Leicester City legend Gerry Taggart believes the Premier League title is up for grabs – like never before.
And the ex-Northern Ireland star insists the table-topping Foxes are better equipped to finish first this time round than when conquering the English elite five years ago.
Back then Claudio Ranieri’s team, who had narrowly escaped relegation 12 months earlier, defied 5000/1 odds to claim the ultimate prize in stunning fashion.
Now, with six wins from their opening eight games and a one point advantage over the chasing pack, early-pacesetters Leicester are threatening a repeat of that glorious feat.
Having already thrashed Manchester City at the Etihad and beaten Arsenal at the Emirates, Brendan Rodgers’ troops travel to Liverpool next Sunday bidding for a third Big Six scalp.
Little wonder Taggart senses something special is brewing at the King Power again – and that taking out Jurgen Klopp’s champions would rubber-stamp their title credentials.
The former Foxes defender, who made 142 appearances for the club from 1998-2004, declared: “Depth-wise this squad is a lot healthier than five years ago.
“In terms of all-round quality, right across the pitch, it’s stronger and better than the one that won the Premier League.
“And the title race this year is the most open I can remember – definitely way more open than in 2016.
“Nobody’s running away with it this time. Liverpool are up there, Tottenham are up here, Chelsea are hovering, and then you have Southampton and, of course, Leicester.
“The game at Liverpool can be a real marker for the Leicester team. They’ve already won at City and Arsenal. Can they now go to Anfield and beat the champions?
“If they do, then everybody must start taking them seriously as title contenders.”
Much of Taggart’s optimism stems from the way Rodgers has assembled a group containing an excellent mix of experience and youthful talent.
Throw in some stunning summer signings, such as £32million French teenager Wesley Fofana, and the Leicester boss appears to have found the formula for success.
Taggart feared the worst when injuries to first-team regulars Wilfred Ndidi and Caglar Soyuncu coincided with back-to-back league defeats to West Ham and Aston Villa.
But the ex-Man City and Stoke man has been hugely impressed at how Rodgers has shuffled formations and tactics to spark a six-match winning streak in all competitions.
“Brendan was caught by these injuries but he's changed the system – playing three central defenders – and it’s worked a treat, “ said Foxes match ambassador Taggart.
“He’s learning what suits his players best, while their versatility, which is being overlooked, is amazing.
“They’re playing a different way but the results are still the same and the football even better. It’s incredibly exciting.”
And, when all else fails, Leicester can still count on prolific striker Jamie Vardy, 33, to deliver the goods.
Taggart, 50, added: “If Jamie stays fit, he can play another two to three years. He improves with age because he hasn’t lost his pace and his football brain and knowledge is huge.
“With Jamie, Jonny Evans and Kasper Schmeichel, there's a backbone that has done it all before.”
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