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Monday 11 December 2017

Ranieri: Spurs are favourites to clinch title glory

Leicester boss deflects pressure on his side as they face Baggies test

Claudio Ranieri does not think Leicester are favourites for the title. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters
Claudio Ranieri does not think Leicester are favourites for the title. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Claudio Ranieri has named Tottenham as title favourites as the Leicester boss moves to ease the pressure off his side.

The Foxes are two points clear of Spurs in the English Premier League and host West Brom tonight with their rivals facing West Ham on Wednesday.

Tottenham's 2-1 comeback win over Swansea on Sunday kept the pressure on Leicester, who beat Norwich 1-0 on Saturday, but Ranieri believes Mauricio Pochettino's men are frontrunners.

He said: "Tottenham, in my opinion, are favourites then Arsenal, Manchester City.

"Tottenham are strong in every situation. When they defend and when they attack they know what they want. Everyone is speaking about Leicester but nobody is speaking about Tottenham.

"We are the surprise, that is fantastic, a good energy, but if we are realistic the real competitors are City, Arsenal and Tottenham.

"Our job is done, we wanted to be safe and now there is something new. You can achieve something new if you think match-by-match.

"Now we are focused on West Brom, we know we can win, lose or draw but it's not important what the other teams do."

Refused

Ranieri, without N'Golo Kante who is sidelined with a hamstring injury, has still refused to talk about Leicester's title chances despite the Foxes losing just three times this season.

And he insisted his squad are not speaking about their shock assault on the Premier League although feels they must learn to handle the extra pressure.

He added: "We don't think about it, we are thinking about what we are doing well and badly. We try to improve what was bad from the last match.

"I don't ban (any title talk). They must grow up with the pressure, that is good, but for us it's not important to win the title. It's important to improve our performance match after match."

Kante has been ruled out of the title-chasing Foxes' next two matches.

The 24-year-old came off in Saturday's 1-0 win over Norwich and is set to miss Leicester's game against West Brom and Watford.

The Foxes are two points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League and host the Baggies on Tuesday.

Andy King is expected to replace him but boss Claudio Ranieri feels Kante will not return before they head to Watford on Saturday.

He said: "We lose him for the next two matches. I hope only two. It's a little painful, he suffered during all of the season and now we want to give him some rest.

"Two matches and he can restart.

"All the season he had a problem with the other leg and now this time the new leg. Maybe he made a compensation and charged too much on the other leg.

"He has been extraordinary but I am very confident because we played King and he has started very well. I am very confident with him.

"Let me now play and then I will tell you what I will lose (from Kante). N'Golo recovers a lot of balls but not only this, he starts the counter-attack. I am very confident Drinky (Danny Drinkwater) and Kingy could be the same, they are doing very well."

Kante has featured in every league game for the Foxes this season, making 30 appearances and scoring once in November's 2-1 win over Watford.

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