Ranieri denies winning title will be 'revenge'

LONDON • Claudio Ranieri insists that leading Leicester City to the most remarkable title triumph in Premier League history would not serve as revenge on the critics who have questioned the Italian throughout his career.

No team in the Premier League era have failed to win the title from Leicester's position, with Ranieri's side sitting five points clear of second-placed Tottenham ahead of today's trip to Crystal Palace.

With just eight games left, Ranieri is within reach of proving the doubters wrong, the highest-profile of whom was Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who sacked the Italian as manager in 2004.

But Ranieri has dismissed suggestions that a desire for revenge against Chelsea, the side he led to second place behind Arsenal's title-winning "Invincibles" in 2004, is fuelling his hunger for success.

"I want to win because I want to win, but not for revenge," he said.

"I don't have revenge in my life.

"Now we are very close to making the Europa League and it's important in the next two or three matches to continue in this way to be also in the Champions League.

"That would be a great achievement but I want to go back to my focus on Crystal Palace."

Ranieri could be without midfielder Andy King due to illness at Selhurst Park but has no injury concerns.

Palace are seeking their first league win since Dec 19, a run that stands in stark contrast to their form in the FA Cup that has set up a semi-final meeting with Watford.

After a stunning first half of the season that prompted talk of securing a place in Europe next season, Palace's slide means their concern is now with maintaining the eight-point gap that separates them from the bottom three.

"I want us to be consistent, to be an established Premier League team. For half of last term and half of this term we've done a brilliant job. But we've got 10 games to go and we can make a big impact," Palace manager Alan Pardew said.

However, five straight home defeats provide a shaky platform to build on as Leicester bring the Premier League's best away record to Selhurst Park.

"The route is clear for them, they are favourites and they have been brilliant," said Pardew.

"In all the games they've won recently it's been really tight and I expect it to be the same against us. We'll be hoping for a result."

Pardew is without strikers Connor Wickham (hip) and Marouane Chamakh (groin), while Mile Jedinak is in doubt with a back problem.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2016, with the headline 'Ranieri denies winning title will be 'revenge''. Print Edition | Subscribe