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Puel hopes Leicester can maintain ‘big club’ run

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(FILES) This file photo taken on April 1, 2017 shows Southampton’s French manager Claude Puel watching from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Bournemouth at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England. Claude Puel was sacked as Southampton manager on June 14, 2017, after just one season in charge, the English Premier Club announced. Puel, 55, took Southampton to a respectable eighth-place finish in the table and to the League Cup final where they were defeated by Manchester United. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

Leicester City manager Claude Puel believes his side will be inspired by facing the Premier League’s top teams as they begin a tough run of fixtures.

First up for the Foxes is a trip to league leaders Liverpool on Wednesday, with in-form Manchester United visiting the King Power Stadium on Sunday before Leicester travel to London for a match against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on February 10.

But French manager Puel is buoyed by the way Leicester beat both Chelsea and champions Manchester City during the Christmas holiday period, having drawn with Pep Guardiola’s men in the League Cup earlier in December before losing in a penalty shoot-out.

“The three next games is a fantastic challenge for them,” said Puel of the task now awaiting Leicester.

“We have shown we can perform against good teams, we have won games also against good teams. I hope we can continue in this way.”

Puel said the better the opponent, the better his side performed.

“My players prefer to play against good teams like this and to show their level. It’s less pressure, they can give their best with freedom. In this situation we can create an upset.

“We know the difficulty, and people outside think we can not have a chance to win a point, but we are confident because we showed a lot of qualities in the last games against big teams and great teams.

“I hope that we can have the possibility of winning against Liverpool, and then United at home. I hope we can create an upset,” he added.

Leicester is currently ninth in the table, 12 points above the relegation zone, but if the 2015/16 Premier League champions are to press on they could do with ridding themselves of their recent habit of conceding early goals.

The Midlands club has been behind before 11 minutes were on the clock in each of their last three matches, going on to lose every time — including a shock defeat in the FA Cup by Newport County.

“We have some difficulties to start our games and after we have to chase the game against strong defensive units then it is always difficult, since the beginning of the season,” said Puel.

“Sometimes we manage our game at the beginning and it is a good performance. The most important thing is to have the right intensity, focus and concentration for the beginning.”


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