Is endeavour beating skill this season?

Although most pure football fans are ecstatic at Leicester being at the top of the Premier League in early December, there are more and more upsets in the league every week. Partly this is because of the TV revenues meaning that the second tier teams can buy Europe's "nearly" players whereas before they would have stayed on the Continent, and these nearly players are making significant contributions to their teams' results.

However, the other side of the coin is pure hard work by the lesser and not so lesser teams. Witness Kloppo’s gengenpressing, the fact that Bournemouth players ran a further 10km than the Chelsea players on Saturday evening and the workrate of Watford.

However, the team that encapsulates hard work and brilliant, fast counter-attacking football are the ones at the top of the tree this weekend, Leicester City. We think it’s a bit lazy to state that all the Tinkerman has done is to take Nigel Pearson’s side of last season and add a night out in the local pizzeria. N’golo Kante, whilst not of significant interest FL-wise, is absolutely key to Leicester’s success with miles more interceptions than any other EPL player and 50% more than Monreal at Arsenal.

And having won the ball back, Leicester just leg it towards the opposition goal – quickly. As the Guardian pointed out in their match report this weekend,

“Only Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion have enjoyed less possession than Leicester’s 44.2% per game, and they have the worst pass-completion rate in the league, a shadow over 71%. But why worry about ball retention when you have such blistering pace and clinical finishing?”

And it would seem that this trend isn’t just confined to England. It also happened in Spain on Saturday night for Gary Neville’s first game in charge of Valencia against the mighty Barcelona. Valencia could hardly get a full team out with 9 of the first choice regulars missing. However, they’re a well-organised bunch and a combination of this and a host of missed chances by the Champions left the score at 0-1 5 minutes from time when 19 year old reserve Santiago Mina scored for it to finish 1-1.

Talking of Valencia, we were all left scratching our heads when Gary Neville took the job. They’re a hard lot to please down there and they don’t take to foreign coaches too well either. Gary can’t even use his defensive knowledge to tighten up at the back and improve that way because with just 11 goals conceded all season they have the 2nd best defence in La Liga. There may be trouble ahead........

In our league, Paul Cellini is the man of the moment. Just 4 short weeks ago he was in 60th place – now he’s at the top. Paul has set a great example to us all of what is possible. Bauhaus’s Ben Wilcox has also raced into the top 10 and has ended up in 4th place displacing his sister Natasha from our sponsors FuturaRec2Rec. We’d like to be a fly on the wall at dinner tonight in that household! Just beating Ben for points this week is Nathan Whitcombe, another newbie. Well done to both lads.

The Top 10 are as follows:

Paul Cellini

Alan Furley

Luis Cruz, ConSol Partners

Ben Wilcox, Bauhaus

Bartley Hilliam

Phil Dancey

Nathan Whitcombe

Gary Smith

Mike B

Dave Cattell

Manager of the Week

Nathan Whitcombe

In 7th place with a superb score of 86 points without a chip being played we find Nathan Whitcombe. Nathan has benefited tremendously from his 42 point captain, Mahrez, 14 points Wijnaldum, 8 points Lukaku, 7 points Smalling, 5 points Vardy ..…and very little else. But hey, who needs a full team anyway?

What a fantastic week Nathan.

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With no less than 79 points in 78th place, we find Paul Scott. Paul’s a Liverpool fan without a single Liverpool player in his team. Strange now Kloppo has given them new hope. Paul played his AOA chip and we have to say it didn’t do him much good. He’d sacrificed 7 points Smalling in favour of 2 points mane or 2 points De Bruyne. He’d captained Ighalo at the expense of his VC Mahrez. Oh no! Paul would be up in 54th place if he’d made those choices but that applies to all of us eh?

Keep up the good work Paul.