Home Premier League Arsenal Ranieri: Mahrez can handle Vardy’s absence

Ranieri: Mahrez can handle Vardy’s absence

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Leicester boss backs Mahrez to fill in for Vardy

Riyad Mahrez will make up for the absence of Leicester City top scorer Jamie Vardy, according to manager Claudio Ranieri.

The Foxes’ top scorer is suspended for Sunday’s tie against Swansea City, after picking up two yellow cards against West Ham last weekend – in their 2-2 draw – and faces an extra game suspension, after pleading guilty to improper conduct.

However, Ranieri is not concerned about his absence, after their draw cut their lead over Tottenham, at the top of the table, to five points, as he expects Mahrez to continue the fine form that has put him in contention for the PFA Player of the Year award.

The Algeria international will face the Swans, before being in line to pick up the annual award, while up against Spurs’ Harry Kane and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil.

“I am very happy with him [Mahrez],” said Ranieri. “If you see what Riyad does, it is fantastic. Every time he touches the ball it is a great pass.

“He has good form but now everybody knows him and they want to stop him. It is harder for him now but he is a very clever player.

“Only Riyad has the key to open the defensive line. It is fantastic. Maybe he doesn’t shoot fantastic now, but when he passes look what happens.”

Back up to speed

The winger will be hoping to get back to the scintillating form that he has been showing this season, after just two goals and one assist in his last nine matches.

But there is reason for Leicester to be optimistic, after the 25-year-old bagged a hat-trick in the reverse fixture back in December.  And it is that kind of form that is attracting the attention of Spanish giants Barcelona.

Sixteen goals and 11 assists from the Algerian is what has helped Leicester to the top of the table in the first place, taking the spotlight off Vardy’s absence – and he, too, will be pleased he has someone to cover him at the most crucial stage of the season.

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