Tuesday 10 December 2019

Foxes go five points clear

Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring Leicester's second goal in their 3-1 victory over Manchester City Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire
Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring Leicester's second goal in their 3-1 victory over Manchester City Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire

Dion Fanning

This means nothing," Claudio Ranieri said when he was asked how important Leicester City's victory at Manchester City yesterday was in the title race, but this weekend nobody will believe him.

Leicester are six points clear of Manchester City after their 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium but it was the manner in which it was achieved which will have boosted their supporters' confidence.

"We know it's a crazy league. We have to enjoy it but there are some big teams to play so it is important for us to enjoy it without pressure. It is important to continue in this way because it's a strange league," said Ranieri.

Leicester ended the day five points clear at the top of this strange league as Tottenham moved into second place, but they had demonstrated during their 3-1 victory that they have the qualities of champions.

Defender Robert Huth scored twice, while Riyad Mahrez drained the confidence out of Manuel Pellegrini's side with his side's important second goal.

"They are playing very well, but we defended very bad and conceded two goals from set pieces," Manuel Pellegrini said afterwards. "It was a chance to recover a lead at the top of the table, but we couldn't do it. We have 39 points left to play for. There are too many things that can happen but of course this was a defeat we didn't expect."

Pellegrini refused to talk about the summer arrival of Pep Guardiola or if last week's announcement affected his side. "I think that I talk too much about last week and I don't think it's fair to try and have excuses."

He wouldn't comment on how his players' performance would affect their futures under Guardiola but acknowledged that his side need to improve.

"Leicester played better than our team. I think if they continue playing as they are doing, they are favourites, but it is hard with 13 games to make a prediction about the future," he said.

Ranieri felt the same way, calling on the supporters to dream, but trying to take the mounting pressure off his side.

"I hope to bring to me all the pressure and let them play free," he said.

There was more good news for Leicester fans after the game when the Foxes announced that star striker Jamie Vardy has signed a new contract - understood to be worth £80,000 a week - that will keep him at the club until June 2019.

"I'm absolutely delighted to be fighting to achieve something special," Vardy, 29, said. "I've never known a spirit like it. I want to be part of it for a long time."

After yesterday's victory, Leicester became favourites for the title. "I don't believe the bookmakers. At the start of the season, they say 'Ranieri is first for the sack'. I hope this time they are right."

The sporting world hopes they are right this time.

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