Saints are the real threat, says Ranieri

LONDON • For the first time this Premier League season, Claudio Ranieri has admitted that his Leicester City side can win the title as their destiny lies with them.

The Foxes will remain top of the table when they host Southampton today, regardless of yesterday's result between Liverpool and second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

"I will say to the players, 'Don't mind about Tottenham, think about Southampton, that is the real threat,'" the Leicester manager said. "We know we are in the high position because we are always focused on our match without thinking what the other teams do. Then we have to continue in this way.

"For this reason I say everything is in our hands. It's not important what happens to the other teams."

Players like England's Jamie Vardy and Danny Drinkwater as well as France's N'Golo Kante furthered their reputations during the international break. Drinkwater and Kante made their international debuts to good reviews, prompting reports of interest from bigger clubs. Ranieri insisted that he would not stand in the way of Kante - or any other player - if he wanted to leave.

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"He's working very well but if some big team offers a lot of money, we think about it," Ranieri said of the Arsenal target, who scored in France's 4-2 win over Russia on Tuesday. "I don't want sad people here. I want happy. He's happy."

The Italian was certainly pleased with Leicester's resolve when they last met the Saints in October. They battled back from 0-2 down to draw thanks to a Vardy brace that included a 91st-minute equaliser.

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman is full of admiration for Ranieri's achievements, but, having seen his side come from 0-2 down to beat Liverpool 3-2 in their last outing, he knows that his players have plenty of grit too.

"All the credit to them (Leicester) that they are still fighting to win the title," he said. "Maybe this weekend will be the big decider. But they are also afraid about Southampton, because they know we can beat everybody."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LEICESTER V SOUTHAMPTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 03, 2016, with the headline 'Saints are the real threat, says Ranieri'. Print Edition | Subscribe