Leicester City’s hopes of a top-four spot evaporated late last season as several players lacked the experience of challenging at the top end of the table but manager Brendan Rodgers said it is better equipped to handle the pressure this time around.
Leicester, surprise champion in 2016, was second in the Premier League after Christmas last season before a poor run of form saw it slip to fifth, outside the Champions League places. It is in contention again this season, sitting second on 27 points, four behind Liverpool and one ahead of third-placed Manchester United, which it hosts later on Saturday.
“This Christmas, compared to last, it’s a different feeling. There’s a feeling of maturity and development,” Rodgers, who took over in February 2019, said at a news conference.
“The team is growing the longer we are together. That’s only a good sign, if you want to be continuously improving. Last season was probably the first time in a number of years where the team had been right up there, so that feeling was new to a lot of the players and that can lead to some inconsistency.”
Rodgers said Leicester’s 5-2 victory at Manchester City in September and its 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday was proof it is bridging the gap to the league’s richest clubs.
“The players believe in what they are doing. There is a nice, quiet confidence,” he added. “We don’t have the finances of the top six clubs but let’s see if we can work in a different way to get in there.”
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