They may be three points clear with fewer distractions than their rivals, but Claudio Ranieri insists his Leicester City are not favourites to win the title.
A Jamie Vardy brace was enough to sink Liverpool at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday night, at the same time as Arsenal dropped points at home to Southampton. And although Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur won at Sunderland and Norwich City respectively, these results were enough to give the Foxes a three-point cushion at the head of the league table.
With just 14 matches of the campaign left to play, there is now an increasing belief that Leicester can go on and win the title, in what would be as incredible a story as any in many a year. But speaking ahead of the trip to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Ranieri continues to insist that his side are underdogs for the crown although he is happy for supporters to dream.
“The others are the favourites, not Leicester,” said the Italian. “We are still the underdogs. Who will win? The strongest team. Manchester City are built to win the title and fight for the Champions League. Our fans continue to dream, and that is what we want. The window is closed, everyone is improved. I am relaxed because we are having a very good season.”
One advantage Ranieri’s side have is, having been knocked out of the FA Cup, they only have the league to focus on. And although that includes the imminent double-header at City and, the following week, Arsenal, they at least have more preparation time. All their other rivals remain in the cup and also in Europe, and Manuel Pellegrini’s team also have the League Cup final.
Not only would it be a sensational story if Leicester win the title, but the fact they travel to Chelsea on the final day of the season will not be lost on Ranieri. He was famously sacked by Roman Abramovich to make way for Jose Mourinho in 2004, so to return to his former club – the reigning champions – to take their title from them would be the icing on the cake for the Italian.