Title race still wide open – Ranieri

15 Mar

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Newcastle will be safe – Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri has dismissed the suggestion that the Premier League title race is down to a straight fight between Leicester and Tottenham.

Ranieri’s Foxes side are five points clear with eight games left after beating Newcastle 1-0 on Monday.

Tottenham lie in second with Arsenal 11 points behind the Foxes, and fourth-placed Manchester City 12 off the pace.

Asked if only Leicester or Spurs could be champions, Ranieri said: “No, the race is open.”

He added: “We are fighting for Europe and then maybe with four or five matches left, maybe we are fighting for the Champions League.”

It has been rare in the Premier League era for a team to have such a big lead in the closing stages of the Premier League season and not win the title.

In 1997-98, Manchester United were six points clear of eventual champions Arsenal after they had played 33 games, but the Gunners had three games in hand.

Four years ago, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team lost an eight-point cushion to Manchester City in the final six games of the season.

And two seasons ago, Liverpool were five points clear of second-placed Chelsea with three games to play – but Manchester City, six points adrift of Brendan Rodgers’ side and with a game in hand, came through from third to win the title.

“There are so many people who are dreaming but we have to continue to work hard,” said Ranieri, who continually refused to discuss his side’s chances of lifting the title for the first time.

“I want to fight every match. Now our concentration is about Crystal Palace, another difficult match. We will go to battle there.”

The Foxes need a maximum of 20 points from their remaining fixtures to the win the title and can reach a maximum haul of 87 points.

‘The greatest achievement we’ve ever seen’

Shinji Okazaki<!–

Shinji Okazaki scored with Leicester’s only shot on target against Newcastle

Former Leicester midfielder and BBC Sport pundit Robbie Savage was more forthright about the Foxes’ chances, while writing off Arsenal and Manchester City from mounting a challenge.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: “Leicester are 11 clear of Arsenal, 12 points ahead of Manchester City with all the money those teams have spent – it’s unbelievable. It’s ridiculous to think of Leicester being so far ahead. It’s a two-horse race, no doubt about it. City are out of it, Arsenal are out of it.

“If it was Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City five points clear, everyone would say they would win the league and wouldn’t fall away. But yet again Leicester have answered the questions.

“I never thought I’d see a Leicester team better than the one we had under Martin O’Neill but this team is easily better. If they win it I believe this is the greatest football achievement we’ve ever seen.

“You can’t rule out Spurs but City and Arsenal have no chance of winning it now. You can’t see them winning four or five in a row.

“I think Leicester will win the league.”

‘We’re going to win the league’

Michael, a Leicester fan on the 5 live Social: “We’re going to win the league. I’m a teacher at a prep school near Leicester and now the kids are arguing about who wants to play for Leicester.

“They want to be Leicester – they don’t want to be Arsenal or Manchester United. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s absolutely fantastic.”

Alex Storey on Twitter: It’s actually just hit me… Leicester will play the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich next season.

Champion Opeyemi: Irrespective of whether Barca win another treble, Leicester and Ranieri has to be the world club and manager of the year.

Gavin Harris: Did Roy of the Rovers wear Leicester City pyjamas? He must have, right? Biggest upset ever in British football if they win


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