Dickov: Leicester title run built to last


Ex-Scotland international Paul Dickov believes his former club Leicester City can maintain their remarkable Premier League title challenge until the season finale.

Claudio Ranieri's surprise table-toppers made their most resounding statement of intent to date on Saturday, when they ruthlessly dismissed title rivals Manchester City 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

The result left them five points clear at the summit, ahead of north London duo Tottenham and Arsenal, and Leicester travel to Emirates Stadium for another mouth-watering clash this weekend.

Speaking to Omnisport, Dickov gave high praise to Ranieri and his predecessor Nigel Pearson - the latter guiding Leicester clear of seemingly certain relegation last term to make this season's staggering progress possible.

"I think it's absolutely fantastic and I can see it lasting," said Dickov, who also featured for Arsenal and Manchester City during a 21-year playing career.

"If you go back to September time, everyone was going 'oh, next week they're going to falter, next week...'

"If you'd said [they were title challengers] at the start of the season people would have thought you were mad, but what a job Claudio Ranieri has done.

"A lot of credit has got to go to Nigel Pearson as well, for keeping them in the division and a lot of the players who are in Leicester's team were there in the Championship two years ago - which makes it even more remarkable.

"You look at Jamie Vardy, you look at Riyad Mahrez, Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Drinkwater - they were all playing in the Championship two years ago.

"If you look at the rise they've had, as individuals and as a club, it's brilliant."

Arsenal got their bid for a first Premier League crown since 2004 back on track with a 2-0 victory at AFC Bournemouth on Sunday - ending a winless run of four matches.

Inconsistency from Arsene Wenger's men has prompted familiar questions surrounding their temperament under the pressures of a title race, but Dickov believes injuries have been a major factor for a side he expects to also fight to the finish.

"I was down at the Emirates when they beat Manchester City before Christmas and they looked a top, top team then," he said.

"I really do expect them to be up there at the end. They've had a lot of players out injured this year as well - I think at one stage they had 10 players out who might have been in the team.

"To keep up with everybody, and they're getting these players back for the end of the season, they'll definitely be up there.

"I don't think it's a mentality thing. I think they've got winners right throughout their team and world-class players.

"It's going to be tight, it's going to be good."