Thursday 21 September 2017

Mahrez ready for the fight as Foxes face crucial test

Mahrez is convinced that Leicester can prevent the nightmare scenario of going from champions to the Championship in 12 months. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Boyers
Mahrez is convinced that Leicester can prevent the nightmare scenario of going from champions to the Championship in 12 months. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Boyers

John Percy

Riyad Mahrez has broken his silence on a season of frustration by defiantly insisting that Leicester will avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Mahrez, the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year, is convinced that Leicester can prevent the nightmare scenario of going from champions to the Championship in 12 months.

The Algerian winger has epitomised Leicester's struggles during their feeble title defence, failing to hit the lofty heights of last season, and is still waiting to score his first league goal from open play.

He finished seventh in the Ballon d'Or after contributing 17 goals and 11 assists in the club's historic title-winning season, but the weight of expectation has hung heavily on his shoulders.

Bad moment

"I'm not surprised," he said. "I knew it would be difficult. We are in a bad moment right now but we know we have quality in this team and, if we keep working, we'll stay in the Premier League."

"Leicester could be in the bottom three by the time they kick off against Swansea tomorrow afternoon after four league defeats in a row.

Mahrez's own form has become such a concern that the 25-year-old held talks with manager Claudio Ranieri last week.

His problems are similar to those of Chelsea's Eden Hazard, who endured a difficult 2015-16 season after being named as the PFA Player of the Year.

Mahrez is double-marked in most games and the supply line to striker Jamie Vardy, which proved so crucial last season, has been cut off.

"I'm part of the team and, if it's difficult for the team then it's difficult for me as well," he said.

"So we just need to work hard and I think everything is going to come back to normal. I'm not worried about myself. The goals will come back."

Telegraph.co.uk

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