Claudio Ranieri urges Foxes to enjoy themselves as Man City test looms
Published 28/12/2015 | 02:30
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has told his players they have to enjoy their football and not be restricted by their place at the top of the Premier League.
The Foxes retained their spot at the summit despite a 1-0 defeat at Liverpool after Arsenal blew their chance to overtake them following a 4-0 defeat at Southampton.
Pressure will only increase as the second half of the season begins to tick down and Ranieri is keen to avoid a repeat of what he saw at Anfield where his side were over-anxious.
"You know my idea about this (the title) - we are dreaming," said the Italian, whose side face Manchester City at home tomorrow night. We are in good condition and in a good position with 38 points.
"Now we can continue but I want to see my players enjoy it. I don't know why we were so nervous at the beginning. Why? Play football, don't worry. If you lose, lose. That's it. We have the time."
Leicester's two leading scorers Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were both substituted at Anfield even though they were still chasing an equaliser. Ranieri admitted he was mindful not to burn them out with City next up and many more challenges to come.
"Both were tired and Vardy played with a fever and I didn't want to give him more minutes to play, I wanted to preserve him," he added "Sunday we restart training and I will speak with them and then we have another day and then I will decide. I think Vardy will be okay. Danny Drinkwater starts with us tomorrow, he has trained alone all week, and he could be fit."
Defender Danny Simpson admitted a first defeat in three months came as a blow but believes the players will bounce back.
"It has been a tough few weeks but we know we will pick ourselves up," he said. "We are devastated and it is a setback but we will bounce back; we have great spirit and great characters. We are an honest bunch and we will look at it and react in the right way and there is no better way than to react against Man City."
After four matches without a win - in which they conceded seven goals - Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren said three points and a clean sheet were well overdue.
"It was a massive win for us because we needed the points as we did not have the best game last time out against Watford (a 3-0 defeat)," he said. "I think we showed our great team spirit, we were attacking all together like a team and we were also a team defensively.
"We need to take as many points as possible for the next couple of games and we need to continue to work. We had a great team spirit before the last three or four games when we lost but I think the fans saw we have been together all the time. Sometimes you don't have to play well, you just have to fight to win the games."