Consolidation in February gives hope for rewards come May.

February produced stability for both teams with Liverpool consolidating sixth and Leicester seventh place. Recent form for both has dropped but there have been plenty of fixtures and thin squads are starting to tire.

Leicester City dropped points against Coventry City this weekend, a fixture that should have led to three points. With Leeds losing and Forest drawing Leicester could have closed the gap on their play-off rivals.

Eriksson was disappointed but felt his players should not be downhearted and told the BBC: “These are games to win, we should win games like this. There are still many games to play and it’s important not put our heads down and think it’s over. It’s not over.”

The Foxes will welcome seven days rest before the clash with league leaders QPR and follow that up with a Tuesday night fixture entertaining Norwich, who are currently fourth and seven points ahead.

Just two points behind Leicester are Burnley who have two games in hand, so a good points haul this week is vital. Hull and Reading are also able to pounce if more points are dropped in March. Goal difference is key in a tight race and the Foxes are breaking even, the worst in the top half of the table with the majority of teams posting positive double figures.

Liverpool also have a week to prepare for the visit of Manchester United, who lead the Premier League. After losing 3-1 to relegation candidates West Ham, Liverpool will want to gain three points and put a dent in their fierce rival’s bid for a 19th league title, which will take them one past Liverpool’s total.

Dalglish told the post match press conference: “There was nothing West Ham did that surprised us because they are fighting for survival. After they scored they got a lot of belief but we never played as well as we’re capable of playing, we never passed it as well as we can pass it and we never took the chances that came our way.”

He also felt the game on Thursday took it out of his players but added: “It’s not just losing that’s disappointing – it’s the way we played.”

Again the subject of Andy Carroll’s fitness was raised, and again Dalglish gave the same response: “We never pencilled in a date when Andy’s going to play. As soon as he’s okay we’ll get him involved. Whether that’s next week, the week after or after that, we’ll just have to wait and see. There is nothing that has happened since he came in that’s had an adverse effect on his progress.”

The last statement may be directed at the Daily Mirror newspaper who claimed Carroll had put on weight during his lay off and had been placed on a rigorous training schedule to slim him down.

Both teams reinforced their credentials in February without ever breaking in to the places required, as the above graph shows. Liverpool are still in sixth, eight points off Champion’s League qualification, while Leicester are seventh just one place and two points from a play-off place. Getting into those places at the end of the season will be an achievement for both clubs and full credit should go to their managers.

Dalglish has transformed the Liverpool playing style, creating an improved viewing spectacle with a more creative and attacking mindset from the players, and it’s paid dividends. The Kop is more often in full voice and the atmosphere is happier around L4. While this season may not reap rewards of silverware the red half of Merseyside is at least enjoying its football once again.

Eriksson has not only got the Foxes playing better and more successful football, he has used his managerial skills, including resourcing loan talent and working within a budget, to raise Leicester from the ashes of what could have been a relegation disaster by Christmas to play-off hopefuls come February.

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