Leicester City will look to get back on track in the Premier League when they host Watford at the King Power Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Leicester were considered as a contender for a top-four spot in the Premier League again this campaign, and that might still be possible, but there is no denying that the Foxes have struggled to put together a string of performances in a consistent manner this season. A record of four wins, three draws, and five defeats from 12 matches has bagged them 15 points, which is only good enough for 13th place in the table heading into this game.

The reigning FA Cup winners have not won a league game since beating Brentford in October, earning just a point in their last three games against Arsenal, Leeds United, and Chelsea. However, Brendan Rodgers’ side did earn vital three points in the Europa League on Thursday night, defeating Legia Warsaw 3-1 to move to the top of Group C.

Watford, meanwhile, have looked a rejuvenated force under Claudio Ranieri, picking up incredible victories against Everton and Manchester United by three-goal margins, but they currently sit in 16th place in the league table with 13 points. They will head into the fixture following a brilliant 4-1 thrashing of Man United and will look for a similar result in this game.

Leicester City comfortably won the last fixture 2-0 at home against Watford back in December 2019, with Jamie Vardy and James Maddison getting on the scoresheet. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides at King Power Stadium, The Hard Tackle takes a closer at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Leicester City

Leicester will be without the services of Wesley Fofana, Youri Tielemans, Ricardo Pereira, and James Justin this weekend through respective injuries, but Jonny Evans is expected to feature after he pulled out late from the starting lineup in the midweek due to a thigh issue.

Foxes’ boss Brendan Rodgers named a strong lineup for the midweek game, making three changes from the team that lost 3-0 to Chelsea the previous weekend while reverting to a back four. He could set up his side in the similar 4-3-3 system he deployed in the midweek, but a few personnel changes are expected.

Kasper Schmeichel is an undisputed starter between the sticks; the Danish shot-stopper has made the most saves in the division as he continues to bail the Foxes out from tricky situations in games. Guarding him in central defence would be the pairing of Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu as they look to keep things solid at the back on Sunday.

Injury to Pereira means Timothy Castagne will feature in his natural right-back position with Luke Thomas slotting in at left-back after a good showing in the midweek, keeping veteran Ryan Bertrand out of the starting XI. Boubakary Soumare and Wilfred Ndidi could start in the engine room, tracking Watford’s midfield runners and trying to match the opposition’s physicality in order to dominate the proceedings in the middle of the park.

James Maddison came on as a substitute against Chelsea last weekend, but after impressing in the Europa League, he is expected to start against the Hornets, providing the much-needed creative impetus in Youri Tielemans’ absence. The English playmaker can operate in the left-attacking midfielder role alongside Soumare and Ndidi, threading intricate key passes.

Ademola Lookman and Harvey Barnes should start on their respective wing positions, looking to add width and stretch the opposition backline with their dangerous pace and dribbling ability. Jamie Vardy could return in attack despite Patson Daka getting on the scoresheet against Legia. The Zambian striker will likely have to contend with a place on the bench for the Watford game.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3)Schmeichel; Castagne, Evans, Soyuncu, Thomas; Soumare, Ndidi, Maddison; Lookman, Vardy, Barnes

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Watford

Watford boss Claudio Ranieri has some major injury concerns which could have an impact on his team’s performances in the coming weeks. Ismaila Sarr (knee) and Nicolas Nkoulou (hamstring) have been ruled out of the trip to the East Midlands after suffering injuries in last weekend’s 4-1 victory against Manchester United.

Juraj Kucka is back in contention after serving a one-match suspension, while centre-half Christian Kabasele (hamstring) is back in training but is unlikely to play against Leicester. Ken Sema (knee), Francisco Sierralta (hamstring), Kwadwo Baah (ankle) and Peter Etebo (quad) continues to remain sidelined for the Hornets with long-term injuries.

Ranieri would have preferred to field the same side that defeated Manchester United 4-1 the previous weekend, but the Italian is forced into making at least two changes here following injuries to Sarr and Nkoulou. Cucho Hernandez and William Troost-Ekong should come back straight into the starting XI as a result. The Italian coach could persist with a 4-5-1 formation.

Veteran goalkeeper Ben Foster is certain to feature in goal, after the 38-year-old has produced several spectacular displays to keep his side in multiple games. Ranieri could choose to field a back-four consisting of Kiko Femenia, Craig Cathcart, Troost-Ekong, and Adam Masina. Femenia is a creative full-back and has already assisted two goals this term, while Masina would be the pick over Danny Rose.

Imran Louza was a surprise starter in the win last weekend and could keep his place ahead of Juraj Kucka. Partnering him in the centre of the park would be the former Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley and Moussa Sissoko. The midfield trio will look to stop the Foxes’ from dominating possession. Emmanuel Dennis and Cucho Hernandez will operate the flanks supporting the main striker Joshua King.

Probable lineup (4-5-1): Foster; Femenia, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Masina; Dennis, Cleverley, Louza, Sissoko, Hernandez; King

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Key Stats

  • The Foxes have won their last 5 home games against Watford in all competitions and have only lost one of their last 12 home games (W9 D2) against them in the Premier League.
  • Watford have lost ten of their last 12 away Premier League matches.
  • Watford have failed to keep a single clean sheet in their last 20 Premier League games against Leicester City, while the East Midlands outfit have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four home games against Watford in all competitions.
  • Leicester City have failed to score in their last two Premier League matches while conceding five goals. They last went three home league games without scoring a goal in September 1983.
  • Watford have netted the opening goal in only three Premier League games this campaign, but they have won all three of them.

Player to Watch

Emmanuel Dennis

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Watford took a surprise gamble on Emmanuel Dennis when they signed him from Club Brugge on the back of a turbulent loan spell at FC Cologne. Dennis has since proved to be a bargain for the Hornets and appears to have finally found a home at Vicarage Road. The Nigerian has been directly involved in nine goals for Watford this campaign (4G 5A).

His underlying stats are equally impressive, as he is averaging 2.1 shots, 1.2 key passes and 1.5 dribbles per game, offering tremendous pace and creativity to the Hornets frontline. Defensively, he’s not a slouch either as he covers for his flank, admirably shown by his two tackles per game output.

Dennis’ attributes appear to be tailor-made for the Premier League, and the Nigerian international could be even more important for Watford as manager Claudio Ranieri seeks to transform the Hornets into a resilient, tough-to-break and counter-attacking outfit.

Prediction

Leicester City 2-2 Watford

Leicester City have been constantly in and out of form this campaign, with spells of lingering inconsistency becoming a regular narrative. The Foxes will need to win these types of games if they want to contend for the European spots this season.

Meanwhile, Watford will be buoyed by their impressive result against Manchester United, and they will certainly look to capitalise on their recent form under Claudio Ranieri and can well snatch a point at the King Power Stadium on Sunday. Hence, The Hard Tackle predicts a scruffy 2-2 draw with both sides sharing the spoils and adding to Rodgers’ frustration.

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