Belfast Telegraph

Mahrez confident relegation will not follow Leicester's title triumph

Leicester's Premier League title triumph seems an age ago but Riyad Mahrez is confident the fairytale will not be tainted by relegation.

Nine months on from being crowned champions of England for the first time in their 133-year history, one of the greatest sporting stories ever told is in danger of having an unwanted chapter added as the ignominy of becoming the first team since Manchester City in 1938 to see their title defence end in relegation begins to loom.

Just one point above the drop zone, Leicester face a crucial match on Sunday when they travel to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea - who like the Foxes have 21 points from their 24 matches.

" It's a big game," said Mahrez. " We have to prepare properly because both the clubs are near the bottom and we need to get something from that."

The 25-year-old thinks a return to basics could hold the key to climbing away from the bottom three and he does not want Leicester's fight to go right down to the wire.

"We are just in a bad moment right now and we just have to come back our way," he said.

"We know we have quality in this team and we know if we do things properly we will stay in the Premier League. We are confident we can do it - very confident.

"We just need to work hard. We need to just focus on the last 14 games and make sure we are safe. We want to be safe before the last five games. We don't want to be in a struggle right at the end. We need to do things properly to make sure we are safe."

If Leicester are to survive, Mahrez must play a pivotal role. The Algeria international was a shining light last season, his performances earning him the player of they year vote from his peers, but he has barely flickered this campaign, with his own form directly reflecting that of the champions.

Last season, he scored 17 Premier League goals from midfield and provided 11 assists. This campaign, he has been nowhere near as effective and has found the net just three times in the league.

Mahrez insists he will rediscover his best form and help Leicester stay up, and said: " I know it's going to come back.

"I just need to keep working and everything will come back normally. The goals will come back. I am not worried about myself.

"I am part of the team and we are confident. If it is difficult for the team then it is difficult for me as well, so we just need to work hard and I think everything is going to come back to normal."

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