Christian Fuchs on Leicester City’s Premier League title chase: ‘Stay cool, stay humble and just enjoy it’

    They’re consistent presence at the top of the Premier League table. The Foxes were champions just five years ago and now firmly in the mix as the domestic season enters its second half. By rights Leicester City should be gripped by the anxiety that comes with the imminent arrival of spring and the ever-increasing stakes it brings.

    Yet Christian Fuchs could scarcely be more at ease when he arrives from training at the world-class Seagrave campus, the broadest of grins across his face as he reflects on another remarkable victory for the Foxes. They have just defeated Chelsea 2-0 in a performance of composure and quality. The Austrian international had been watching from the sidelines but you sensed he had been kicking every ball along with his team-mates. Whether he plays or not, the emotional energy he exerts watching Leicester in action is such that he is as exhausted either way at training the next day.

    But that statement win at the King Power did not change anything for Brendan Rodgers’ squad, who are more than happy to continue their progress away from the bright glare that often falls on their rivals.

    “Leicester never has pressure,” Fuchs tells CBS Sports HQ. “We are never even mentioned in the media as one of the title contenders. We are not. Honestly, we are enjoying it. Let people talk.

    “We do our work, we try to be as successful as possible. This is just about the mindset, how we approach every game and how we approach the whole season. We are not getting carried away with where we are now, what we’ve achieved so far. It doesn’t count if you don’t give 100 percent in the next game.”

    Victories like last week’s over Chelsea have pockmarked the near two years of Rodgers’ reign in Leicester with Tottenham and Manchester City having both fallen to emphatic defeats at the Foxes’ hands in the first half of this campaign. Of course this squad will be acutely aware that a year ago they were riding similarly highly, second at the start of 2020, only for a stuttering end to the season to see them drop out of the top four entirely.

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    Equally, Fuchs, captain Wes Morgan, Kasper Schmeichel and Jamie Vardy know just what is required to navigate a run-in to a tee having held onto their lead at the top of Premier League in the remarkable 2015-16 season.

    As Fuchs notes, this is not the same club that stunned the footballing world in 2016 though there is the same commitment to living in the moment and making the most of it. “When you enjoy what you do usually you’re capable of performing great games. It doesn’t mean you win them but the chances are growing.”

    The message that the 34-year-old and his fellow veterans of the title challenge instill into the younger members of the Leicester squad is simple: “stay cool, stay humble and just enjoy it”. On and off the pitch it has been apparent for some time that Fuchs’ words are not falling on deaf ears.

    That Fuchs has watched some of Leicester’s recent successes from the substitutes’ bench is in no small part down to the remarkable rise of James Justin, arguably the breakout youngster of the Premier League season and a possible dark horse for England’s European Championship squad. The 22-year-old, signed from Luton Town before the 2019-20 season, embodies the best attributes of Rodgers’ squad. He is versatile, technically-assured, front-footed and, most of all, fearless.

    Fuchs has delighted in his rise. “The way James Justin has improved over the last one-and-a-half years is incredible. I really love to see him excelling, getting better and better. He was already great last year but this season he is really playing some very good games and on a constantly high level, which is rare for a young player. There are always dips in form but the way he performs is great.

    “His confidence, his speed, lately his goal scoring abilities, the goal he scored against Stoke was fantastic, I really enjoyed that. No matter what position he is, even left center back in a three, he’s always trying to push forward and overlap. The position as a left back or right back allows him to get in the box. He had a big chance against Chelsea, he should have put it away, but that just shows the quality that he’s not only a great defender but has massive offensive threat for the opponent.”

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    With Justin making the left-back position his own Fuchs has been able to stretch himself this season, filling in on the left side of a back three in Caglar Soyuncu’s absence to offer a steadying presence alongside teenage centre-back Wesley Fofana.

    The mix of veteran nous and young talent in defence is typical of how Leicester have built a squad across the pitch, from Jonny Evans and Soyuncu at the back to James Maddison and Vardy further forward. They will not get carried away.

    “Obviously everybody is on a high, everybody is enjoying the moment,” says Fuchs. “But we also know what the basis is for success and that’s simply, if I could turn the computer right now you’d see the pitches, hard work on those pitches every day. That’s the basis for playing well and then eventually the success will come. Without that, without doing the running, without working hard every day and putting in a shift every time we’re out there playing it’s not going to happen.

    “We’re halfway through the season. We know there’s still a long way to go. What makes it special here is the humbleness among the group, the players, the staff. Everybody knows this is one game. The game is done. We gave our best. We’re looking forward to the next game. Nothing else matters.”

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