Leicester boss Dean Smith believes his side have piled the pressure onto Everton after seeing his team set up a dramatic final day of the Premier League season with a battling draw at high-flying Newcastle.
The 2016 champions will head into Sunday’s home clash with West Ham knowing even victory might not prove enough to keep them in the top-flight, but having piled the pressure on rivals Everton and Leeds.
If the Toffees win at home to Bournemouth, both City and Sam Allardyce’s side, who host Tottenham, will be relegated regardless of their results.
But a draw at Goodison Park coupled with a Leicester win would see the Foxes survive by virtue of goal difference and Smith believes they have put the heat on Everton.
“I think we have because if they draw and we win, we stay up. I did say it might be down to goal difference,” Smith said.
“But we’ve got a tough game against West Ham, who have just qualified for a European final and have got a very good manager who’s a friend of mine, David Moyes, who I have got a lot of respect for.
“He’ll make it, certainly, a really tough game for us. We hope now that we can get to the King Power and if fortunes go our way…
“We have taken it to the last game, we’ve made Everton have to win if we win ourselves.”
The need to win – something City have done on only eight occasions to date in the league this season – means there is no margin for error on Sunday with two points currently separating them from the final safe spot in the table.
However, Smith will not adopt a gung-ho approach to the task.
“No, because if you chuck everything, they have got good enough players – they’ve just qualified for a European final – that they could open some doors against us, and we can’t allow that,” Smith added.
“We have to make sure that we play a balanced performance to make sure we don’t give big chances away, but go and create some.”
It was a very different balance on Tyneside, where Smith admitted he had set up simply to avoid defeat by a team chasing and ultimately securing Champions League qualification, although the visitors might have emerged with three priceless points had Nick Pope not made his only save of the game to keep out Timothy Castagne’s stoppage-time volley.
“Have I gambled with Leicester’s future? No. I am a bit of a risk-taker, but that wasn’t a gamble,” Smith said when asked about his approach.
“If I came here and went at Newcastle, we could have been beaten four or five. It wasn’t a gamble.
“We kept a clean sheet, which was what we needed to do. We need to score, which we know we’ve got our problems with.”