Football

Foxes lost fear factor

Everton veteran Barry says Leicester are struggling because they are low on confidence

Everton midfielder Gareth Barry believes Leicester are a pale shadow of what they were last season.

The 35-year-old insisted that the Toffees were confident of victory even before their 2-0 win at the home of the defending champions on Boxing Day.

Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku scored to earn Everton their first away victory in the Premier League for three months.

Leicester went over a year without losing a home league game, but have now lost two of their last four at the King Power Stadium and half of their 18 league games this season.

They won a shock title by 10 points last term, but are now just three points above the relegation zone and Barry can tell the difference after Everton secured their first win in Leicester for 19 years.

"They're not the team they were this time last year," said the former England international.

"Football is about confidence, it was always going to be tough for them to repeat what they achieved last year.

ONCE IN A LIFETIME

"It was once in a lifetime what they achieved.

"They have bounced back in the Champions League, but their league form is just not where it was last year - but you can't forget what they did.

"We knew if we were on our game and defended well, we could get the three points.

"Everyone in football would know it's a different place to last year, you can tell from the fans, they were pretty quiet.

Everyone in football would know it’s a different place to last year. Everton veteran Gareth Barry on defending champions Leicester

Leicester winger Marc Albrighton conceded that Barry was right and stressed the Foxes must rediscover their home form, having also not won away in the league this season.

He said: "We have not had the best of results in recent weeks, so I am sure they are coming with more confidence than last year.

"That is a given but, with the way we play, we need to get back to it and get back to what we do best, working hard and getting into peoples' faces, fighting for the cause."

Defeat left Leicester in 16th and battling against the drop but Albrighton dismissed any talk about relegation.

"We as players have to focus on going forward. If people are talking on the outside about relegation battles, that is up to them," he added.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported yesterday that Leicester have agreed a deal to sign Wilfred Ndidi from Genk in a deal worth £15 million (S$26.7m) plus £3m in potential add-ons.

The midfielder had the first part of his medical earlier this month and is looking to conclude the final part of the tests to join on Jan 1.

Leicester have applied for a work permit for the 20-year-old Nigerian and will be able to announce the deal once that has come through.

NEW SIGNING

The Premier League champions have beaten off interest from several other top European clubs to sign the Nigeria international.

Ranieri sees him as the perfect replacement for N'Golo Kante, who joined Chelsea in the summer.

The Foxes have struggled without the France international and Ranieri hopes Ndidi will adapt to the Premier League quickly as the club aim to move away from the relegation zone.

Born in Lagos, Ndidi was discovered by Manchester United's Belgium scout Roland Janssen at a youth tournament in 2013.

He joined Genk in 2015 and has made 62 league appearances for the Belgian club and scored four goals. - WIRE SERVICES

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