Sunderland vs Leicester City reaction: Foxes secure perhaps the greatest escape in Premier League history

Sunderland 0 Leicester 0: Foxes secure Premier League survival

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The Independent Football

It is perhaps the greatest of all Premier League escapes.

After spending 140 days at the foot of the table, going 13 matches without a victory before Christmas and having just 19 points at the beginning of April, Leicester City will be a top flight side next season.

Unlike their fellow graduates from the school of escapology, however, they didn’t stagger over the line in a heap of anxiety and relief. Such was the force of their revival, the swashbuckling Foxes achieved the impossible with one game to spare.

They could now reach the dizzy heights of 13th before the season is through.

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The Leicester squad embrace at the full-time whistle

In 2005, Bryan Robson’s West Bromwich Albion did the unthinkable too. With the council of assistant manager Nigel Pearson, Baggies boss Robson led his down-and-outers from bottom to 17th in just ten weeks.

Other members of this peculiar club include Oldham Athletic, Bradford City, Portsmouth, Fulham, Wigan Athletic and yesterday's opponents Sunderland.

With just 19 points to show for their efforts between August and April, Leicester weren’t too far ahead of Derby County’s worst-ever Premier League points tally of 11.

But something remarkable happened. In the days leading up to the visit of West Ham United last month, the Foxes’ commander-in-chief Esteban Cambiasso issued a rallying cry.

"It is the same pressure fighting for the Champions League, as fighting for survival," said Cambiasso. "My mentality is match, match, match. It is impossible to say one match is more important than the other."

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Esteban Cambiasso has been key for Nigel Pearson and Leicester

Later comparing the satisfaction he would feel if Leicester were able to stay up to winning major honours with Real Madrid and Inter Milan, the Argentine midfielder was setting down a stall.

The East Midlands club have lost just one match since. And that was against champions Chelsea.

The victory over Sam Allardyce’s Hammers wasn’t taken too seriously, for the previously shining light of their season had long been dwindling.

Jamie Vardy’s last minute winner at the Hawthorns, however, on the day West Brom honoured the life of legendary former striker Jeff Astle, made a few more take notice.

Strikes from David Nugent and Robert Huth overturned a deficit and showcased the steel heart to Pearson’s engine room. It was just the beginning.

The wins kept on rolling as Swansea, fighting for their highest-ever top flight points tally, fell by the wayside before Burnley were disposed also at Turf Moor. Vardy was even linked with an England call-up.

Marc Albrighton then gave Jose Mourinho a mighty fright when he put Leicester ahead over Chelsea at the King Power Stadium. The Portuguese was perhaps the only boss capable of stopping the Leicester train and did so with a second half masterclass.

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Nigel Pearson celebrates with the Leicester supporters

Meanwhile, Newcastle and John Carver never stood a chance. Knocking three past the beleaguered Magpies, the Foxes march continued before last weekend’s 2-0 win over Southampton.

In truth, it has been a truly remarkable turnaround. Unforeseen by anyone in the game, Pearson was typically humble following this Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Sunderland.

The Black Cats huffed and puffed but needed to call the cavalry if they were ever going to be successful in blowing the house down. They must now sweat on the final day but a point was enough for Leicester to finish the job early.

They should start providing a thesaurus in the press box at the King Power. Even then there is unlikely to be any superlatives left to describe the greatest of great escapes.

“Success is relative and this is fine achievement for us,” said Pearson.

“We have a player of the year do on Monday night and I imagine that will be a decent celebration.

“To be safe with a game to spare when you consider where we were a couple of months ago, is a fine achievement.”

As the Leicester players rushed through the mixed zone at the Stadium of Light and onto the team coach, surely destined for an East Midlands night club, it’s unlikely they will remember much of the evening which followed.

The last two months, meanwhile, will live long in the memory.

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