Leicester City will be aiming to move to second place in the Premier League table when they lock horns with Aston Villa away from home on Sunday afternoon.

Matchweek 25 of the 2020/21 Premier League is underway and in one of the more enticing fixtures on display this Sunday, Aston Villa will play hosts to Leicester City, with plenty at stake for both teams in the race for the top four.

Aston Villa, after surviving the relegation dogfight last season, are pushing for European spots this term. Dean Smith’s side are eighth in the table, six points off of Chelsea in fourth, with two games in hand. The Villans have been going through a bit of an indifferent patch lately though, failing to win three of their last six games, with their latest encounter ending in a goalless draw against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Leicester City, meanwhile, are third in the standings, level on points with second-placed Manchester United and a win on Sunday would see Brendan Rodgers’ men move up, even though it may be temporary. The Foxes are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, beating champions Liverpool 3-1 win in the league, before playing out a goalless draw against Slavia Praha in the UEFA Europa League.

The reverse fixture played at the King Power Stadium in October last year saw Aston Villa beat Leicester 1-0 courtesy of a stoppage-time winner from Ross Barkley. Ahead of their latest meeting this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Aston Villa

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In what is quite a blow for Aston Villa, the home team will be without the services of right-back Matty Cash after he picked up an injury against Brighton last time out. He joins fellow defender Kortney Hause out on the sidelines while striker Wesley remains unavailable as he continues to recover from a long-term knee injury.

No major changes in shape or personnel is expected from Dean Smith when Leicester come visiting, with Aston Villa expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez who has been top-notch this season.

Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, who has been linked with Liverpool and Tottenham, should start as the two centre-backs while Matt Targett is the first-choice left-back for the Villans. But, with Cash out injured, Ahmed Elmohamady should step in right-back and it will be interesting to see whether he will be able to offer the same sort of presence going forward as the man he replaces.

Douglas Luiz and John McGinn ought to form the midfield double pivot for the Midlands’ outfit. The latter will need to be at the top of his game to snuff out James Maddison’s influence while McGinn will look to alternate between defensive and offensive duties effectively.

Smith has the possibility of utilising January signing Morgan Sanson in a deeper role to add more security against the likes of Maddison and Youri Tielemans in a 4-3-3. Nevertheless, Ross Barkley ought to continue as the No. 10 for Aston Villa, while ex-Chelsea ace Bertrand Traore should get the nod on the right.

Skipper Jack Grealish is a certain starter out on the left flank from where he will drift centrally and look to link up with Barkley and lone front Ollie Watkins and cause mayhem in the final third.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn; Traore, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins

Leicester City

Unlike his counterpart in the Villa dugout, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has several injury problems to deal with ahead of the trip to Birmingham. Ayoze Perez has been sidelined leading up to the game with the ex-Newcastle United man joining Wesley Fofana, Wes Morgan, James Justin and Dennis Praet out on the sidelines.

There is some good news, though, as Timothy Castagne is expected to be fit and available while Ricardo Pereira should also be in contention after missing the midweek game in Europe. The duo ought to take up the full-back slots on the left and right sides, respectively, with their forward forays set to play a key role in the Foxes’ chance-creation.

With no Fofana, Jonny Evans will pair up alongside Caglar Soyuncu at the heart of the Leicester defence shielding Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks. Wilfred Ndidi will provide further protection to the defence from the centre of the park, while his partner, Youri Tielemans, will have the freedom to push forward and join up in attack.

The majority of the creative onus will lie on the shoulders of James Maddison, who has the ability to unlock defences with sleek, threaded passes. Marc Albrighton, with his pinpoint crosses from the right flank, will also be key going forward while Harvey Barnes’ ability to hug the touchline or cut inside could be a major problem for the Villa full-back.

There is no looking past the brilliant Jamie Vardy as the centre-forward for the Foxes as they look to pick up another win and move to second in the Premier League.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Castagne; Ndidi, Tielemans; Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy

Betting Odds

Favourable Bets

  1. Jamie Vardy to score anytime @ 1.90

Key Stats

  • Having beaten Leicester City 1-0 earlier this term, Aston Villa are looking to do a league double on the Foxes for the first time since 2003/04.
  • Leicester City have lost just one of their 12 away games in the Premier League this season. The Foxes are unbeaten in their last seven fixtures on the road (W4 D3).
  • Aston Villa have kept 12 clean sheets in their first 22 Premier League matches this season – the most they have managed at this stage of a league campaign in their history.
  • Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers has won all five of his away Premier League games against Aston Villa as a manager – his best such 100% record versus an opponent in the competition.
  • Aston Villa have won three of their last five home meetings against Leicester City in all competitions (D1 L1). However, they did lose this exact fixture in the league last season 4-1.

Player to Watch

Jamie Vardy

There will be a number of gifted footballers with the ability to make a difference on Sunday afternoon with the likes of Jack Grealish, James Maddison, Ross Barkley, Harvey Barnes all perfectly capable of grabbing the limelight. However, it will the ageless wonder Jamie Vardy who will perhaps hold the key for Leicester in this exciting match-up.

Having recently returned from an injury, Vardy found the back of the net against Liverpool last time out, bagging 12 goals in 20 Premier League outings this season. A lethal finisher, the 34-year-old has been key to Leicester’s push for the top four.

But, on Sunday, he will up against one of the meanest defences in the league and a goalkeeper who has been in top form in Emiliano Martinez. However, it bodes well for the Foxes that Vardy has scored five goals in his last four league appearances against Villa.

Prediction

Aston Villa 1-2 Leicester City

This one promises to be an exciting encounter between two teams that have shown so much promise this season. Aston Villa, though, have seen their form dwindle a bit of late, with just three wins in nine league outings while Leicester have been unstoppable on the road, which should give them an edge heading into Sunday’s game.

The Hard Tackle is predicting Brendan Rodgers & co. to pick up a hard-fought narrow win, preventing the hosts from doing a league double over them.

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