Leicester City will head to Elland Road on Sunday afternoon as the Foxes look to get their season back on track after a mixed start to the season.
Their hosts Leeds United are having a nightmarish season of their own in the Premier League as Marcelo Bielsa’s side are barely above the relegation zone.
Both managers are feeling the heat after an impressive performance last season, and Sunday’s battle will set the tone for the upcoming midfield battles that will emerge in the Premier League.
Here’s our preview of Sunday’s Premier League fixture between Leicester City and Leeds United:
After impressing the fans once again last season by winning the FA Cup, Leicester City are having a mixed season in the Premier League. Once considered the club best placed to break into the dominance of the ‘big six’ clubs in the league, Leicester are now fighting for a place in the top half of the table, with the likes of Wolverhampton Wolves and West Ham United forging ahead of the original breakthrough club.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have won just four of their ten games so far in the league, but it is their four losses early on in the season that are likely to hurt their Champions League hopes the most. The Foxes have since improved their form, losing just one of their last five games.
An impressive 4-2 win over Manchester United at home was their best performance of the season so far, but the 2-0 defeat to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal last week has once again brought Brendan Rodgers’ strategies into question.
The Foxes followed it up with a 1-1 draw against Spartak Moscow in the Europa League, courtesy of Daniel Amartey’s second-half goal. The Foxes’ chances of qualifying to the knockout stages in the Europa League now hang by a thread as Jamie Vardy missed a crucial penalty against Spartak Moscow.
Leicester City have been hit with a sickness problem as James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, and Jannik Vestergaard missed the mid-week fixture.
The good news for Leicester is the return of Wilfred Ndidi from injury and the Nigerian is expected to start the game against Leeds. Kelechi Iheanacho has played the entire 90 minutes in the Europa League game as the club desperately searched for a goal, and it remains to be seen if he will start on Sunday.
Ricardo Pereira, Marc Albrighton, and Wesley Fofana are already out due to injuries. Brendan Rodgers is likely to continue with the 3-5-2 formation, giving Patson Daka and Iheanacho a chance to score goals against the weak defences of Leeds.
Nothing seems to go in favour of Marcelo Bielsa week after week in the Premier League. The Whites have caught the Premier League’s attention last season after stunning teams with their Bielsa Ball strategy last season, but it looks like managers have learnt how to tackle the aggressive Leeds tactics.
Injuries among the squad have added to the mixed form of the players to produce a disastrous spell of results that have taken Leeds to as low as 18th in the league. The Whites have suffered humiliating defeats to minnows Watford and Southampton and could only manage to hold Wolves and Newcastle to a draw.
A 2-1 win against Norwich City last season has given them crucial three points that took them out of the relegation zone for now. With only four points separating them from 10th-placed Everton, it is not all gloom and doom at Elland Road as a few surprise wins followed by decent performances against weaker sides can once again turn around the season for Leeds.
The main issue for the Whites has been the absence of their talisman and lead striker Patrick Bamford. He has missed seven out of 10 games played by the Whites this season due to injury and the lack of goals is deeply hurting Bielsa’s side who rely on aggressive tactics.
Jamie Shackleton has picked up an injury mid-game against Norwich City and his availability for Sunday’s game remains in doubt. Luke Ayling and Robin Koch underwent surgeries last month, and they will take a while to return to their full potential.
Rodrigo has picked up four yellow cards in the season already and another one could force him out of a game, compounding Bielsa’s problems.
HEAD TO HEAD
Leeds and Leicester have a long and storied rivalry in the second-rung of English football, with 125 encounters between both clubs across all competitions.
With Leicester City’s promotion to the Premier League, there have been few encounters between both sides in recent years.
The fixtures last season between newly-promoted Leeds and an established Leicester saw nine goals with both teams failing to defend their home turfs.
Leicester thrashed the Whites at Elland Road 4-1 before Marcelo Bielsa returned the favour at King Power Stadium with a 3-1 win. Stuart Dallas, Patrick Bamford, and Jack Harrison starred with goals for Leeds in the game, while Harvey Barnes scored for Leicester in both games.
WHAT TO EXPECT
While both sides enter the game plagued with troubles, Leicester City have an undeniable advantage with respect to the strength of their squad and their form. There are just too many crucial injuries in the Leeds squad for Marcelo Bielsa to tackle with, and an already weak defensive unit is unable to cope with the pressure being piled on them.
But Leeds are a side that can never be taken for granted. And with club management fully backing Marcelo Bielsa, the veteran manager can turn around the team’s fortunes more quickly than anyone might expect.
We expect a close encounter with a slight edge for Leicester City to win the game.
Leicester City Predicted XI: Kasper Schmeichel, Caglar Soyuncu, Jonny Evans, Daniel Amartey, Timothy Castagne, Boubakary Soumare, Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Luke Thomas, Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho
Leeds United Predicted XI: Illan Meslier, Stuart Dallas, Pascal Strujik, Diego Llorente, Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips, Jamie Shackleton, Daniel James, Raphinha, Jack Harrison, Rodrigo.
When: Sunday, 7th November, 7:30 PM IST
Where: Elland Road, Leicester
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures will be featured on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be telecasted live on Star Sports and Star Sports Select Channels.