Leicester City’s unlikely Premier League title challenge took another major upturn with a gritty 1-0 win at Watford on Saturday as their closest challengers cancelled each other out.
Riyad Mahrez conjured a fine goal to see off Watford and send Leicester five points clear at the top after second-placed Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, who are third, drew 2-2 at White Hart Lane.
“It was an important win, a big battle,” City manager Claudio Ranieri told the BBC. “Now there will be battles for everybody not just for us.
“It was a tough match. We created four or five chances, they created two or three. We are so happy now.”
With nine games remaining, bookmakers cut the odds on Leicester winning their first top-flight crown to 11-10.
“The title is not ours. We have to fight a lot, step by step and keep our feet on the ground. At the end we can see what happens,” Ranieri said.
Algerian Mahrez scored his 15th league goal of the season following a sweet strike from the edge of the penalty area in the 56th minute before being substituted. Ranieri, though, played down concerns about the inspirational forward’s fitness.
“No injury, he was tired and had a little cramp so I changed him in the late minutes,” the Italian said. “His goal was so important.”
Leicester next host Newcastle United on March 14 before a trip to Crystal Palace.
“We know every team can win or lose so it has to be slowly, slowly,” Ranieri said. “The desire is so high now and we have a great opportunity.”