Monday 23 October 2017

Leicester clear another hurdle to stretch lead to five points

Riyad Mahrez celebrates for Leicester last season
Riyad Mahrez celebrates for Leicester last season
Leicester's Marc Albrighton competes for the ball with Watford's Allan Nyom at Vicarage Road. Photo: John Sibley/Action Images
Watford's Nathan Ake (left) and Leicester City's Jamie Vardy battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Vicarage Road. Photo: Nick Potts/PA
Leicester's Christian Fuchs in action with Watford's Nordin Amrabat at Vicarage Road. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Dion Fanning

A routine win for Leicester City at Vicarage Road last night saw them move five points clear at the top of the Premier League. Leicester triumphed against Watford thanks to an outstanding moment from Riyad Mahrez, who scored his 15th Premier League goal of the season, 11 of which have come away from home.

There is, of course, nothing in Leicester's story that is routine, but they have emerged from a week when they could have surrendered their lead in a commanding position at the top of the table.

The game was not without its concerns for Leicester. In particular, they will be worried that Mahrez went off a few minutes from the end, after appearing to have injured his hamstring.

On the other hand, Leicester may be hopeful that one of their key players returns quickly, especially as their next game takes place on Monday week at home to Newcastle.

N'Golo Kante had been expected to miss last night's game having also pulled his hamstring last weekend but he returned as Claudio Ranieri's side started with their familiar first eleven.

They had started strongly but it wasn't until the second half, after a double substitution at half-time, that Mahrez gave Leicester the lead.

"This is a good moment for us, but every game from now on is going to be a battle," Ranieri said afterwards. "I don't know who is behind us, I want to run very fast. Every match is a final."

When they dropped points at home to West Brom last Tuesday, many reckoned their race was run, but what is clear now is that the pressure so far has had little impact on them, certainly compared to those who are chasing them.

Tottenham had begun the day hoping to go level but in the North London derby, Arsenal and Spurs demonstrated that every side challenging for the title will be defined by their failings.

Arsene Wenger was critical of his midfielder Francis Coquelin, who was sent off with his team leading 1-0 at White Hart Lane. Wenger had advised the player to be careful at half-time as he had already picked up a yellow card. Coquelin showed he had a strange understanding of caution when he dived in to tackle Harry Kane and was sent off.

Arsenal promptly conceded two goals but despite the opportunity of bringing an end to their rivals' title challenge, Spurs retreated and Alexis Sanchez equalised.

The draw in the early game provided Leicester with the opportunity to move into a commanding position yesterday evening. Thanks to Mahrez, they took it. All in a routine day's work.

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