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Claudio Ranieri wants Leicester to better 39 points from first half of season

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Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said he felt his side had lost two points after drawing 1-1 with Aston Villa

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri has set his side a target of reaching 79 Premier League points after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.

Ranieri constantly preached his desire for Leicester to reach 40 points before even talking about top-flight safety, but he now appears to have his sights on a place in Europe at the very least.

The draw at Villa Park put Leicester back on top of the table, on 44 points, although Arsenal could reclaim the summit by claiming a point against Stoke on Sunday.

"What we are doing is fantastic, nobody could imagine Leicester at the top of the league in January," Ranieri told Sky Sports after Saturday Night Football.

"We had 39 points in the first half of the season, I said 'okay we are ambitious, we want to improve' and it is important to try to get 40 points [in the second half of the season]. I know it is difficult but that is our target now. We try, we try."

But Ranieri admitted Leicester had thrown away two points at their struggling Midlands rivals.

Aston Villa's Rudy Gestede (left) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's equaliser v Leicester City, Premier League
Image: Aston Villa's Rudy Gestede (left) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's equaliser

Shinji Okazaki opened the scoring in the first half before Rudy Gestede came off the bench to rescue a point, and Ranieri believes the game was there for the taking.

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"I think we had the match in our hands and we lost two points, but that is football," he added.

"It was a tough match, a local derby, and it's okay. In the first half, Aston Villa were very, very nervous and we started very well. We scored and had a chance to close the match but were unlucky."

Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team-mates during the Barclays Premier League match at Aston Villa
Image: Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City celebrates after opening the scoring

Riyad Mahrez had a chance to put Leicester two up from the spot, but saw his kick saved by Villa keeper Mark Bunn. Up the other end, Ranieri thinks his side were unfortunate to concede after Gestede handled the ball in the build-up to his equaliser.

And he says a decision over whether to replace Mahrez as his penalty-taker is not one that overly concerns him.

"There was a handball the referee didn't see," the Leicester boss continued. "After we conceded a goal, the striker touched the ball with a hand and controlled the ball. Against Tottenham, that gave us a penalty and today nobody watched the handball.

"Now is not important if I change the penalty man. I will speak with him and then I'll choose."

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