Six points earned counts much more than lofty position in table: Ranieri

LONDON • Claudio Ranieri insisted that points are more important than position after his Leicester City moved to the top of the English Premier League table on Saturday after registering a 2-1 victory at West Ham United.

First-half goals by Shinji Okazaki and Riyad Mahrez put the Foxes in command at Upton Park.

Although Dimitri Payet halved the deficit, Leicester continued Ranieri's perfect start since taking over from Nigel Pearson.

Under the latter, Leicester won seven of their last nine games last season to complete a great escape.

Ranieri claims that staying in the top flight remains the goal.

"I look at the table and then I say, 'Okay, us six points'," he said.

"That is important for us, not to be top of the league. That is for others, not me.

"I don't think too much... now we have six points which is very, very important for us to maintain ourselves and play in that league.

"I want to maintain a low profile. We can't think we are top of the league."

In any case, Leicester's status could change following the results of other matches.

Ranieri's caution is not unfounded. The much-travelled Italian, who is back in English football after losing his job at Chelsea in 2004, has fewer big names to work with than he has been used to with his squads at the likes of Roma, Inter Milan and Valencia.

But after wins over Sunderland and the Hammers, who beat Arsenal a week ago, he knows he can at least count on his players' work ethic. "I love when the players give everything, that makes me very happy. Of course, when you get the result, it's much better but when you give everything, you can have everything," he said.

Leicester ended their poor run of results in London, where they had failed to win any of their last 20 Premier League matches.

"In the dressing room, I've said how pleased I am with all my players, not just those who start and who come off the bench, but all the players because they have worked hard all week," he added. "We may win, draw or lose but we will fight in every match."

The Foxes face Tottenham Hotspur at home on Saturday.

"All the players are playing like a team, they play with the ball on the ground and it is important to increase our stamina and fitness, and also our mentality," said Ranieri.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Six points earned counts much more than lofty position in table: Ranieri'. Print Edition | Subscribe