Puel challenges Leicester to be best of the rest


London (AFP) – Leicester manager Claude Puel has challenged the former Premier League champions to win the “second championship” as the club prepare for the run-in to the end of the season.

The Foxes astonished football under Claudio Ranieri when they shunted English football’s aristocrats aside to win the title in 2016 but the “Big Six” have flexed their muscles and the top of the table has a familiar look.

Puel admits that competing with their bigger rivals again is currently a pipe dream.

Asked if seventh place was a realistic target, he said: “Of course, the first six places are difficult, to play against these great teams.

“I hope in the future we can evolve and go up against these teams, but for the moment, there’s a second championship, I think.

“Of course it will be a good thing if we can compete with all the teams around this position because I think it’s close between many teams.

“It’s a good challenge until the end of the season to play and to try to have a good place, a good position in the table.”

Leicester head into their match against Stoke on Saturday fresh from securing an FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea and are sitting in eighth, a point behind Burnley, but 10 shy of Arsenal in sixth.

Striker Jamie Vardy has scored in each of his past five games, although it is not just the England international’s potency which has impressed his manager.

“I’m happy because he’s clinical and for a striker, it’s the most important thing,” said Puel. “But also, he can play with his team-mates with good combination and good understanding with them and he has made progress also in the collective play.

“That’s interesting. He is 31, but he continues to make progress. That’s good.”

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