Leicester --- Chelsea: Match Report

13 December 2015 02:31

Riyad Mahrez says the pressure is off Leicester

Riyad Mahrez has moved to ease the pressure on Leicester ahead of their showdown with Chelsea.

The 11-goal winger reckons the Foxes can play with freedom against the stuttering champions on Monday.

Mahrez scored a hat-trick in the Foxes' 3-0 win at Swansea last time out, but they were knocked off top spot by Manchester City's late 2-1 win over the Swans on Saturday.

Victory over Chelsea at the King Power Stadium will see them return to the summit, but Mahrez dismissed any suggestions Claudio Ranieri's side are feeling the heat.

He said: "We don't have any pressure. No-one said at the beginning of the season Leicester would be first in December. We're training, laughing and joking and when the games come we work hard for each other.

"It doesn't matter for us, it's just a team. We focus on our team and Chelsea are a big club, but we'll play like we always do.

"Last year was the first for a lot of players in the Premier League. We needed some games to get experience. I think the last year has helped a lot of players, like me, and now we are ready for every game."

Jamie Vardy's record scoring run ended at 11 games when he failed to net against the Swans, although he set up Mahrez for his hat-trick goal, and the Algeria international is enjoying playing with the England star.

He added to the club's official site: "I've given him a lot of assists as well. We play for the team. We want to play for each other, work hard for each other. We are very good at the moment and we have to carry on. We will see what happens."

Boss Jose Mourinho has attributed Chelsea's re-found steel to a collective willingness to defend.

The previously robust Premier League holders have been remarkably meek in defence this season, contributing to their miserable campaign so far.

But four clean sheets in five games - against Norwich, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Tottenham and Porto - has revived Mourinho's confidence, with the Bournemouth loss last weekend considered a blip.

Mourinho said: "The tactical adjustments are minimal compared with the global attitude.

"I always say the same: you defend with 11 players, you have more chances to defend well.

"In this moment our team is working well and hard defensively, the attacking players are doing their job.

"When I say everybody has to defend, I'm not saying my striker has to defend a cross in the face of my goal.

"I expect my striker to put pressure on the players that are trying to make the build up.

"Everyone has a job to do and when everybody does their job, it's easier."

Mourinho says it is not down to specific personnel, as individuals in the starting line-up have changed in recent weeks.

"You cannot go to the faces, because the faces change and the performances are still there," Mourinho added.

"We changed the goalkeeper (to Thibaut Courtois), but (Asmir) Begovic also had a clean sheet against Tottenham.

"You change (Cesc) Fabregas for Ramires, but with Fabregas we also had a clean sheet.

"You change (Gary) Cahill with John (Terry). With Cahill we also had clean sheets.

"So it's not about the faces. It's about the global attitude.

"Small tactical adjustments, but the attitude I think is the most important thing."

Source: PA