Leicester City beat Crystal Palace 1-0 away from home on Saturday — their fourth 1-0 win in their last five outings — and they now need just 17 points to win the Premier League.
[ RECAP – Foxes beat Palace ]
Speaking to the media after the game, manager Claudio Ranieri was all smiles once again as his side are five games unbeaten since losing to title rivals Arsenal before the last international break in February.
The veteran Italian manager believes the pressure is now all on title rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City ahead of their games on Sunday.
“It was tough, but we played so well and deserved to win. We created three or four great chances to score,” Ranieri said. “We can play on the counter, in open space, against teams that close well. But we must continue so our fans can dream. It was an important match to win because now the others must do something.”
Leicester’s fans stayed for long after the game to sing “We’re going to win the league!” and Ranieri wants his team to stay focused in their quest to achieve UEFA Champions League qualification.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
He thinks that is close but isn’t talking about winning the title, saying “we will only know at the end of the season.”
Well, Claudio, your boys are blowing the opposition out of the water and the pressure isn’t getting to them at all.
Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kante celebrated their first-ever national team call-ups to England and France respectively by controlling the midfield, and Robert Huth and Wes Morgan stood firm despite heavy pressure from Palace late on. This incredible mix of veterans and players nobody else would take a chance on have become one of the most balanced teams the PL has ever seen.
The occasion isn’t getting to Leicester at all, and with the same starting lineup week after week with major injuries avoided, achieving the unthinkable and winning the league is now attainable.
“I think we are close to achieving the Champions League. Our fans are singing, but we must stay concentrated,” Ranieri said. “The Champions League is close. It would be an amazing achievement.”
With seven games to go, the Foxes are flying and here are their remaining fixtures which stand between them and soccer immortality:
Apr. 3 vs. Southampton
Apr. 10 at Sunderland
Apr. 17 vs. West Ham
Apr. 24 vs. Swansea City
May 1 at Man United
May 7 at Everton
May 15 at Chelsea
The next four games are very winnable but after two weeks away with their national teams, the big thing for Leicester’s players is now staying focused and fit for this career-defining run-in.
No Leicester fan, even the ones who bet on them at the start of the season with odds of over 5000-1, would’ve predicted the Foxes winning the Premier League at the start of the season.
However, the way their fans celebrated the win at Palace on Saturday, the belief levels are rising and it would now take a monumental collapse for the Foxes to let the title slip out of their grasp.