Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Swansea condemned Leicester to a fifth consecutive league loss and left Claudio Ranieri’s side just one point and one place above the drop zone, and still without a top-flight goal in 2017. Last season’s fairytale is but a memory and many of the players who starred in their title-winning success have come under fire for their underwhelming performances this campaign.
However, Drinkwater has confidence in the players, as Leicester seek to avoid becoming the first defending champions to be relegated since Manchester City in 1938.
“It’s another defeat that we’re not happy with, so we’ve just got to keep pulling in the same direction and hope it’ll turn,” the England international told LCFC TV. “We’re giving ourselves a harder challenge by going two goals down. We went in at half-time and we knew we could make something happen. We didn’t, but if there’s a group of players that can turn things around, it’s us. We need to force our luck rather than wait for it. We’ve waited too long for it now, so we need to push ourselves and make sure we do all we can to get the three points next time around.
“There’s no way that it’s over and we all know that in there [the dressing room]. Come the end of the season, we’ll turn it around I’m sure.”
One shining light this season for Leicester — who managed to keep most of their title-winning squad intact last summer, with N’Golo Kante’s departure to Chelsea the most notable loss — has been their Champions League exploits. They finished top of Group G in their maiden campaign after winning four of their six games and will next face Sevilla in the last 16. The first leg of that tie takes place on February 22 in Spain, but firstly Leicester’s attention will turn to Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round trip to Millwall.
Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola also thinks Ranieri can win the battle. The Italian, who played for Ranieri at Napoli and Chelsea, believes his countryman deserves time at the King Power Stadium.
“I know he is a very capable coach, a very good person and he will produce and give the best. I’m sure they will [stay up]. The players will have to step up a bit, but you have to be confident in a coach who did what he did last year,” said Zola.
“I don’t think Leicester are doing anything differently from what they did last year but this time it seems to me the chemicals are different. You have to keep working and it will come back. I have been through situations like this in my career. You keep doing the right things and it will come back to you. That’s the magic of football. It appears and disappears very quickly.
“I haven’t spoken to him — sometimes it’s better to keep quiet — but I wish him all the best.”