Mar 07, 2016

    For our fans, they dream; I work: Ranieri


    CLAUDIO Ranieri is still refusing to countenance Leicester City as Premier League title favourites despite seeing his side extend their lead at the top of the table to five points.

    Leicester's 1-0 victory at Watford ensured they cashed in on Tottenham and Arsenal's 2-2 draw earlier in the day and answered questions about their own ability to grind out results from difficult assignments.

    Success at Vicarage Road came courtesy of Riyad Mahrez's second-half goal.

    Yet, Ranieri maintained his poker face and played down the growing confidence among Leicester fans that the club can complete the most remarkable title triumph in Premier League history.

    "I don't dream," said Ranieri. "I continue to work hard.

    "For our fans, it's good. They dream and I work.

    "It's a good combination.

    "But you can see in the Premier League that every match is a battle, not just for us, but for everybody, and five points is nothing.

    "Now our mind is on Newcastle, which is another tough match at home.

    "We want to fight. We know we can win or we can lose but I want to see my team as they were against Watford, concentrating and with hard work.

    "If I see that, I am happy and the results are not important."

    Mahrez gave supporters an injury scare after his goal when he pulled up holding his hamstring.

    But he continued to play before he was substituted.

    Ranieri allayed fears by confirming that the Algerian was simply suffering from cramp.

    Leicester now have a nine-day break before returning to action against Newcastle in the first of their nine remaining games.

    "We are very happy but we know there will be another nine battles, not only for us," said Ranieri.

    "The Premier League is fantastic. Nobody now can say who will win the title.

    "We aren't nervous. Our job is done.

    "Our job was to save the team, and doing this was an amazing achievement."

    The result extended Leicester's unbeaten run to three matches since they were defeated at Arsenal.

    They have lost just three times in the league.

    Watford have won just one of their last six Premier League games and had to contend with the late loss of Miguel Britos to a hamstring injury in the warm-up.

    They were undone by Mahrez's superb strike but manager Quique Sanchez Flores believes his side lost to genuine title contenders.

    "Leicester look like a very good team," he said. "I like them. They are no different to what we expected.

    "They were really intense in the middle and got back every time. They were very quick in attack, a very good team.

    "We respected them before the match and we respect them now."