by a whisker, but that season paved the way for a future of enormous success at the club.

Jose Mourinho gets the plaudits for winning Chelsea their first league title in 50 years but it was Ranieri who created the base for that achievement.

He is en route to achieving something similar at Leicester. Winning the title with the Foxes could change the landscape of the Premier League as well as the future of the club.

With six games remaining, its difficult to see Leicester dropping ten points and true soccer fans, even if Tottenham and Arsenal supporters refuse to admit it, some will be secretly wishing that Leicester clinch the title.

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Leicester City
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