Belfast Telegraph

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri says Premier League leaders Chelsea can be caught

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri believes Premier League leaders Chelsea can be caught.

The defending champions host Chelsea on Saturday with Antonio Conte's side five points clear at the top of the table.

Their 13-game winning league run ended with a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham this month but the Blues remain in the driving seat to regain the title they won in 2015.

Chelsea have only lost three times in the league during Conte's first season in charge but Ranieri feels they are not guaranteed the title.

"Yes, they can be caught," said the 65-year-old, who managed Chelsea between 2000 and 2004. "T hey started not so well but after a few matches Conte understood the team and the players.

"They made a good start and lost to Tottenham after 13 (straight wins) which is an amazing achievement. We expect a lot from them but we are ready to fight and win.

"Yes it's harder (to win from the front). But I think everyone wants to be up there and not behind, that is much better. But the league is very long and they must be careful.

"I am a sporting man, I want the best to win the title but of course, if I had to give someone the title, why not Chelsea?

"I expect a strong reaction from them. They are old champions and they want to make up for defeat."

Leicester replaced Chelsea as champions, with the Blues finishing 10th last season, but Ranieri believes normality has returned to the Premier League.

"Last season was something strange," said the Italian, who is without Leonardo Ulloa (thigh) and unlikely to select Jeff Schlupp as he nears a move to Crystal Palace.

"This season it's normal. Chelsea are in the first position and Leicester are there (15th) - that's all, last season was strange. We'll come back, don't worry."

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