Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri backs Chelsea to finish in top four
By Paul Vinnell
Last Updated: 10/12/15 5:31pm
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri believes Chelsea will finish in the top four of the Premier League despite their poor start to the season.
Jose Mourinho's men are down in 15th place in the table, 17 points behind Ranieri's table-topping Foxes.
The pair go head to head next Monday, live on Sky Sports, and whatever happens in that match, Ranieri expects Mourinho to guide the reigning champions back into a Champions League spot by the end of the season.
Chelsea booked their place in the last 16 of this season's tournament with a 2-0 win over Porto on Wednesday night, and Ranieri was an interested observer.
"Chelsea are Chelsea and Mourinho is Mourinho. I'm sure by the end, they will be in the top four," he said.
"Until now maybe they have a bit of bad luck, but this will change. I respect them a lot. I watched the game last night, they played fantastically - moved the ball quickly, defended well, and they can do that.
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"They are the champions. I'm sure in a few months they will be back, and they will be ready to fight."
Ranieri said that his target remains 40 points, the total which should mean they are safe from relegation, but admits he is enjoying the attention the club are receiving.
"Everybody knows us a little more. It's good for the club, the city and the fans," he said.
"Let me achieve 40 points and then I can tell you what our goal is. It's a good time to test our team at the moment. We want to test our team to see what they can do this season. That's my goal."
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After Chelsea, the Foxes are away at Everton and Liverpool, before hosting Manchester City.
Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have been grabbing the headlines with their goalscoring feats, but with their tough run over Christmas, Ranieri says he needs top performances all over the field.
"For us clean sheets are very important. Sooner or later we will score, so if we maintain a clean sheet, we can win," he said.
"It's not important who scores, it's important that the team scores and that the team plays well."