Sport Soccer

Saturday 17 March 2018

Claudio Ranieri refuses to blame Danny Drinkwater after defeat to West Brom

West Brom's Matt Phillips (bottom) celebrates his winner with Salomon Rondon in their 2-1 victory at Leicester
West Brom's Matt Phillips (bottom) celebrates his winner with Salomon Rondon in their 2-1 victory at Leicester

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri refused to blame Danny Drinkwater after the Foxes lost their 20-game unbeaten home run.

The midfielder, who was named in England's squad on Sunday to face Scotland and Spain this month, gifted West Brom a 2-1 victory at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

His miscued backpass sent Matt Phillips clear to score the winner as Albion became the first team to beat Leicester at home in the Premier League since September 2015.

Defeat was the champions' fifth of the season, after they lost just three last term, but Ranieri insisted Drinkwater should not shoulder the blame on his own.

"Danny has said nothing. Every player can make a mistake, what can you say to him. He is one of our best players. No problem he overcomes that, of course," he said.

"I am very sorry we lost our unbeaten record at home. We knew it would be a tough match against West Brom.

"I don't know if they need rest but 80 per cent of my players go to international teams. They don't have rest. They travel and when they come back it is two days before the Watford match. We have to work."

Jamie Vardy, also in Gareth Southgate's latest England squad, was benched before coming on at the break and has now failed to score in his last 13 outings.

Ranieri added: "In this moment with Shinji (Okazaki) we play better. I didn't play (Islam) Slimani in Champions League and I wanted to give a rest to Vards. But it wasn't right, the plan, they didn't do what I asked so in second half I introduced Vardy to attack the defensive line."

James Morrison had given Albion a second-half lead only for Slimani to immediately level before Phillips' winner.

Victory saw Albion move three points clear of the relegation zone, ending a five-match winless streak, and Baggies boss Tony Pulis paid tribute to Leicester's unbeaten run after ending it.

He said: "This football club is fantastic, the way it's run and the success they had last year and this year. It's just a dream, the people are lovely, the staff, everybody. It's a lovely place to come and obviously it's a great place to come because we've won."

Phillips scored his first Albion goal after being dropped for last week's 4-0 defeat to Manchester City and Pulis believes he reacted well as he plots more January additions.

"He needed a rest, because he's been working very hard like the others," he said, after his first victory against any reigning Premier League champions.

"What we need is a little bit more quality, like (Nacer) Chadli. I've spoken to the Chinese owners, and that's what we'll try to do."

Press Association

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