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Leicester City's Survival Instincts Shine Through After Excellent Resurgence

08/05/2015 16:47 | Updated 05 May 2016

When a team, staring into the abyss of relegation, suddenly hauls themselves out of despair with a string of inspired performances, one can only sit back and applaud.

Nigel Pearson has received an enormous amount of media attention in recent weeks - perhaps correctly so - but his enduring instinct to survive and oversee a dramatic Leicester City resurgence should be equally commended.

Rewind back to December and the Foxes almost looked hopelessly adrift at the foot of the Premier League. Christmas was a fairly bleak period for the Midlands side as they plummeted after a win-less streak of 13 games. Looking at the history books can be misleading at times, but the writing appeared to be on the wall for Leicester at the turn of the year.

Bottom of the table, Leicester fans were faced with the ignominy of being relegated straight back down to the Championship knowing that only two teams in the league's history had recovered from being the basement club at Christmas. Perhaps a glimmer of hope could be taken from Sunderland's remarkable revival last season, but the outlook remained decidedly grim.

However, with the end-game fast approaching, Leicester have shown their best form at the right time and they have rallied to put themselves in a strong position regarding the relegation battle with three games left. Five wins from their last six games - with a solitary defeat coming against Chelsea - has lifted Pearson's men to within touching distance of Premier League survival. They are not safe yet, but the fact that they now sit eight points above bottom-placed Burnley is an apt indication of their progress.

It could be argued that, when they are on form, Leicester are as enterprising a side as you will find in the bottom half of the league table. After all, this is a side that mauled Manchester United in a stunning 5-3 victory and narrowly lost out to Spurs 4-3, in what was still one of the most thrilling games this season.

Pearson's bold tactics - particularly at the King Power Stadium - in deploying Leonardo Ulloa, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez in advanced positions has paid dividends. The Foxes play with a verve and enthusiasm that is difficult to conjure in a season of torment and relegation terrors.

Against Newcastle on Saturday, Leicester took advantage of their opponents' hellish situation and attacked them from the very outset. Before Pearson had even settled in his seat, Jeffrey Schlupp had won a corner. Then, with an excellent delivery from Marc Albrighton and a towering header from top-scorer Leonardo Ulloa, the King Power Stadium was rocking a mere 45 seconds into the game.

Did they sit back and protect their lead? Not a bit of it. Sensing that Newcastle were on the ropes even before the game had begun - bruised and tortured after a losing streak stretching to seven games - Leicester set about deepening the Magpies nightmare and taking another huge step on the road to survival.

A key feature of their renaissance has been tireless work-rate and nobody epitomises that more than Jamie Vardy. Not the most technically gifted footballer you will see in the top-flight, Vardy nevertheless is an indefatigable presence up front, a relentless zest in attack that shuts down opposition attacks with impressive regularity.

In that now famous victory over United, Vardy announced himself in emphatic fashion to the watching world by terrorising a hapless United defence with his aggression, pace and spirit (of course, Newcastle's Mike Williamson grew tired of trying to stop Vardy and resorted to poleaxing him in front of the TV cameras).

However, his fairytale in the Premier League failed to materialise and he didn't find the net again until six months later, in the 4-3 defeat to Spurs. But Vardy loves a challenge. He has played non-league football and knows all about muck and bullets. The passion in him continued to burn and he has proven himself once more with crucial goals against Burnley and West Brom in the last month.

Pearson, by his own admission may not win any popularity contests, but he should be applauded for his ability to stay strong when the world seems to be against him. This kind of resilience and unbreakable character is symptomatic of the Foxes' surge in form. As previously stated, they are not safe yet but if they do survive, it will be remembered as one of the finest escape acts in Premier League history. There are three games left, two of which are against relegation-threatened Sunderland and QPR. Don't be surprised if the Foxes hand out another mauling or two before the season is finished.

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