An emotional King Power Stadium will bear witness to Leicester City’s first home game since Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s tragic death as they welcome Burnley
Gameweek 12 of the 2018-19 Premier League season will have some intriguing matches on show. One such game will be played on Saturday between Leicester City and Burnley at the King Power Stadium, which is set to be a cauldron of emotions, as it hosts its first match since Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha passed away in tragic circumstances.
Leicester, who will be donning a special strip to honour the memory of their late owner, have shown some improvements in recent weeks, having overturned a mini losing streak with two unbeaten results. An emotionally charged evening could spur them on to extend the run further by producing a repeat act of last weekend’s 1-0 win over Cardiff City.
Burnley, on the other hand, are back in a rut, having failed to win any of their last four Premier League games, a run that has dropped them to 15th on the table. What is especially concerning is their frailties at the back, with the Clarets conceding an astounding 13 goals in their last three top-flight outings.
The corresponding fixture last season had ended in a 1-0 win for Leicester City, with Demarai Gray scoring the only goal. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Claude Puel has a couple of major injury concerns hampering his preparations for the visit of Burnley. On Saturday, the Leicester City boss will be without key duo Harry Maguire and James Maddison, who are both recovering from their respective knee injuries.
While Maguire has been the standout defender for the Foxes, Maddison has been the lynchpin in Puel’s side. Other than Maguire and Maddison, Daniel Amartey (ankle) and Matty James (Achilles) are long-term absentees for Leicester, and will not play another game in 2018 due to their respective issues.
Meanwhile, Puel has expressed concern over his squad’s preparedness after visiting Thailand to attend Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s funeral earlier this week, although he also praised the maturity levels that the players have shown. Coming back to team selection, the major decisions that the Leicester boss will grapple with is the replacements for Maguire and Maddison.
Jonnny Evans could take Maguire’s place, with Puel possibly opting for the experienced pairing of Wes Morgan and Evans instead of throwing Caglar Soyuncu into the deep end. Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell will likely be the full-back pairing, who will look to bombard up and down the flanks.
In midfield, Nampalys Mendy seems to have nailed down a spot alongside Wilfred Ndidi, with the duo combining for a solid pairing in the middle of the park. Demarai Gray and Marc Albrighton should be the two wingers. But, Maddison’s absence could prompt a change in formation, with Kelechi Iheanacho starting alongside Jamie Vardy the strike partnership.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Evans, Chilwell; Gray, Ndidi, Mendy, Albrighton; Iheanacho, Vardy
Sean Dyche has a number of pressing issues affecting his squad ahead of the trip to Leicester. The Burnley boss could be without as many as four first-team players on Saturday, and he is sweating over the availability of James Tarkowski in particular.
The English international is dealing with an ongoing hernia problem and will face a late fitness test to determine whether he can make the starting lineup at the King Power Stadium. Ben Gibson is also on the sidelines, leaving Kevin Long and Ben Mee are the only two fit centre-backs at Dyche’s disposal.
With defence turning into the Achilles heel for Burnley, having a fully fit backline available could help Dyche immensely. As far as Saturday is concerned, Long and Mee should line up at the heart of the Leicester defence, with Charlie Taylor and Matthew Taylor being the full-backs.
Meanwhile, Stephen Ward (knee) and Nick Pope (shoulder) are the other two absentees, although Jack Cork and Phil Bardsley are fit and available. The return of Cork will be pleasing for Dyche, with the 29-year-old slotting straight back into the starting lineup, with Ashley Westwood making way.
Steven Defour should give Cork company in the middle of the park and the Belgian, alongside the wingers, Robbie Brady and Johann Berg Gudmundsson will pose a huge threat with their prowess on the dead ball. Upfront, Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood will likely be the strike partnership, with the latter being a constant threat in aerial situations.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Hart; Lowton, Long, Mee, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Cork, Defour, Brady; Wood, Barnes
- Leicester City are unbeaten in seven home league matches against Burnley (W4 D3) since losing 0-1 in November 2007 in the Championship.
- Leicester are the only side to have scored in all 11 of their Premier League games so far this season. It’s only the second time the Foxes have managed to score in each of their opening 11 games to a Premier League season, after 2015-16 when they ended as champions.
- have suffered three straight league defeats, conceding four goals or more in each of them. The last team to let in as many goals in four consecutive top-flight games was Arsenal in December 1959.
- Leicester have conceded the first goal in each of their last four Premier League home games (W1 D1 L2).
- Defeat on Saturday would equal Burnley’s club record of eight defeats after 12 matches of a top-flight season, set in 1888-89 and matched in 1889-90 and 1970-71.
Player to Watch
After a promising start to the season, an ankle injury stifled Demarai Gray’s progress. But, he announced his return in fantastic fashion, scoring the emotional goal against Cardiff City last weekend. With Leicester returning home for another poignant game, and with James Maddison missing, Gray’s output will be crucial for the hosts.
The young Englishman’s pace and link-up abilities in the final third could help fill the void of Maddison, while his ability to trouble the goalkeeper from distance will also come in handy. Gray’s celebration last weekend showed just how affected he was by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s death, and he could be driven enough to make the difference once again.
Leicester City 2-1 Burnley
King Power Stadium is set to be a raucous ground on Saturday, with emotions running high in the Leicester City camp. While the Foxes are unlikely to be at their best, they will be motivated enough to rack up all three points for their late owner, in a match that will be a tribute of sorts for Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Leicester are entertaining a Burnley side that seems to have lost its way this season and will thus, fancy their chances of building a winning momentum on Saturday. The Clarets though, should have their moments as well, although the atmosphere at King Power Stadium will eventually spur Claude Puel & co. to get over the line.
The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Leicester City in a fitting tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.