Having climbed out of the bottom three, Newcastle United will be aiming to put together a strong run of form, but here they face the challenge of coming up against a Leicester City side that is just one point off the top of the Premier League.
They barely ventured out of their own half, but the Magpies were able to claim a vital win over fellow strugglers Bournemouth before the international break thanks to Ayoze Perez’s goal. The Spaniard’s toe-poke came from one of their rare attacks, as they hardly strung a pass together for the majority of proceedings and left Dean Court extremely grateful for the heroics of goalkeeper Rob Elliot, who had been an injury doubt for the game.
The Republic of Ireland international has proved himself a very reliable understudy to first-choice stopper Tim Krul, earning a result which has the potential to give the side a huge psychological boost. A winless run on their travels stretching back to the end of January has been ended, but Head Coach Steve McClaren will be under no illusions that they must perform better if they are to indeed rise up the table. On another day they could have conceded a hatful of goals.
Bournemouth may not have been clinical, but Leicester certainly have been in their rise to an unexpected but not undeserved third place. In Jamie Vardy they have the English football’s most in-form striker, and here he has the chance to equal Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in consecutive Premier League games, having netted in his last nine outings. With his confidence sky-high and his work rate relentless as ever, Vardy would likely punish any faults in the home defence.
The Foxes were made to work hard for their last three point haul against Watford, creating little in a closely contested first hour. But then they were given a helping hand as N’Golo Kante’s shot was spilt into the net by goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes. It was due reward for Kante, who has adapted to the Premier League superbly since his summer move, and though overshadowed by Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, his partnership with Danny Drinkwater has been crucial behind the team’s success.
Elliot should continue in goal for Newcastle despite missing international duty due to a thigh problem. Another goalkeeper, Karl Darlow, may be named among the substitutes.
Vardy is Leicester’s only injury doubt after he missed both England friendlies because of a hip injury.
Played for both – Nikos Dabizas: Signed from Olympiakos in March 1998, the Greek central defender played for Newcastle for six years, suffering defeat in successive FA Cup finals but becoming a crucial part of a side which was qualifying for the Champions League on a regular basis. After 11 goals in 130 league outings he moved to Leicester in January 2004, but was unable to prevent them from going down to the Championship.