Leicester not to be underestimated
The Foxes lost their opening four encounters with the ‘Big Six’ this term, but they’ve since upped their performances in the big games and have proven tough to beat.
City and Liverpool (as much as it pains us to admit) are by far the best sides in the division this season and despite three of Leicester’s last four such encounters coming against them, they remained unbeaten over 90 minutes.
City downed them on penalties in the Carabao Cup as they went W2-D2-L0 across these fixtures, but Claude Puel’s men also beat them in the league as well as Chelsea prior to their stalemate at Anfield.
Even more impressively, they went behind in the 14th minute in both tussles with the Citizens, while they trailed after just three against Liverpool, and so there’s no room for complacency should we draw first blood.
Familiar weak link in the defence
Despite having actually conceded less than the five teams directly above them in the table this term, Leicester only have two clean sheets from their last 10 outings, while they’ve shut out ‘Big Six’ teams in just one of 15 visits to the King Power since 2016-17 – on the second week of that season – as they’ve been high-scoring affairs.
They’ve actually shipped an average of over two per game across these, and though Kasper Schmeichel only let one past him against Liverpool, Sadio Mane could well have scored a brace had Harry Maguire not rather clumsily taken him down.
The England defender was a tad fortunate not to receive a straight red as the last man, though centre-back partner Jonny Evans shouldn’t have missed the ball entirely and Maguire was otherwise immense against Jurgen Klopp’s outfit after an underwhelming season to date.
Evans never cut the mustard at Old Trafford and he’s very much the weak link in this defence as the full-backs have become a real source of strength for the Foxes. However, with 35-year-old Wes Morgan susceptible to our forwards’ pace, Claude Puel would be well advised to stick with the Northern Ireland international.
Ben Chilwell must be Luke Shaw’s main rival to start for England at the inaugural UEFA Nations League showpiece this summer and produced a man of the match display versus Liverpool, keeping Mo Salah quiet and creating several chances going forwards.
They included the assist for Maguire’s effort, while he won a game-high seven aerial duels and made as many as 16 clearances. Meanwhile, although Ricardo Pereira took a little while to adapt to the Premier League, he’s now performing amongst the best right-backs in the division.
Player to watch: Jamie Vardy
We pointed out in our blog last week that Chris Wood would represent a real threat in the air and he duly proved us right with a header – though the marking was rather shocking and he should never have been afforded a free effort from the edge of the six yard box.
However, Ashley Barnes also got onto the scoresheet and the manner in which his chance came is of greater concern ahead of a trip to the King Power.
The slipped-in ball along the turf is the kind of pass that Jamie Vardy thrives upon, and the former England international has a great track record when facing ‘Big Six’ sides, netting 20 in 31 starts across all competitions since 2016/17.
*all odds are subject to change