Once again, I struggle to see why or how Rafa can change things from the side that have done so well in recent wins over Man Utd, Southampton and Huddersfield – especially when Slimani is unable to play:
Given Gayle’s total inability to finish his dinner last weekend, this could’ve been an ideal occasion to see Slimani make his full debut from the start, however the Leicester loanee won’t feature here for obvious reasons. Gayle needs to pull his socks up.
Diame picked up a knock last weekend and was withdrawn, however he’s won his race to be fit, meaning Merino and Hayden will have to wait for their chance once again (although I imagine Diame won’t play the full 90 given his recent injury issue).
The defence picks itself, as does Martin Dubrakva – with the Slovakian looking to pick up his third straight clean sheet tomorrow.
Predicted NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1) – Dubravka– Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy – Gayle
Aside from the obvious duo (Vardy and Mahrez), here’s a few players to watch out for tomorrow’s visitors:
Harry Maguire – He’s surprisingly good on the ball and is more than capable of playing out from the back and starting attacks from deep. He’s also a massive unit and one to really watch from set pieces.
Adrien Silva – The Portuguese international finally joined the Foxes for £22m in January, however he’s barely had a look in ahead of central midfield pair Iborra and Ndidi so far. The latter is suspended for this one, so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on. He has talent and technical ability, but he’s not a like for like replacement for Ndidi – the man who shields their defence superbly.
Marc Alrighton – Like Chilwell (who’ll play behind him at LB), he’ll regularly put good deliveries into the box and works his socks off. An underrated player for the Foxes who seems to always deliver.
Kasper Schmeichel – He’s been a bit dodgy when I’ve watched him recently, yet, in the same breath, he’s the sort of stopper that could pull off a miraculous save to stop an almost certain goal. I hope we see the shaky Schmeichel tomorrow.
Predicted Leicester XI – (4-4-1-1) – Schmeichel– Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell – Mahrez, Iborra, Silva, Albrighton – Okazaki – Vardy.
For an inside look into this weekend’s opponents, take a look at the latest edition of the ‘Opposition Opinion’ . A great insight into this weekend’s opponents.
Newcastle – 12th (35 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 3 / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 1
Leicester – 8th ( 43 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 2 / Drawn: 2 / Lost: 1
Islam Slimani will be unable to play against his parent club due to loan rules, however Rafa has passed Mo Diame fit despite him picking up a knock in the 1-0 win over Huddersfield.
Joselu could return to the squad, however I fully expect Gayle to start up top again.
For Leicester, star midfielder Wilfred Ndidi is facing a ban after a red card in their recent 2-0 win at Brighton, leaving a big hole in their central midfield.
Matty James has been ruled out for the rest of the season and fellow midfielder Daniel Amartey also misses out because of a hamstring injury.
I could worry that we’ll be complacent (with the Huddersfield win putting us on the brink of securing safety), but I actually think we’ll play with a bit of confidence and freedom here.
That being said, Leicester are a very dangerous side and the likes of Vardy and Mahrez will be a real handful – even if Ndidi’s absence could leave a real hole in their midfield.
I fancy a few goals and a scoring draw – Kenedy to smash in from 25 yards and Gayle to find the net finally after several huge misses vs Huddersfield.
Prediction: Leicester 2-2 Newcastle
Howay the lads!