Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Claudio Ranieri happy to put Riyad Mahrez on the spot again

Riyad Mahrez, pictured, had his penalty saved by Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc on Saturday
Riyad Mahrez, pictured, had his penalty saved by Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc on Saturday

Riyad Mahrez will remain on penalty duty for Leicester despite his vital miss against Bournemouth.

The Algerian failed from the spot for the first time this season on Saturday as Artur Boruc saved his second-half effort, meaning Leicester had to settle for a goalless home draw which saw them slip two points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Mahrez has been the Foxes' main man on penalties, taking every kick when he has been on the field except against Watford in November, when he relinquished the responsibility to Jamie Vardy to help his team-mate chase the record he now holds of scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League matches.

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri was disappointed not beat 10-man Bournemouth, who had captain Simon Francis sent off for the foul on Vardy which led to Mahrez's penalty miss, but the Italian sees no reason to change what has so far this season worked well for his team.

Asked if Mahrez will take the next penalty, Ranieri responded: "Yes, it's okay for me.

"I am calm. They speak every time, Jamie and him, who wants to shoot the penalty. That is fine.

"I say nothing (to Mahrez), I say continue because you will get another chance, you will create another chance. Only the man who works can make mistakes, it can happen. In the dressing room I said 'don't worry'."

The stalemate against Bournemouth extended Leicester's run without a win to three games but they will now get a rest from the travails of the Premier League, with next weekend being the third round of the FA Cup.

And Ranieri has hinted that the likes of Mahrez and Vardy will now get a rest.

"I said in a press conference before that when it is the right moment I will rest them. Yes, maybe now in the next match against Tottenham I will change some players, because every time I always say I have a very good squad," said Ranieri, whose side play Spurs at White Hart Lane next Sunday.

"When I speak about the squad I mean all the players and now the others deserve to play."

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe says he is unlikely to appeal against the controversial red card for Francis - because he will only miss an FA Cup tie.

The defender's 57th-minute dismissal looked a harsh decision by referee Andre Marriner, with television replays showing Francis got a touch on the ball when sliding to challenge Vardy.

Howe believes it was the wrong call and sought out Marriner after the match.

"There wasn't any aggression. I was asking him about suspensions and potential ways we could minimise any bans," said Howe, whose team travel to Birmingham in the cup.

"I do believe we would appeal it if he was due a three-game ban. But I am told it is just one game so with the FA Cup coming up, it is not too bad for us.

"For me it wasn't a penalty. Simon has come from the side and got a clear touch on the ball. It is not a penalty or a free-kick."

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