If struggling Stoke City are to earn their much-needed first Premier League win of the season, they will have to break the seemingly unquenchable momentum of Leicester City, who currently lie in the lofty territory of second place.
After a summer of high-profile signings and a tangible sense of optimism, the home side are really struggling to get their campaign going, with several powder puff displays characterised by a general lack of a goal threat; surprising given that they now possess the creative talents of Xherdan Shaqiri among others. Captain Ryan Shawcross has been injured and midfielder Steven N’Zonzi was a big loss over the summer, but the depth to the squad should be enough to compensate.
Indeed, goalkeeper Jack Butland has been the only player to emerge with significant credit from this unexpectedly poor start. A series of stupendous saves from the England international preserved a point at Norwich City, while only his contribution prevented a defeat by an embarrassing margin at Arsenal in their last game. This really must be the time for the Potters to lift themselves, as they are clearly full of quality.
There was no indication during the first half at home to Aston Villa on Sunday that Leicester would emerge on top in sensational circumstances, a sense that was only added to by the concession of what looked a demoralising second goal on the hour. But the belief is there in abundance and that was on show again as the Foxes hit the net three times in the last 18 minutes to seal a remarkable victory and continue their excellent start under Claudio Ranieri.
Though he did not score himself, it was the increasingly talismanic Riyad Mahrez who inspired the recovery with a display full of inventiveness and trickery, while Nathan Dyer wasted no time in proving that the club’s decision to bring him in on loan was an astute one, bravely heading home the winner to cap a fine contribution as a half-time substitute. They head into this one with great confidence, and can always rely on a never-say-die attitude.
The home side are likely to be without Mame Biram Diouf, but Bojan Krkic could be ready for his first start in the league since January. Charlie Adam and Ibrahim Afellay are both suspended.
There are no new injury concerns for Leicester, with Dyer available despite a heavy collision in the act of scoring the winner against Villa.