LONDON: Leicester City finished the year second only on goal difference to Arsenal at the top of the Premier League after a goalless home draw with Manchester City. Yet the Foxes were bottom of the table 12 months ago.
After defeat at Anfield on Boxing Day, Claudio Ranieri’s team revived for a draw which kept City down in third place and without an away win in the league in six outings since a 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace on September 12.
Ranieri said: “I think we made a very good match. It was difficult but we played well, we created some chances.
“I wanted to see how my players responded after the Liverpool defeat and they responded well.
“This league is very crazy. I think the big teams have to stay at a high level, but sometimes it means nobody wants to win the league – it’s very strange this league.
“It’s not easy for us but we want to fight with everybody. It’s a miracle what we’re doing
“I’d love this to continue but it’s not easy. I’d like my players to continue to fight like today. It’s fantastic.
“I can only say well done to our players and our fans are unbelievable, they support us and they push us.”
City manager Manuel Pellegrini was happy with Manchester City’s first clean sheet without Vincent Kompany this season.
Kompany returned from injury as a substitute on Boxing Day but soon limped off again and faces another three to four weeks out because of a new problem with the same calf.
With Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala yet to keep a clean sheet prior to Tuesday, some City fans may have feared the worst facing the league’s joint-highest scorers without their captain.
However, the expensive and often criticised central defensive pairing produced an accomplished display at the King Power Stadium, keeping Leicester’s top scorer Jamie Vardy quiet for much of the game, while the Foxes’ other danger man Riyad Mahrez was also reduced to a bit-part role.
Pellegrini refuted claims City had come for a draw, though.
He said: “I think we are returning to a very solid and consistent team, which is important.
“One of the good things about tonight is that we kept a clean sheet after many games without. But I am not happy because we came here to try to win the game.
“We went for the three points and I think that we had more possession than Leicester and more attempts and did more things to win the game.
“But of course if you can’t win then it is very important you don’t lose and we were a very solid and consistent team defending against a very difficult team like Leicester who have players in a very good moment and that always scores goals.
“I am not happy but not disappointed also because I think we played well but we couldn’t score.
“I don’t think in December you can say who will be in the frame to win the title. At the end of January after six or seven more games maybe we can see more which teams will be involved.”