LEICESTER • Claudio Ranieri has told Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez he needs to provide more graft and guile as Leicester try to pull away from a relegation dog-fight.
Ranieri's struggling champions slumped to a 2-0 defeat by Everton on Monday that kept them on 17 points, just three above the Premier League's drop zone.
And although the Leicester manager was without suspended striker Jamie Vardy, Mahrez, last season's Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year, did not even make the starting line-up.
It was a far cry from last term when everything Mahrez touched turned to gold during the Foxes' title triumph. Ranieri explained the winger's omission by demanding he give more for the cause.
"Because he's not in good form now and I wanted to stimulate him," the Italian said when asked why the Algerian was left out. "I didn't see him do well during the training sessions and he must give more for the team. I want more."
In contrast, Everton boss Ronald Koeman was full of Christmas cheer as he hailed the defensive spirit of his team in their first away win since September.
"The team organisation defensively was outstanding," the Dutchman said. "Maybe they had one chance with a free header but it was not really a big chance.
"It was important to have a clean sheet for confidence. We showed the aggression in the performance that we want."
As for the direct nature of the goals, Koeman explained it had been practised during training.
"We like to play from the back, but if the opponent is pressing, then we don't take risks," he said.