Leipzig, Leicester, and More || Case of the Mondays
Monday morning is always hard — back to waking up early, back to work, back to not wearing pajamas all day. But if your team had a bad weekend, Monday morning can feel even worse.
Let’s check out the four teams that have the worst #CaseOfTheMondays after the weekend, shall we?
After taking points from the first 13 games of the season, people had all but declared Leipzig Bundesliga victors by December — or, at least, Bayern’s biggest (and most out-of-the-blue) challengers for it. Unfortunately, their recent slip-ups, including their second loss in a row last weekend, have given Bayern a seven-point lead at the top. And while the loss to Dortmund two weeks ago was maybe not so surprising, their most recent one — a shutout to 15th-place Hamburger SV, who have conceded the third-most goals in the Bundesliga and have a goal difference of -16 — certainly is. That one has to sting.But to give credit to HSV, their current position in the table belies their current form. After a poor fall that saw them going winless in 6 straight Bundesliga games from the end of August to the beginning of October — five of which were losses — their win against Leipzig was their third on the bounce in all competitions, and their sixth win out of nine games in all competitions since December. Yet you’d still expect a team 13 places higher in the table to beat them. However, let’s put sitting in second (and seven points ahead of third) into perspective. Although it might seem like a disappointment relative to the start of the season, it still has them very on track for a Champions League spot, and the fact that they were contenders at all, at any point, is incredibly impressive for a newly promoted side. And it was nice to have a Bundesliga title race for a little longer than usual this year.
Tottenham’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool on Saturday was simultaneously the most surprising yet most predictable result on the weekend. Sure, Tottenham hadn’t lost in 11, including a 2-0 dismantling of league-leading Chelsea; sure, Liverpool had only squeezed out one win yet in 2017, and that was against Plymouth Argyle; and sure, it would be Mignolet versus Harry Kane and Dele Ali for 90 minutes. But three other records came into play: that of Liverpool against the Top 6 (they’re currently on top of a top six “mini league”), that of Liverpool vs. Tottenham in general (Spurs haven’t won since 2012), and that of Tottenham at Anfield (recording only one win since 1993).However, this loss can’t just be chalked up to lopsided history. Liverpool are still a good team, despite not showing it for a few weeks, and that is why they were still in Top 4 contention after a floundering start to the new year. In fact, they are good enough to be the first team to score more than once versus Tottenham while shutting them out, and good enough to keep Hurricane Harry Kane from even getting a shot off. The two other times that happened this season? Tottenham’s victory over Chelsea in January...and Tottenham’s game versus Liverpool in the fall. Overall, though, this loss shouldn’t hurt Spurs fans for more than a few days. They’ve got some very winnable Europa and FA Cup games coming up to bounce back with, and after all, they’re still in second. One loss to another Top 4 side won’t change the direction of their entire season. And let’s face it, they weren’t going to win the league either way.
Tigres might be, uh, pulling a Leicester this half-season. After winning the 2016 Apertura, they’ve found themselves in 16th place after six weeks of Clausura play. They have a 1-1-4 record, and the weekend’s loss to Pachuca was their third in a row. Of course, it’s still early in the season, and there are eleven weeks left to turn things around. Plus, their last 3 losses have only been 1-0, which — although still losses — are not worrying, blowout losses. Maybe if they pretended that their opponent every week was Club America they’d start climbing up the table even faster. We’ll have to wait and see how they address their poor form when they come up against 8th place Veracruz on Friday.
At this point, Leicester losing isn’t a shock to anyone. The “fairytale” narrative of last year has long turned into “they’ll be relegated and win the Champions League in the same season” — but, just like the fairytale narrative, that’s slowly but surely turning into less of a joke and more of a very possible reality. The first half, anyway. Leicester currently sit one point above relegation, but recently they’ve been moving down faster than up. And getting beaten by a Swansea who, although they have been on a slow yet steady up-and-up for a little bit, had been almost certainly pegged to go down isn’t going to instill much confidence in the side. Could they be in for a managerial change, like what seemed to buoy Swansea’s season? Was N’golo Kante really the glue that held everything together last year? Whatever Leicester need to do to save their season, they need to figure it out fast.