Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri believes the success of his team’s unlikely title challenge will hinge on their next five games.
Ranieri and Co. will take on Norwich City, West Brom, Watford, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace in the Premier League, with Leicester topping the Premier League by two points ahead of Tottenham and Arsenal.
Leicester have come through a tough run of fixtures in which they picked up wins against Liverpool and Manchester City before suffering a late 2-1 loss to Arsenal.
But despite the heartbreaking circumstances of the loss to Arsenal – Danny Welbeck came off the bench to score in the fifth minute of four added minutes of stoppage time – Ranieri said the result would not define the title race.
“The next five matches are the turn – then the run in and the goal is there. I think this is the key moment for us,” the Italian said.
“I’m very focused on these five matches – after we can say where we are: ‘We are here, OK, keep going’, or ‘No, what happened’. Now we have to think about these five matches.
“I look always forward, to the top, I never see behind. Every time we fight for the maximum, every match [we want] three points.
“The next five are the most important, the key, today until the new break. After March 19th we don’t play more, there is another break. For this reason, I said the five matches are a key point.”
Ranieri does not believe the fact that Leicester only have the Premier League to worry about – with title rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and City all still competing in one or more of the FA Cup, Champions League or Europa League, gives his team the upper hand.
“I don’t know if it gives me an advantage – but, believe me, I am their fans when they play in Europe: ‘Come on, man!’ The more they win, the more they play, it’s much better for us,” he said.
“It could be an advantage, at the end we’ll see if it was a good opportunity for us or no.
“But the next two games will be very tough. I believe my players are intelligent and they will start with the same idea as the other matches.
“Norwich will be a big battle and harder than Arsenal. My players are refreshed and ready for the last fight. I want to see them concentrated and angry because of the way we lost in the last minute at Arsenal.”
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