Claudio Ranieri demands improvement from misfiring Leicester star Riyad Mahrez
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has told Riyad Mahrez he must improve after dropping the reigning PFA Player of the Year before the Foxes lost to Everton.
The winger was axed for the first time since October 2015 as the champions slipped to a 2-0 home defeat on Boxing Day.
Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku scored to earn the Toffees victory at the King Power Stadium, leaving the champions just three points above the Premier League relegation zone.
Their title defence is in tatters and the Foxes face a battle against the drop with Ranieri's side having lost half their 18 games - and winning just four times - this season.
Mahrez, who scored 17 goals to help Leicester win a shock title last term, came on in the second half but could not spark a revival and Ranieri has demanded more before he can return to the side.
"He's not in good form now and I wanted to stimulate him," he said.
"I didn't see him do well during the training sessions and he must give more for the team. I want more.
"Demarai (Gray, Mahrez's replacement) was good. His performance was good. I changed him to give more balance when I put Mahrez inside and to maintain the 4-4-2 with (Marc) Albrighton, who can help the two midfielders."
Leicester were without the suspended Jamie Vardy and the club provided around 30,000 masks of his face for fans before the game.
The Foxes offered no comment but it was widely interpreted as a response to the Football Association's decision not to overturn his red card in last week's 2-2 draw at Stoke.
The club failed in an appeal and are without the striker for their next two games against West Ham and Middlesbrough but Ranieri refused to say whether the masks were a protest.
"I'm sorry, I didn't see when I came out. I don't know, it's not my matter, sorry. I didn't see. I'm sorry," he said.
"It's difficult to say how much we missed Vardy. I didn't see the masks. We are very sad, we wanted to give some good news to our fans after a good result in Stoke.
"The reaction is not good. We wanted to win, to make a point and to make a very good present to our fans for Boxing Day."
Victory lifted Everton to seventh in the Premier League and was the Toffees' first away victory since September.
Manager Ronald Koeman was pleased with his side's aggression after Mirallas and Lukaku scored breakaway goals in the second half.
"From the Arsenal game the team is different, it is more aggressive and that is good. That is what we need to win more games," he said.
"It is always important to win. Everybody knows our away performances in the last two or three months were not how they can be. Today we showed a good team performance.
"The team organisation defensively was outstanding, maybe they had one chance with a free header but it was not really a big chance."