LONDON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri said his only thoughts were on his side reaching the 40-point target that usually guarantees Premier League survival despite their rapidly shortening odds to win the title.
Bookmakers will not be hitting the panic button yet after installing City as 2000-1 shots before a ball was kicked this season, but Saturday’s 3-0 win at Swansea City put the Foxes top of the table by two points after nearly one third of the season.
With Riyad Mahrez’s hat-trick in south Wales securing victory, Leicester’s points tally reached 32 from 15 games and their title odds were slashed to 33-1 by leading bookmakers William Hill, although Italian Ranieri was unimpressed.
“We are only thinking about ourselves and taking points to achieve our goal which is 40 points, to be safe,” the former Chelsea boss told the BBC.
Leicester’s transformation since they were bottom with nine games to go last season has been astonishing as they carry on a revival that began under former manager Nigel Pearson.
They won seven and drew one of their remaining fixtures last term with the sole loss being against champions Chelsea.
This season they are unbeaten away in the lesague with an overall record that reads - won nine, drawn five, lost one.
Should they still be above the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United after Christmas even Ranieri might start taking their top-four credentials seriously.
“Now, we arrive at a very big rock because we have Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City,” said Ranieri. “Then, it’s good to see how we will react.”
Even more pleasing for the Italian on Saturday was that when England striker Jamie Vardy’s record 11-match scoring sequence in the Premier League ended, someone else stepped up.
“Everyone is looking at Jamie Vardy scoring goals and now it is Mahrez,” he said. “I was so pleased with Jamie when he had the ball and the chance to shoot at goal and he chose instead to pass to Mahrez to score the hat-trick.” (Reporting by Martyn Herma; Editing by Ken Ferris)