Every match a final for Foxes

Riyad Mahrez getting a lift from Danny Drinkwater as team-mates and fans celebrate his 56th-minute goal against Watford. The 1-0 win on Saturday pushed Leicester City up to 60 points and gave them a five-point lead over Tottenham Hotspur.
Riyad Mahrez getting a lift from Danny Drinkwater as team-mates and fans celebrate his 56th-minute goal against Watford. The 1-0 win on Saturday pushed Leicester City up to 60 points and gave them a five-point lead over Tottenham Hotspur.PHOTO: REUTERS

Ranieri knows Leicester going for 'something special' but reminds players not to get carried away

LONDON • Claudio Ranieri revealed that neither he nor his Leicester City team knew that the North London football derby on Saturday resulted in a draw. They were concentrating on their own match against Watford and are now in contention to do "something special" after the unlikely leaders moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.

Leicester won 1-0 at Watford thanks to a superb second-half strike from Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez and they are now just nine matches away from arguably the most remarkable title triumph in English football history.

To cap Ranieri's day, Leicester's two nearest rivals, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, had played out a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane in the early kick-off.

"No, I didn't know (the result), believe me," the Foxes manager told reporters after the game.

"I didn't know the result because I was focused on Watford. It was 2-2? Oh good, thank you."

  • The draw left Spurs on 55 points and Arsenal on 52. No team has won the English top flight with fewer than 54 points after 29 matches in the era where three points are awarded for a win.

The draw left Spurs on 55 points and Arsenal on 52.

No team has won the English top flight with fewer than 54 points after 29 matches in the era where three points are awarded for a win.

"At the start of the season I said we needed one more than 39 from last season," Ranieri said, referring to their survival target.

"Of course now we are running for something special. I don't know who is behind us, I said to my players 'every match is a final'. I don't know how many points we need."

While Ranieri is clearly growing more confident about Leicester's chances of winning the title, the Italian is keen to ensure his players do not get carried away.

"Five points is nothing but we want to continue to fight, match after match, step by step," he said.

"The key is to continue to fight. We can win, we can lose. I want to see my team concentrate, work hard all together, and then I am happy. The result is not important."

Having Mahrez in the team is, particularly in away fixtures. And the Algerian gave supporters an injury scare after scoring his 15th goal of the season - and 11th on the road - when he pulled up holding his hamstring. But he continued to play before being substituted in the 85th minute and Ranieri allayed fears by confirming Mahrez was simply suffering from cramp.

Leicester will have a nine-day break before returning to action against struggling Newcastle. The 19th-placed side fell to a 3-1 home defeat by Bournemouth on Saturday, leading to speculation over the future of Magpies manager Steve McClaren. According to The Telegraph, former Everton and Manchester United manager David Moyes could be the new boss at Tyneside in the coming days.

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores has suggested that Leicester's remaining opponents will have their work cut out.

"I would say they are the best team in terms of unity," he said. "From the first minute they are very concentrated. Everyone knows how Leicester are playing but it is difficult to stop them."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline 'Every match a final for Foxes'. Print Edition | Subscribe