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Ranieri eyes crucial February run for leaders Leicester

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri believes a tough February fixture list could come to define the club's fairytale bid for the Premier League title.

Ranieri's men returned to the top of the table with a dominant 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday, before watching nearest rivals Manchester City and Arsenal drop points.

Defeat to Tottenham in the FA Cup third round means Leicester are enjoying a 10-day break from action before hosting Liverpool on February 2 - the only side to have beaten them in the Premier League since September.

Potentially pivotal back-to-back away trips to City and Arsenal follow after Jurgen Klopp's team visit, before relegation-threatened Norwich City visit the King Power Stadium.

"I told the players in the briefing that the month of February is very, very tough, so it was important to be top of the league," Ranieri told Leicester's official website.

"If a bad moment arrives, we are strong to get over this bad moment. February will be crucial for us."

The veteran Italian coach believes the fighting spirit shown by his squad bodes well for the battles ahead.

"For me it's important to let our fans dream," Ranieri added. "We will lose, I know we will, but it's important that we fight until the end.

"I wasn't a big champion when I played, but my character was very strong and I see the team is like my character."