LEICESTER: Claudio Ranieri believes Jamie Vardy and his Leicester team-mates have been revitalised just in time for their crunch Premier League clashes with Manchester City and Arsenal. Ranieri’s shock table-toppers travel to City on Saturday before facing Arsenal with their confidence sky-high after underlining their title credentials with an impressive 2-0 win over Liverpool at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.
Vardy added to his growing reputation with two goals, including a 30-yard wonder-strike, that took his tally for the season to 18 and emphasised his own return to form following groin surgery at the start of January. “It was an unbelievable pass from Riyad Mahrez and unbelievable what Vardy did,” Leicester boss Ranieri said of the opening goal. “He watched the ball arriving, watched the opponent and watched the keeper.
“He looked at the keeper out of the goal and hit it. “It was unbelievable, amazing, fantastic. “Now it is one month more or less since he restarted training. “Before that he didn’t train. He played matches without training and that’s not easy. “He continued to score but slowly he slowed down. “Now he is refreshed, he is a new Vardy, he presses a lot and he scores goals.” Leicester rested at the weekend following their exit from the FA Cup and produced an energetic display to beat Liverpool and move three points clear of second placed Manchester City ahead of their summit meeting. After a slump over Christmas, Leicester once again look capable of maintaining their incredible bid to win the English title and Ranieri sees no reason why they can’t keep it up.
“In training sessions I saw my players refreshed,” said Ranieri. “After Christmas we were a little tired but now they’re getting better. “Now I’m curious because on Saturday we have to run, run, run a lot. “Against City it will be another tough match but it was important to start this month well. “For me it’s important to see my players fight and try to win. “Sooner or later we’ll lose a match but that’s not important. “What’s important is how we lose. If there is a great goal from (an) opponent, well done – but we have to fight. If Man City fight more than us, well done to them.”
Liverpool were well beaten, with boss Jurgen Klopp blaming a congested fixture schedule for a lack of intensity from his players. “It’s nice to be in the stadium when Jamie Vardy makes the Goal of the Month – but in an ideal world you are not the manager of the other team!” he said. “We saw that this goal made the difference. “I don’t feel too good in this moment. I know we lost and we have to accept it, absolutely no problem.
“But with a few things done differently we could have won this game. And if you can win a game you should do it in my opinion. But we didn’t. “I need a few minutes to cool down! “Our problem today was not (the need) to run more – or to run more intensively. “Our problem was when we had the ball in the right position we did not make the right decisions. That is all. “They (Leicester) had 10 days off and we had three games. “If we could have played with the same intensity as them, they would have done something wrong.” —AFP