English Premiership

Can Leicester be league champions?

Claudio Ranieri (Getty)
Claudio Ranieri (Getty)

Manchester — The likelihood of Leicester playing in the Champions League next season is growing stronger by the game.

The even more fanciful notion of Leicester as English Premier League champions? We'll have a much better idea in about two weeks.

The team that narrowly avoided relegation last season are the surprise leaders by three points with 15 matches remaining, and they are 10 points clear of fifth-place Manchester United. If Leicester can emerge from their next three games with a lead intact, English soccer could be in for its most unlikely league champions in a generation.

The team led by Claudio Ranieri hosts Liverpool on Tuesday in the standout match of a full midweek program in the Premier League. Away matches at Manchester City and Arsenal — the other members of the current top three — come next for Leicester, before a run of seemingly benign games while their title rivals resume their campaigns in Europe.

There's no sign of Leicester slowing down, either, having beaten Tottenham away and Stoke 3-0 in two of their last three matches.

Liverpool have been inconsistent of late, but are one of only two teams to have defeated Leicester this season. Both teams will be fresh after the fourth round of the FA Cup, with Leicester inactive after being eliminated and Liverpool fielding their reserves in a 0-0 draw against West Ham on Saturday.

"We will have fresh legs against Leicester and that's the good news," said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, whose team has played a game every three of four days since Christmas.

"It's an intensive time. Hopefully we have players to come back from injury and we will have enough."