Tuesday Night Takeaways: Leicester continue march toward title, while Arsenal flounder against Southampton

Manchester United got a rare first half goal at Old Trafford as they beat Stoke City

1) Leicester City should start packing their bags for Europe

Jamie Vardy's brace secured Leicester a priceless 2-0 victory over Liverpool at the King Power Stadium this evening and silenced the naysayers. If there were any left.

Claudio Ranieri is guiding Leicester City to glory and perhaps one the greatest stories of the Premier League era.

While the title race is still in full flow, Arsenal dropping points tonight and Manchester City's decidedly difficult set of fixtures in all competitions this month make for positive reading for the Tinkerman.

Make no mistake, Jamie Vardy wasn't fortunate to score tonight. He was back to his scintillating best. Riyad Mahrez also put on an exhibition before being substituted and only for a superb Simon Mignolet save, he would have had his won world-class goal.

Without thinking too far ahead, Ranieri should begin making provisions for European football next season and start looking at bringing in the types of players who can keep them among the top teams in the league.

Performances like tonight reiterate how far they've come in the space of 40 Premier League games and their target of survival seems trivial at this stage.

 

Vardy was back to his brilliant best this evening scoring twice and has committed his future to the club only this afternoon. Image: Rui Vieira / AP/Press Association Images

2) Arsenal fail to maintain pressure as they draw blank against Saints

Arsene Wenger will be ruing his side's missed opportunities tonight as the Gunners played out a scoreless draw against Southampton.

On the face of it, this was a result to be expected: Southampton hadn't conceded in three league games and Arsenal hadn't won in the league since the second day of the new year.

The result doesn't eliminate them from the race, nor does it heap huge amounts of pressure on the team, but the psychological impact on their players may take its toll.

Arsenal have only one league game (Bournemouth, 7/2/16) before they come up against Leicester City in what could prove to be a title deciding fixture.

They slip back to fourth position, five points off Leicester and behind bitter rivals Spurs on goal difference.

It's not the end of the world, but things could take a familiar turn for Arsene Wenger's side at a crucial point in the season. 

Olivier Giroud missed two excellent opportunities for Arsenal tonight. Image: Frank Augstein / AP/Press Association Images.

3) Relief for Louis van Gaal as United score first half goal at Old Trafford

It's been a turbulent season for Manchester United. Fans are disgruntled at the style of play, there are questions surrounding the manager and one of the more worrying aspects of the season was the number of goals United had been scoring.

Tonight, Jess Lingard opened the scoring to give United a first first-half goal in 12 outings at Old Trafford. This, coupled with their 3-1 FA Cup fourth round victory over Derby County, have been signs of serious improvement within the squad.

Whether or not the news of Pep Guardiola's arrival at Manchester City had anything to do with the performance, something that may have pulled the squad and the manager together, this was more like the Manchester United of old. 

Van Gaal faces Chelsea and Arsenal in two of their next three games, this momentum will be key if they are to keep up the pressure on the top four.

Jesse Lingard bags a rare first half goal for Manchester United. Image: Martin Rickett / PA Wire/Press Association Images

4) Crystal Palace need to arrest their poor form

Five league defeats on the bounce makes for painful reading for Alan Pardew.

Tonight, they gave away a one-goal advantage to suffer a 2-1 home defeat to Bournemouth and they'll travel to a resurgent Swansea before they go up against Watford at Selhurst Park in 11 days time.

Palace are ten points clear of the dropzone and are not in immediate danger, but Pardew will need to do something fast if they are to aim for a top half finish.

Their problems up front are well documented, two goals in seven games screams crisis at Selhurst Park.

The fact that they got back to scoring is probably the only positive they can take from tonight, in an otherwise disappointing result.

Scott Dann opened the scoring for Crystal Palace this evening. Image: Paul Harding / PA Wire/Press Association Images

5) Tottenham can push for more than Champions League football

Mauricio Pochettino today moved up the list of managers ready to replace Louis van Gaal, but his focus remains solely on delivering Champions League football to Tottenham.

Their comprehensive 3-0 win away to Norwich, where two of their shining lights Dele Alli and Harry Kane got the goals, is another example of the improvement taking place at White Hart Lane.

Spurs look more creative on the ball, using their midfielders to get goals and have looked comfortable on the road.

They moved up to third tonight, ahead of Arsenal on goal difference.

Pochettino does have some challenging fixtures coming up, not least from Manchester City in just under two weeks time, but the systems put in place are bearing fruit for the Londoners.

Dele Alli opened the scoring tonight and has been one of Tottenham's standout players so far this season. Image:  Tim Ireland / AP/Press Association Images.