Leicester City’s frustrated players have pointed to a lack of fight undermining their defence of the Premier League title as they struggle to balance the demands of domestic and European commitments.
Claudio Ranieri’s ailing side were dismissed emphatically by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, a defeat which ensured they became the first team to lose the first four away games of their league defence since Blackburn Rovers 21 years ago. Spluttering form has left the champions with eight points from as many games, with their experienced players exasperated by the lack of spirit demonstrated to date this term.
“It is not really acceptable to keep losing in this manner,” Marc Albrighton said. “I am not sure what it is. We have had a chat in the dressing room about it. Obviously, we need to be stronger, to be harder to play against, to be harder to beat, harder to score against.
“Teams are going to try and stop us in different ways because last year we had a lot of joy doing what we did, but as far as we are concerned it is not the way we are playing. It is about fight. We need to fight more. We have lost the fight from last year, and we need to get it back quickly.”
Those sentiments were echoed by the midfielder Danny Drinkwater, who has seen a number of summer additions made to the tightly knit squad. “There is something missing at the minute and, if it is that fight, we need to get it back pretty damn quickly,” he said. “We need to do a lot better than this. As a group of lads we need to figure out what is happening and start putting it right rather than talking about it.”
Leicester have not endured the same issues in Europe and face FC Copenhagen in the Champions League on Tuesday with the Danes their nearest opponents in Group G. Stale Solbakken’s side are unbeaten in all competitions this season and will pose a challenge to the Premier League team, with Ranieri seeking evidence his squad can rekindle the spirit of last season.
“Last year we were out of this world, and now we’ve come back into this world and we have to react,” the Italian said. “Last season we were very connected with each other, the squad, and this season not so well. This is the problem. The senior players, all the players, have to react and bring the new players in. We have to stay together. But it’s frustrating. Everything. The body language is not good [on the pitch]. Last season I never saw this, so we have to react. I want positive men”.
But it’s normal the atmosphere is different in the Champions League. That is normal the first time a team plays in that competition. The Champions League is not winnable for us. What happened with us last season was something ‘not possible’. It was crazy. Now we are the normal Leicester, and we have to fight again.”
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