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April 30, 2016updated 17 Oct 2016 11:54am

Leicester City have already won

By John Oates

Here’s a secret – the Premier League isn’t over yet but the winner has already been decided.

Almost all observers of English football in recent years have predicted the continued grip of the big top clubs.

Money was now so important, we were told, that it was impossible for the smaller clubs to compete effectively. The grip of the top clubs was unshakeable because there was so much money coming from TV, and from winning. This meant the winning clubs had ever bigger budgets to spend on the ever more expensive market for the best players, which in turn kept the smaller clubs out of the picture.

Until this season of course when Leicester City proved all the pundits wrong.

They have come from nowhere to win the hearts of football fans, and non-fans alike. At the time of writing they’re top of the league and seven points ahead. They’ve done this with a total transfer budget of £15m – which would get you about half a Manchester United player.

They’re the classic example of a disruptive force – they do almost everything differently.

In 2009 when Manchester United won the league the team line up was changed 140 times, but Leicester have made only 25 changes.

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Even their manager behaves differently – almost uniquely in the Premier League he’s very nice to journalists at club press conferences.

Six years ago the club signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Loughborough  University – famous for its sports science department. At the time it was hailed as the deepest such agreement in footballing history.

The collaboration has led to some pretty serious data collection work. This data is analysed and fed back to individual team members, and the coaches, to help them improve very specific areas of their performance – such as peak speed.

The team use wearable sensors to measure activity during games, as well as the impact of collisions.

Analysis of this data allows coaching staff a better insight into which players to rest and rotate.

This technology has given Leicester the lowest injury rate in the Premier League.

Leicester are hardly alone in exploiting technology to help out on the pitch. Two years ago Arsenal spent £2m not on a young player but on a data analytics company called StatDNA. It uses quantitive analysis and other forms of data crunching to advise football and basketball teams around the world.

Technology is only part of the team’s success of course. More important is that they’ve shown how quickly the right disruptive force can upset what looks like a very settled situation.

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