Apr 15, 2016

    Ranieri: Last 5 games 'will be terrible'


    THE last time Leicester City hosted West Ham United in the Premier League just over a year ago, they beat them 2-1 through a late goal to spark a revival that has shown no sign of slowing down ever since.

    Leicester, who won six of their next eight games to avoid what had seemed inevitable relegation, welcome the Hammers back to the King Power Stadium on Sunday, needing three more victories to seal their first English top-flight title.

    Claudio Ranieri's team have lost only three times in 33 league matches this season.

    They will move 10 points clear of their only serious remaining challengers Tottenham Hotspur with a sixth successive win. Spurs face Stoke City on Monday.

    Leicester opened up a 10-point gap last week when they kept a fifth successive clean sheet to beat relegation-threatened Sunderland 2-0. But Spurs reduced the gap to seven points when they plundered three goals in six minutes to beat Manchester United 3-0 at White Hart Lane.

    Spurs almost certainly need to win to keep the title race alive and, although Leicester are within touching distance of the finish, manager Ranieri is not looking forward to the run-in.

    "The last five matches will be terrible because nothing is decided yet as far as the title is concerned," he said.

    "Tottenham are not giving up and we have to stay focused. Our mission is to do the best we can - then if Tottenham overtake us, we will compliment them; it is the law of sport."

    Leicester have 72 points from 33 games and Spurs 65 from 33.

    The London side are six points clear of Arsenal whose manager Arsene Wenger virtually conceded his team blew their chance last week after losing a two-goal lead in a 3-3 draw at West Ham.

    Arsenal do have a game in hand on their arch-rivals Spurs and are determined to maintain their record of never finishing below them in the 20 seasons Wenger has been in charge.

    They face Crystal Palace, who drew 0-0 with Everton on Wednesday, and it would be a surprise if Arsenal slip up in a second successive London derby.

    Manchester City, who qualified for the Champions League semi-finals for the first time on Tuesday, visit mid-table outgoing champions Chelsea.

    City are determined to stay ahead of local neighbours United, who beat West Ham 2-1 on Wednesday to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

    United, in fifth and four points behind City, face virtually doomed Aston Villa at Old Trafford with the visitors needing victory to have any chance of avoiding dropping out of the top tier for the first time since 1988.


    Weekend fixtures


    Norwich v Sunderland

    Everton v Southampton

    Man Utd v Aston Villa

    Newcastle v Swansea

    West Brom v Watford


    Chelsea v Man City

    Bournemouth v Liverpool

    Leicester v West Ham

    Arsenal v Crystal Palace


    Stoke v Tottenham