Sport Soccer

Monday 23 April 2018

Claudio Ranieri maintains Foxes focus

Claudio Ranieri has guided Leicester to the top of the Barclays Premier League
Claudio Ranieri has guided Leicester to the top of the Barclays Premier League

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri insists he will remain calm despite the leaders being on the brink of reaching the Champions League.

The Foxes could seal a top four place if West Ham drop points against Arsenal on Saturday and they then win at Sunderland and Manchester United lose at Tottenham on Sunday.

Ranieri has consistently refused to talk about winning the Barclays Premier League title and only entertained reaching the Champions League last month - despite currently being seven points clear at the top.

Victory on Sunday will open up a 10-point gap to second placed Spurs if they lose to United but Ranieri insisted he is not thinking about the Champions League yet.

He said: "What we do is important, before thinking about everything, then we can check the table. I'll repeat to my players it's important what we do.

"I can wait, the others can win all their matches. I must be focused. I expect Tottenham, Arsenal, everyone to win all their games and then I want to fight to achieve the Champions League. It will be a fantastic achievement.

"At this moment I don't think behind me, I look forward and to the next match. Sunderland is a very difficult match.

"I am very happy we saved the team (from relegation), that is important. Our fans continue to dream, a lot of children come to our training ground, it is fantastic.

"Everyone is looking at what happens in the last six matches, me too, I am very curious, but we have to wait. There are a lot of people pushing behind us and that's important but it's important to keep our feet on the ground."

Ranieri won the manager of the month prize for March after three wins and a draw but is taking nothing for granted at the Stadium of Light, with Sunderland four points from safety.

He added: "Sunderland are desperate and it will be a big battle. Sometimes there is pretty football but I am waiting for a battle."

Jeff Schlupp is available after a knee injury while Ranieri has no fresh injury worries.

Leicester have six games left and will win the title with another four wins.

And, with the Foxes in the final straight on Grand National weekend, Ranieri has urged his side not to fall at the final hurdle.

He said: "We are in front, but we have to run a lot now. We have finished the [last] corner and now we are looking at the line. We have to hold on tight and stick our elbows out to make sure nobody gets past.

"I think now we have opened the heart to everybody, the little normal teams and the normal players. How many of our players were playing in non-league or small leagues a few years ago? And that is good for football. It's good publicity for everybody.

"We are building something good. The foundation is done. That is fantastic. Now we have to continue this dream. We are doing something special, but we have to work. Only the right work can give us the right points."

Press Association

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