ENGLAND - Leicester City's win over Newcastle on Monday not only sent them five points clear of Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the Premier League, it effectively ended the challenge of Manchester City and Arsenal, said Southampton manager Ronald Koeman.
While Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has consistently batted away the "favourites" tag with the season winding down, his side have amassed 63 points, five ahead of Spurs, with eight matches to go.
They also stand 11 points clear of third-placed Arsenal and 12 ahead of Manchester City, and while both those sides have a game in hand, Koeman said Leicester's 1-0 win on Monday had changed the complexion of the title race. "It will now be a new situation for them because 11 points from Arsenal ... 12 (ahead of) City, they are out of the title (race)," the Dutchman told Sky Sports television.
"It will be a fight between Tottenham and Leicester, and that makes the difference between before the game and after the game."
Leicester, who made an unlikely escape from relegation last term, were among the bookmakers favourites to go down this season but now need a maximum of 20 points from the last eight games to clinch their first top-flight title.
Koeman, who won three league titles as a manager with Ajax and PSV Eindhoven and eight in his playing days with the Dutch sides and Barcelona, said the fact that Leicester were within touching distance of the title would play on their minds.
"It's now a fight between two teams and before this game it was still a fight between maybe four or five. And that's the difference, that starts to run in your mind as a Leicester player."
Leicester will hope to take another step toward their first top flight title when they travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday, while Spurs host Bournemouth the following day.