Preview: Leicester City vs. Stoke City
After the International Break, we are back in action against current Premier League Champions, Leicester City, at the King Power Stadium.
The previous fixture was on the 17th December 2016, and ended 2-2. A Bojan penalty and an Allen tap in put the Potters ahead. But Vardy’s earlier red card did not prevent the visitors from mounting a comeback and salvaging a point. Some argue that the dip in form during this game set the pre-tense for the next two games, which were defeats two Chelsea and Liverpool, with Stoke conceding eight goals during those two games.
Since that game, Leicester has go through a difficult period, on and off the pitch. Only picking up one win the following eight games. Then a decision that shocked the footballing world. Claudio was sacked as manager. Pick your side, do whatever. But since the change in management, the Foxes have pulled them out of the relegation zone by starting an unbeaten run under the leadership of Craig Shakespeare.
It’s never been a more testing time to play at the King Power, a revitalised, and hungry side will be welcoming us and a win will be hard to achieve. They are performing well in the Champions League too, with a win over Sevilla putting them into the quarter-finals. Vardy looks back on form too, after scoring for England against Lithuania, with his first shot on goal.
Stoke on the other had are entering this match off the back of a 2-1 defeat against the Champions-elect, and will be looking to right some wrongs. Overall a decent performance but a mistake right at the end of the 90 mins from Erik Pieters handed all three points to Chelsea. During the International Break, a few Stoke players did turn out for their national squads. Glen Whelan and Joe Allen had an altercation in the Ireland v Wales game, following an elbow from the Irishman. Marko scored a poacher’s goal from a corner, blocking two defenders to score behind him, to put Austria ahead against Finland.
On the road this season, Stoke have managed to pick up an average of 0.93 points. Not bad. On the other hand, Leicester City have only managed an average of 1.71 points at home. The Potters scored in 57% of the away games played in the league so far this season. Leicester have failed to score at home in 50% of their games. But their form has changed and doesn’t look to stop for us this week.
Sobhi’s form has inspired Stoke and Potters’ fans over the past few weeks, with his confidence and of course, tracking back. It will be interesting to see what players Mark Hughes will start the match with, now his stars are fit. Secondly, what formation? The draw at the Etihad and strong defensive display against Chelsea was only possible due to Hughes’ switch to a 4-4-2. Will he do the same against in-form Leicester?
Whatever the line-up, this weekend will be a tough contest. With points needed for Stoke to catch-up with Pulis, and to pass the comfort of ninth, these same points are also ever so important for Leicester as they look to prevent themselves becoming the first Champions to be relegated the season after clinching the title since Manchester City in 1936/37.
Written by Benito Fisher
Trackback from your site.