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Claudio Ranieri urges Leicester to savour success

Claudio Ranieri

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has told his side to revel in their success so far this term after last season's struggle to avoid relegation from the lucrative Premier League.

The Foxes head into this weekend's round of fixtures a surprise second in the table, with Arsenal at the top of the standings on goal difference alone.

Wednesday saw Leicester beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 and maintain a push for the Premier League title that not even the Foxes' most ardent fans could have predicted at the start of the campaign.

It is all a far cry from last season when a dramatic run of seven wins in their last nine games under former manager Nigel Pearson saw Leicester beat the drop after spending much of the time in the relegation zone.

Ranieri, speaking ahead of his side's trip across the Midlands to bottom of the table Aston Villa, said Friday: "This is a young team and because last season was about fighting for survival they know the bitter taste of fighting at the bottom.

"Now they taste the cake at the top of the table and the difference is very high.

"I try to motivate my players but it's important they have the right mentality," the Italian added. "I want to see our performance and, after, the result is not important for me.

"I told my players 'you fight' -- afterwards we look at which mistake you made and then we look at it in training," the former Chelsea manager explained.

With Arsenal not in action again until Sunday, a point at Villa Park on Saturday would see Leicester regain top spot in the table.

Villa, however, ended their 19-match winless run with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Tuesday and Ranieri said: "I know now there is another tough match, perhaps tougher than Tottenham.

"Villa are a good team and I remember the first game and how difficult it was to beat them (Leicester won 3-2 after being 2-0 down). They have won their last match and are now confident."

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Man. City ready to challenge for Champions League

Sergio Aguero

Manchester City are preparing for the round of 16 after qualifying for the knockout stage with two games to spare.

Sergio Aguero believes Manchester City have what it takes to mount a Champions League challenge as they look forward to a third consecutive last-16 tie.

City are already assured of a spot in the round of 16 ahead of Wednesday's trip to last season's finalists Juventus.

Aguero and Co. secured qualification with two matches to spare in Group D.

City have bad memories of the last 16, and Barcelona in particular, following back-to-back exits at the hands of the Champions League holders in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

However, Aguero feels City - who will be looking to cement top spot in the group - now have sufficient experience not to fear Europe's best.

"Since I arrived here, the draw in the Champions League has been very tough on City, and we have always drawn great teams in the group stages, teams which got to the semis or the final," he said.

"But we have to be prepared for that - in the last few Champions Leagues we have maybe not had the experience, maybe some players did not know what it was to play in the Champions League, but what you respect is the club, isn't it?

"So the first times were difficult - the nerves, the expectations - but now most of us have enough experience, we have very good players who are going to do a lot for us, and I think we are on the right path. There is still a lot of time to achieve things."

Aguero is the key to City's hopes of making an impact in Europe's premier competition, and the Manchester club will be hoping he can stay injury-free until the end of the season.

The Argentina international striker returned from a six-week injury lay-off last week, scoring a goal in City's 4-1 humbling at home to Liverpool on Saturday.

Aguero's hamstring setback, however, will not force the 27-year-old into altering the way he plays.

"You cannot truly measure the intensity with which you play," he added.

"And on top of that, I always try to kick into top gear. I can't imagine playing in any other way.

"Sometimes these unfortunate things happen but the ultimate reward only comes if you give it your all."

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FC Sevilla chase Gladbach win to keep Champions League

FC Sevilla chase Gladbach win to keep Champions League

FC Sevilla need a victory at winless Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday to keep alive their faint hopes of progress to the Champions League's knockout stage in the Group D basement battle.

A win at bottom side Gladbach is the only way third-placed Sevilla will still have any hope of reaching the last 16, when they host Juventus on December 8.

Victory at Borussia Park would guarantee them at least a place in the Europa League, which they have won for the last two years running.

With Gladbach's Champions League exit already confirmed, defeat would confirm the Germans will finish bottom of the group, but they want to knock Sevilla from third to advance to the Europa League.

"We need to be courageous and play our own game, like we did against Juventus," said Gladbach's Guinea winger Ibrahima Traore.

"Our confidence is high, we are in good shape and our goal is third place to qualify for the Europa League."

Gladbach are buoyed by their German league form which has seen them climb from bottom to fourth with seven wins and a draw in their eight Bundesliga games since Andre Schubert took charge in September.

"We have to go to our absolute limit and give it everything we have," said Schubert, whose side sealed a 2-1 win over Hanover on Saturday in his first game as head coach, with a contract until 2017, after two months as caretaker boss.

"We aren't under any pressure, but we do have a duty to give it our all."

Having drawn 1-1 last time out at home to Juventus, Gladbach want another strong performance.

Schubert has breathed life back into Gladbach with a consistent team selection policy, bringing in talented teenagers Andreas Christensen and Mahmoud Dahoud and tightening the defence.

He has also given Swiss defensive midfielder Graint Xhaka the captaincy and the 23-year-old, who has been linked to a big-money move to Liverpool, has revelled in the role.

The Foals are nine unbeaten since losing at home to Manchester City at the start of September and had few problems beating mid-table Hanover on Saturday with goals by Traore and Brazilian striker Raffael.

Sevilla are 11th in the Spanish league.

They inflicted a first defeat of the season on La Liga giants Real Madrid with a 3-2 home win three weeks ago when ex-Borussia Dortmund striker Ciro Immobile scored his maiden goal for the club.

But on Saturday, they crashed 2-0 at Real Sociedad, who were playing their first match since David Moyes was sacked after a run of six defeats in nine games.

Portugal goalkeeper Beto (knee injury), Gaeel Kakuta (thigh) and defender Daniel Carri~CHECK~o (hamstring) will all miss the game with injury.

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Wenger wants Arsenal response in North London derby

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger has called for Arsenal to show they mean business against Tottenham following their Champions League humiliation.

After being humiliated in the Champions League by Bayern Munich, Arsene Wenger wants his Arsenal side to respond in the best way possible when they take on rivals Tottenham on Sunday.

Arsenal were humbled 5-1 by the Bundesliga champions at Allianz Arena last week, a result that left the Londoners on the brink of an early Champions League exit.

However, Arsenal are joint-top of the Premier League table alongside Manchester City and will be looking to maintain their title push against the club's North London rivals.

"That is what is at stake, to respond," Wenger said.

"We have to be in the fight at Christmas. The desire is there. We need to show it in all our games.

"What is positive for us is, if you look at our fixtures until now, we have played all the big teams and the teams fighting at the top apart from Man City.

"When we were top two years ago we had only played the teams in the second half of the table. This time we are in a strong position and we have played many teams who are in the top half of the table."

While Arsenal are on the verge of a Champions League elimination at the group stages, Wenger has not given up hope of progression,

"We can still have a bright future in the Champions League," he said. "I feel we are not out of the competition yet.

"Of all the teams I have seen Bayern would be the super favourite. We knew before the game that Bayern was a special game for us and that the Premier League is a competition where we are on a strong run up to now and we want to continue that.

"This weekend we have a good opportunity to put things right."

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Klopp takes Liverpool stars to Russia

Klopp takes Liverpool stars to Russia

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has travelled to Russia with a full-strength squad for the Europa League tie against Rubin Kazan.

Striker Christian Benteke, a goalscoring understitute in the 3-1 win at Chelsea on Saturday, is in the party along with all the others who were involved in the victory at Stamford Bridge.

Youngsters Pedro Chirivella, Cameron Brannagan and back-up goalkeeper Ryan Fulton are included but midfielder Joao Teixeira is ineligible and defender Connor Randall, who made his debut against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup last week, has not travelled.

Klopp’s policy is different to those of predecessor Brendan Rodgers, who on the club’s only other European trip this season left six senior players at home when they flew to Bordeaux in September.

He named a strong side for his first European game at home to the Russians and looks set to do the same in the return fixture.

As the German has had no pre-season to work with the squad he needs to use every opportunity to find out as much as he can about his players as he approaches a month in charge.

Liverpool, who have had three successive 1-1 draws in Europe this season, at the very least have to avoid defeat in Kazan if they are to avoid a tricky conclusion to their Group B campaign.

They currently trail leaders Sion by four points and are ahead of Kazan by only a point with Bordeaux to follow in their final home game ahead a trip to Switzerland in December.

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