The first winter break in the history of the English Premier League is over for most clubs and they will have to play this weekend. The opening game between Wolverhampton and Leicester City will take place on Friday.
In this betting preview, I go through the latest team news and analyze both sides, before sharing my prediction in the end.
Many expected to see Wolverhampton improve in the league this season, but I believe that the Europa League engagements have taken their toll on the team. The Wolves had a poor start of the season and struggled to fight on two fronts.
Don’t get me wrong, Wolverhampton is still one of the tougher sides to beat in England and the ninth place in the table is respectable. However, I believe that the club would’ve been involved in the battle for the Top 4 if it wasn’t for the Europa League.
Some of the players have been carrying the load of too many matches since the autumn. Fortunately for the Wolves, they had more than 10 days to rest since the goalless draw against Man United in the Premier League.
I believe we should see a more energized side and the only potential issue is related to Adam Traore’s injury. The forward suffered problems with his shoulder, but I believe he will be back to face Leicester.
If that’s truly the case, the Wolverhampton Wanderers will be refreshed and at full strength which makes them a formidable opponent.
I believe that Leicester City also needed a break after the electric first half of the season. The team has been excellent, but the lack of depth in the squad was on display recently. Defeats against Southampton and Burnley showed that the Foxes are not at their best.
I believe that Wilfred Ndidi’s injury has been a big part of the problem. The midfielder has a special connection with manager Brendan Rodgers and has been vital for the Irishman’s system.
No player can win the ball high up the pitch and distribute as fast as Ndidi. His absence has been felt and he will most likely be out against Wolverhampton too.
On the bright side, the likes of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison should be back stronger than ever after the break.
Betting Odds and Prediction
The bookmakers believe that Wolverhampton is the slight favorite in this one and I can see why. The home advantage and Ndidi’s absence surely boost the hosts’ chances to snatch the victory in this one.
And yet, I find it hard to back them against a Leicester City that should return to the energy levels of the early part of the season.
The goals market is also tough to predict, so I have only one choice left. I believe this match will finish in a draw, so that’s my final prediction. It’s always a risk to go for a tie, but the odds are around 9/4 which would bring a nice return.