Leicester City are the neutrals’ favourite in the Premier League title race, according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
The Frenchman believes Claudio Ranieri’s side have won the hearts and imagination of a football-loving public with their swashbuckling style of play that has left the Premier League’s biggest clubs in their wake.
The table-toppers dismissed the challenge of second-placed Manchester City in remarkable fashion, as they earned a 3-1 win at the Etihad on Saturday to move six points clear of City and eight points clear of fourth-placed Arsenal, who are chasing a first Premier League win since January 2 when they face AFC Bournemouth on Sunday.
Leicester are five points ahead of Tottenham, who leapfrogged City into second after a 1-0 win over Watford, and Wenger says the unlikely title chasers are worthy of all the praise they receive as their fairy-tale season continues.
Wenger even used Leicester’s success to take a shot at the media for criticising his lack of big-name signings.
“The advantage they have until the end of the season, apart from our fans and the City fans and Tottenham fans, the rest of the country is behind Leicester,” he said.
“You reproach me about not buying big names but you will support the team who have no big names.
“I think it’s great to see Leicester doing so well.
“You always ask me, ‘Why do you not buy a big-name?’ but Leicester is a fantastic example that football is not only about just spending the money.
“It’s the quality of work and it’s important to think that the quality of the work can get you there. Leicester are a very good example for our league.”
Wenger was also full of praise for his opposite number at Bournemouth, Eddie Howe.
“He has done extremely well. When I see his team play, they play well and you see he has done a great job there,” he said.
“You cannot rule [Bournemouth’s top-four prospects under Howe] out. He is from this country, he is young. He already has good experience.
“I am sure that there are more Eddie Howes in the country. I am absolutely convinced about that.
“Where I agree with you is that it’s difficult for them to get in now. With so much at stake, that somebody to be brave in life and say look, I give it to you. It’s not easy to find.”