Leicester upbeat in the final stretch

LONDON • Winger Marc Albrighton has revealed just how high the confidence is in the Leicester City dressing room, amid their rivals' hopes that they will slip up in the Premier League title race.

The Foxes lead second-placed Tottenham by seven points and go into tomorrow's home clash against West Ham, and need three more wins from their last five games this season to win their first-ever top-flight title.

Mauricio Pochettino has already said that his Spurs side are ready if Leicester make any mistakes in the final weeks. However, Albrighton feels that the Foxes are going into every game feeling virtually unbeatable.

Leicester have only lost thrice in the league this season and have kept 11 clean sheets in the last 15 matches.

"The position we are in and keeping the clean sheets, that is one of the main factors," Albrighton said.

'WHY BE NERVOUS?'

We have to fight with a smile as our job is done. We are safe. That's a miracle.

CLAUDIO RANIERI, Leicester manager, indicating his team are relaxed.

"If you are not conceding goals then you are not going to lose games. We have the quality up front to go and score," the Englishman warned West Ham, whose last league clean sheet away from home came on Dec 20 against Swansea City.

"It's just nice to be winning games. It's massive that we are keeping a winning habit going."

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri also indicated that his men - favourites for relegation before the start of the season - are not feeling any nerves.

"Why be nervous? We are focused," he said yesterday.

"We have to fight with a smile as our job is done. We are safe. That's a miracle."

Yet the Italian does not need to look very far to notice the hype and excitement surrounding the Thai-owned club.

His press conference yesterday was packed with at least 70 journalists, including correspondents from Italy, Japan, Australia, Spain, Denmark, and Thailand, according to The Guardian's Daniel Taylor.

Even sixth-placed West Ham, who could yet finish in the Champions League positions, have to cede the spotlight to Leicester.

"People recognise we are having a good season, playing good football and praising us," said Hammers boss Slaven Bilic, who will be without Diafra Sakho for a third match because of injury.

"But what Leicester have done puts our successful season a little bit in the shadows. It's like a fairy tale and they deserve all the credit they are getting. It is unbelievable."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2016, with the headline 'Leicester upbeat in the final stretch'. Print Edition | Subscribe