After their Community Shield triumph, Leicester City will be eager to start their Premier League campaign on a positive note when they host Wolves on Saturday.
The Premier League returns this weekend, with Leicester City playing hosts to Wolverhampton Wanderers at the King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Both sides have made some exciting additions to their roster over the summer transfer window, which will be called upon to feature in this encounter.
Wolves had a pretty underwhelming campaign last year as they failed to replicate their endeavours in the previous two seasons when they propelled themselves to Europe with consecutive 7th place finishes. They were only able to finish 13th last term. Since then, Nuno Espirito Santo has bidden farewell to Molineux and moved to the shiny lights of London; Wolves will now start the new era of Portuguese project under former Benfica boss Bruno Lage.
As for Leicester City, they again lost out on the UEFA Champions League qualifying spots on the final day for the second year in a row last season and will be hoping to break the final phase syndrome to make a place in the top four this year.
However, despite their failure to clinch a top four finish, instead of frustration, the scenes were more of jubilation and content as the Foxes played superbly throughout the season under the tutelage of Brendan Rodgers and were finally rewarded with the prestigious FA Cup trophy, the first in the club history.
The high-flying Leicester did not stop there as they most recently triumphed over Premier League champions Manchester City to lift only their second Community Shield in history. These are remarkable achievements considering they were playing in League One just over ten years ago.
Wolves hierarchy have backed their new boss in the transfer market making some decent signings such as Francisco Trincao, Yerson Mosquera Jose Sa while full-back Rayan Ait-Nouri’s signing was made permanent after he flourished last season for the Midlands outfit.
As always, Leicester made a shrewd set of talented acquisitions in Boubakary Soumare, Patson Daka and Ryan Bertrand, who may prove to be vital in their quest of a top four finish.
Wolves endured a pretty dismal pre-season campaign, having suffered defeats to Las Palmas, Celta Vigo, and League One side Crewe Alexandra with Raul Jimenez return to action the only positive news. In contrast, Leicester are coming on the back of a 3-2 friendly win over Europa League winners Villareal. To put the cherry on the cake, they wrapped up their pre-season with the Community Shield victory.
Doing it in an intense Premier League game is entirely different to putting impressive performances in friendlies, and both clubs will be looking to kick-start their fresh season on a high with a victory at the King Power Stadium. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
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— Leicester City (@LCFC) August 12, 2021
Last season, Leicester were plagued by injuries to key players, with Caglar Soyuncu, Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison, James Justin, Timothy Castagne and Ricardo Pereira all spending a significant amount of time out of action on the sidelines.
This year it is no different as they have already suffered a major setback with the news coming that Wesley Fofana is set to miss the whole calendar year as he has a fractured fibula due to a horrible tackle from Fer Nino in the Villareal friendly. This has forced Leicester to dip in the market for an apt replacement, and the Foxes have signed Jannik Vestergaard from Southampton.
Apart from Fofana, Leicester are missing James Justin and defensive leader Jonny Evans, while Timothy Castagne was seen wearing a mask as he picked up several facial fractures. He’s also far from being declared fully fit.
Though Brendan Rodgers is very unpredictable with his setup as it mostly depends on the opposition’s structure but being without any recognized wing-backs, he’s surely not going to go with a back-five which means the Leicester boss will probably be playing the 4-2-3-1 formation.
The central defence will comprise a defensive pairing of Daniel Amartey and Soyuncu, while Ricardo Pereira and summer signing Ryan Bertrand will feature in the full-back slots. Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans will form the double pivot.
Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes will make a return on the wings with creative playmaker James Maddison playing just behind the fox in the box Jamie Vardy who will be spearheading the Leicester attack against Wolves.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Pereira, Amartey, Soyuncu, Bertrand; Tielemans, Ndidi; Perez, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy
Wolves are now under a new regime, with Bruno Lage embedding the philosophies of fluidity and expansive play, but it is unlikely that he would tinker with the tried and tested Wolves system of playing with three centre-halves.
Wolves have their own medical issues; they are working hard right now on the fitness of attacking players Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence, with both recovering after respective surgeries, while Wolves have another long-term casualty in Jonny.
Furthermore, pre-season injuries to Willy Boly and new signing Yerson Mosquera have added further defensive worries. As a result, it would be Max Kilman starting alongside captain Conor Coady and Romain Saiss in the traditional back three.
Raul Jimenez found his shooting boots in pre-season, and it looks like new arrival Trincao and Adama Traore would feature on the flanks alongside him. Fabio Silva put some impressive displays in the friendlies, but he will have to suffice with coming off the bench to have an impact on the game.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Jose Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Moutinho, Neves, Ait Nouri; Traore, Raul Jimenez, Trincao
- This will be the ninth meeting between these two sides in the Premier League with head-to-head even at two wins each apart from four draws.
- Leicester City have lost just one of their last 24 home league games against Wolves (W14 D9). That defeat came in the 2006/07 Championship season.
- Since returning to the Premier League in 2018, Wolves have been unable to score a single goal in five of their six meetings with Leicester.
- Leicester have only once won their Premier League opener in the past five seasons, while Wolves are undefeated in their last 8 season openers.
- Leicester have lost three of their last four Premier League games (W1), as many as they had in their previous 13 prior to this (W7 D3). At home, the Foxes have lost their last two league games, conceding four goals each time. They had only conceded 4+ goals in two of their previous 75 league matches at the King Power Stadium beforehand.
Player to Watch
Leicester’s perseverance with Kelechi Iheanacho is finally paying off as the 24-year-old is proving his worth in gold, having rediscovered the form for which Leicester have stumped £25 million fees to Manchester City.
He always had the pace and skill to beat his marker. His hold-up play was not bad either. It was just his final pass and finishing which let him down, but he has since worked on his finishing technique, and it has worked wonders for him.
It is only last season when Iheanacho picked the hot streak in front of goal; he netted 12 goals in just 25 appearances with a shot accuracy of 64%. Now high on confidence, Iheanacho also scored the winning goal in the Community Shield win against Manchester City. So, while he might not start the game, the Nigerian will definitely be influential coming from the bench.
Leicester City 2-1 Wolves
It will be an enticing encounter with talented players on display from both sides. Though Bruno Lage is a bit of a surprise package, we predict Leicester to come out on top comfortably with a 2-1 victory at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester are currently brimming with confidence. With Kelechi Iheanacho, Jamie Vardy and Patson Daka all vying for the same starting spot and creative players in the likes of James Maddison and Harvey Barnes returning to the Playing XI, we can expect Leicester to come out firing on the first day.
Wolves have looked out of ideas and clueless under Bruno Lage so far on the basis of pre-season displays. They have struggled to create much in those games, which is concerning. Vardy will get in behind the Wolves defence to open the scoring early in first half, then Iheanacho will double the lead on the hour-mark after coming as a substitute, then the Foxes will invite pressure from Wolves, who will score through Fabio Silva late in the game to give it a thrilling end.