A must win game? It’s a bit too early to say that for me, but there would be a horrible feeling around the city if we’re all walking out of St James’ Park on the back of a fourth straight home defeat come quarter to five.
The big positive to take from the hard fought draw at Palace was how strong we stood at the back. But, news on Friday night confirmed that BOTH Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett will now miss out, so with the unreliable Ciaran Clark and Javier Manquillo likely to take their place, I can’t say I’m too confident of a clean sheet.
If that’s the case, we’re going to need at least two goals at the other end to get that elusive first win of the season. Do I see that happening? Unless Perez and Kenedy can rediscover some form, my answer would be no unfortunately.
Leicester are a good side. They may have lost Mahrez and Kante in recent years, but in Vardy, Maddison, Ndidi, Maguire and Schmeichel, they have a very impressive spine.
That being said, they’ve been shipping goals. They’ve conceded seven goals in their three away games so far this season, shipping four at Bournemouth last time out, so this could give our toothless attack something to feed on.
As ever, here’s the team I’d like to see, followed by the side I expect Rafa to go with:
Muto is yet to start a game in the Premier League as of yet (so I’m not holding my breath for this one), but he’s tended to offer more than Perez has when he’s come on from the bench.
Perez has been weak, cheap in possession and lacking in any sort of conviction, so it seems a risk free move to put in Muto on Ayoze’s current form – however I would be surprised to see Rafa drop a player he so often sticks with for such a big game.
In defence, we’ll see Manquillo in for Dummett unfortunately. Clark is not an option at left-back for me (remember how bad he looked at Forest!) and I don’t think I could trust Kenedy to play here in a four man defence.
At centre-back, Clark looks more than likely to partner Lascelles. Schar is still adapting to English football and putting him up against Vardy’s pace would be a big risk – especially when Clark and Lascelles are used to playing alongside each other.
If Murphy starts over Kenedy I couldn’t have too many qualms, but I see Rafa sticking with the Brazilian. He really needs to pull his socks up, having failed to show anything like the form we saw from him earlier in the year, however he can still be ‘the difference for us IF he turns up – and Rafa may be banking on that.
With Rondon out, Joselu will almost certainly lead the line. With two goals in three games at St James’ so far this season, let’s hope he can grab another here.
Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy – Joselu.
Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in the Leicester side:
James Maddison: I’ve been so impressed by him so far this season. He cost Leicester just over £20m in the summer, signing from Norwich, and is a player destined for a regular spot in the England squad. An attacking midfield with brilliant technique, superb set piece delivery and an eye for goal.
Jamie Vardy: An obvious one, but someone you can’t ignore. He’ll constantly make runs on the shoulder and rarely needs more than one chance to grab a goal. A devastating finisher; especially if we let him get in behind and one on one. Kelechi Iheanacho will also be a real danger man for them IF he starts.
Harry Maguire: As we saw at this summer’s World Cup, he’s an absolute monster in the air, meaning Jamaal Lascelles will need to watch him closely from set pieces. It’ll also be important that we don’t allow him to play out too easily from the back, with him having the ability to step out and start attacks.
Perreira and Chilwell: Leicester’s two full-backs. They love to get forward and will put in some dangerous deliveries if we give them too much freedom.
Predicted Leicester XI – (4-2-3-1) – Schmeichel – Perreira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell – Mendy, Ndidi – Ghezzal, Maddison, Albrighton – Vardy.
We look set to be without at least THREE first team players, with Rondon, Fernandez and Dummett all ruled out – while Yedlin is set to face a late fitness test.
Demarai Gray is out for several weeks after spraining his ankle in Leicester’s Carabao Cup win at Wolves. Wes Morgan is available again after serving a one-match ban.
I had mixed thoughts about this one prior to news of Fernandez and Dummett’s injuries, but I can’t help but worry how we’ll do defensively now both are out – mainly due to my lack of faith in likely replacements Clark and Manquillo.
I now fancy them to score and, unfortunately, I’m not convinced we’ll score more than one ourselves.
If Kenedy and Perez turn up, our defence stands up to the test and Shelvey pulls the strings in midfield then we might just battle our way to a scruffy win, but I fancy another draw here if I’m being honest.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Leicester
Howay the lads!