City, Leicester highlight 'Prem' weekend
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
It sums up the erratic nature of this season's Premier League that a match between Chelsea and Manchester United has been relegated to a mere sideshow just as the title race is getting interesting.
Instead, this weekend is all about whether Leicester can pull off their biggest shock yet and finally be recognised as genuine title contenders.
Leicester, which battled relegation all of last season, take a three-point lead to Manchester City today in a match between the top-two sides in the league. A victory would guarantee Leicester at least a five-point lead with 13 matches remaining.
Surely that would make the team favourites for the title, and set up one of the most unlikely storyline in English football history.
"It's not a coincidence we're top of the table," Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater said. "This is team spirit at its highest. We won't stop believing.
"We're staying on the ground, but if we carry on the way we are, then why not have the belief (to win the league)? It would go down in history surely."
Even a draw would be fine for Leicester, which visit another title challenger in Arsenal the following weekend before a benign run of games.
City, though, will want to send a message to Leicester's upstarts and collect a fourth straight win in all competitions to take over in first place on goal difference.
Seeking a third league title in five years, City have extra motivation for the run-in - giving departing coach Manuel Pellegrini a successful send-off after it was announced this week that Pep Guardiola would the club's manager from next season.
"Manchester (City) are built to win the title, to win the Champions League," Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said Thursday as he continued to downplay his team's chances of winning the league.
Asked who will win the title, Ranieri chuckled and said with a smile: "The others."
City said Thursday that captain Vincent Kompany is back in training after a six-week lay-off with a calf injury.
Chelsea - the defending champions - and Manchester United - a record 20-time champion - already are also-rans in the title race, although United will boost their ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League with a win at Stamford Bridge tomorrow. United are in fifth place, five points off the Champions League qualification spots and 10 points behind Leicester.
Chelsea are 13th and can probably forget about making up ground to the European positions in the top five.
Arsenal are winless in their last four league games and have dropped to fourth, behind Tottenham on goal difference, ahead of a visit to Bournemouth tomorrow.
Also today, it's: Liverpool vs. Sunderland; Aston Villa vs Norwich; Newcastle vs West Bromwich Albion; Swansea vs Crystal Palace; and Southampton vs West Ham.