Claudio Ranieri: We want our fans to dream but Manchester City is tough match
Published 05/02/2016 | 13:17
Victory against Manchester City would confirm Leicester as serious Barclays Premier League title contenders, but Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri will not be making such bold statements whatever the result on Saturday.
Leicester are the story of the campaign. Under Ranieri they have transformed from relegation candidates into league leaders and, barring a dramatic slump in results, certainties for European football next season - probably in the Champions League.
A win this weekend over their nearest rivals would take the Foxes six points clear of City, but Ranieri remains grounded, with another difficult trip to Arsenal on the agenda after the Etihad.
"Even if we win, and we try to win, then we can lose with Arsenal," Ranieri said.
"It is difficult to say this (that Leicester can win the title). We want our fans to dream but we know it's a tough match and from now there will only be tough matches.
"We must continue in this way. I tell my players we make 39 points in the first half (of the season) so I want 40 points from the second half - one more.
"We have to take two points every match between now and the end of the season to arrive at 79 points. I don't know if it is good enough to win (the league), but I want to improve.
"If we don't improve, we still make a fantastic season but we slow down.
"We believe in the next match. We believe we are working well. We believe sooner or later we lose but nothing must happen."
Ranieri has been asked on countless occasions over the past few months whether he believes Leicester can win the Premier League and he has played it down every time.
Asked if he had told his players that he believes they can lift the title, the affable Italian said: " You want to know if I told something to my players?! Ha ha ha. This is a secret.
"It's a battle now - Manchester City and then Arsenal. We have to make sure we just keep working and running and running.
"I hope we don't feel the pressure because it's the first time we have been here."
Ranieri will assess the fitness of recent signing Daniel Amartey before deciding if he will be involved for the first time in the top-of-the-table clash.
Amartey joined Leicester on January 23 but has yet to make the squad, having last played a competitive game for former club FC Copenhagen at the start of December because of the winter break.
The Ghana international's versatility - he was signed mainly as a central midfielder but can also play at centre-back and right-back - is the reason Ranieri has allowed Ritchie De Laet and Yohan Benalouane to go out on loan.
Only Matty James (knee) and Jeff Schlupp (hamstring) will definitely be absent for the trip to Manchester.