Tuesday 12 December 2017

Wily Fox Ranieri refuses to accept favourites tag

Leicester players celebrate. Photo: PA
Leicester players celebrate. Photo: PA

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri refused to accept his team were now title favourites after their sensational 3-1 win at Manchester City.

The surprise Premier League leaders opened up a six-point lead over Manuel Pellegrini's men - the side many expect to take the crown - with a near-perfect display at the Etihad Stadium.

One leading bookmaker immediately made Leicester - 5,000/1 outsiders at the start of the season - the new 7/4 favourites for the title with City drifting to 9/4.

But Ranieri, aware he was the one-time favourite in the 'sack race', said: "I don't believe the bookmakers. At the beginning of the season the bookmakers said, 'sack Ranieri'. I hope one time they are right!"

Leicester were superb from the outset, taking a third-minute lead with the first of Robert Huth's two goals and constantly troubling their illustrious hosts on the counter-attack.

With City failing to break down their stubborn defence, Riyad Mahrez doubled the lead with a fine strike early in the second half and Huth sent the visiting fans into dreamland on the hour.

Ranieri said: "It was a good performance. Difficult, because when you're playing against a team like City, players with fantastic quality, it's not easy but we concentrated very much.

"We wanted to try to win, without pressure, just enjoy the match, and try to do our best. I think the first goal was very good for our confidence and then we closed all the space."

Leicester also announced striker Jamie Vardy signed a new deal until 2019, with Ranieri singing his star striker's praises.

"Jamie is a fighter. He has had an unbelievable journey to get to this point in his career and continues to play every game as if it's his last. I love his spirit, which is a quality I want in my players above all else," he said.

"He has shown what a fantastic player he is and, more importantly, he is part of a fantastic group. I am very happy that he will stay with us for a long time."

Meanwhile, City boss Manuel Pellegrini added that David Silva left the field in the 77th minute after aggravating an ankle injury and he could now be doubtful for next week's key clash against Tottenham.

He said: "David was playing the last game with pain in his ankle. I think it will be difficult for him to recover soon."

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