It will be an intriguing night at the King Power Stadium as Leicester City aim to maintain their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League against Newcastle United, who have recruited Rafael Benitez to lead them to safety.
Having looked on as the North London derby ended favourably in a draw, there was an expectation on Leicester that they would take full advantage by winning at Watford and they did not disappoint as Riyad Mahrez’ fine shot from the edge of the penalty area proved to be enough for the three points. Claudio Ranieri’s men are now very much the favourites to win the title, but at no time have they looked as if they are feeling the weight of expectation, which is a testament to the mentality of the squad.
They knew what to expect from Watford, but this one will have been a tricky one to prepare for in light of the recent developments on Tyneside, so the Foxes could be in for a surprise here. However, they certainly have the edge in terms of confidence and the form of key players, while the last two meetings between the sides have ended in convincing 3-0 wins in their favour. And here, the tireless duo of N’Golo Kante and Shinji Okazaki will give the visitors no time to settle into this match.
It has been a relegation battle from the word go this season for Newcastle, but the manner of their defeat to Bournemouth last time out was a step too far for everybody concerned as the team lacked effort, intensity and seemingly a desire to perform on behalf of themselves, let alone the viewing public. Although he officially kept his job until Friday, Head Coach Steve McClaren was a dead man walking for much of the week and his sacking – though regrettable – was always on the cards.
There are still plenty of things wrong at the club that filters down right from top, but they have exceeded themselves by bringing in Benitez for the remainder of the campaign. It was a surprise that the Magpies were able to attract the Spaniard, but he will be aware that results are needed sooner rather than later if they are to survive, and the squad is certainly good enough to achieve that provided that they show the commitment. It will be very interesting to see how they go about their business here.
Leicester have no new injury problems to contend with, meaning that their only absentee remains midfielder Matt James.
Defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Paul Dummett are out for Newcastle, who are waiting on the fitness of Papiss Cisse, Yoann Gouffran and Chancel Mbemba.
Last Meeting: The hosts took the lead inside the opening minute and never looked back as they continued their march clear of danger with a 3-0 win over plummeting Newcastle, who ended with nine men. Leonardo Ulloa headed in from a corner after just 38 seconds before Wes Morgan made it two with a close range finish, with Ulloa completing a fine afternoon for Leicester from the penalty spot shortly after half-time. Defenders Mike Williamson and Daryl Janmaat were both sent off for second bookable offences to complete a miserable day for the away side.
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