Leicester have shown this season they have nothing to fear when facing the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ as they try to establish their own place within that group, according to boss Brendan Rodgers.
The Foxes host runaway leaders Manchester City on Saturday, having already beaten Pep Guardiola’s side 5-2 at the Etihad back in September.
That was the first of a string of encouraging results that also saw Leicester beat Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United – the latter in the FA Cup – over the course of the campaign, putting them top of a mini-table formed of the group.
Rodgers’ side have already taken 16 points from eight league games against those six, seven more than in all of last season, a key reason why they find themselves seven points clear of fifth-placed West Ham and nipping at the heels of United in second.
“It’s always very, very difficult playing at this level but we’ve shown as a collective when we can play to the highest level of our game we can really compete with the so-called ‘Big Six’,” Rodgers said.
“We’ve been able to do that in a lot of the games. It comes from a maturity, it comes from the time working together and from the players. Once you’ve had one or two victories you get the belief you can do it more.
“It’s something we have consistently done this season and I hope by the end of the season it’s even more points.”
With City boasting a 14-point lead over United, Rodgers said he believed his side were hosting the champions this weekend, but for his own side there is still all to play for.
Leicester have been in the top four of the table from the very first week of the season and are well on course for a first return to the Champions League since their unexpected Premier League title in 2016.
But given the Foxes spent 33 weeks in the top four last campaign, only to drop out in the final two rounds of fixtures, Rodgers is taking nothing for granted.
“I’ve always said it’s about finishing as high as we can,” he said. “That’s what we want to achieve, that’s our aim. I said that on the first day and I’ll say it on the last day.
“It’s highly unlikely we’ll catch Manchester City but we’re one point away from second so we have to keep looking forward and after 38 games we’ll find out where we are.
“I’ve said before we’re not in the top four. We’ll only be there if we’re there after 38 games. People will try to add some pressure because we’ve been around the top four all season, ‘Will you stay there?’, but that doesn’t concern me.
“Great, we’ve been there but it’s about where you finish. We aim to finish strong.”
Rodgers may not be getting carried away by top four talk at this stage, but he said it was also important that went for the players too.
“It’s just constant reinforcement, constant managing of the energy of the players,” he said of his message to the squad. “Not to waste time on any narrative, good or bad. We can only focus on ourselves.
“We don’t know what Manchester City will bring this weekend, or West Ham next weekend, but we can do everything we can to bring our ‘A’ game and see where it takes us.”