Accepting his side will not be relegated this season, Claudio Ranieri has now set his Leicester City players a new target to strive for.
After miraculously escaping the drop last term, the Foxes were favourites for relegation this time round. These opinions were only reinforced when Nigel Pearson, the man who sparked their great escape last year, was sacked during the summer weeks and replaced by Ranieri, who had previously been sacked by Greece following a home defeat to the Faroe Islands.
However, the Italian and his players have been nothing short of sensational this season. With the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyadh Mahrez lighting up the Premier League on a regular basis, Leicester have long since rid themselves of the status as relegation candidates, and only goal difference is keeping them from topping the entire league after 21 fixtures of the campaign.
The latest victory came on Wednesday night when a Robert Huth goal gave them a 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur, who themselves are enjoying a good season as they hunt down a UEFA Champions League place. Ranieri has said all along the target for his players was 40 points, but in such an open league, has he now set his sights on an unlikely league title?
“I laugh,” he said when asked about his side being talked of as potential champions. “It’s January. What a pity! If it was May, maybe. We must continue to work hard, to keep our feet on the ground. It is a crazy, crazy league this year and we must continue. If we make 79 points, I am very, very happy. Will that win the title? I don’t know what we can do.”
Leicester resume their Premier League campaign on Saturday evening, when they make the short trip across the Midlands to face Aston Villa. In the reverse fixture earlier this campaign Ranieri’s men came from 2-0 down to record a famous 3-2 victory, and their opponents will be desperate for revenge particularly given their increasingly fraught position.
Meanwhile, BBC Radio Leicester understands the King Power Stadium club are in talks with FC Copenhagen over signing Daniel Amartey. The 21-year-old is able to play in defence or midfield, and is valued in the region of £6million. He could be the second signing of the January window for Ranieri, who has already taken Damarai Gray from Birmingham City this month.