After three months without competitive club football, the Premier League returns this weekend and Leicester City will start their tenure in England’s top flight by welcoming Everton to the King Power Stadium.
Nigel Pearson’s side won the Championship in style last season and will hope for more of the same in their bid for survival this year. They have made several new signings in an effort to properly prepare the squad for the demands of the Premier League, including the club record signing of Leonardo Ulloa from Brighton.
Everton had a great season under Roberto Martinez in his first year in charge, only narrowly missing out on Champions League football to Arsenal at the end of last season. The club have been bolstered by the contract extension of Ross Barkley and the permanent signings of Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku, and will hope that this will spur them on to qualify for Europe’s premier competition come the end of the season next May.
Take a Punt
If you fancy a punt on this opening game then why not look at Tailorbet? At the moment, they are offering odds of 1.74 that Romelu Lukaku will attempt more shots than David Nugent, compared with odds of 2.43 if you think the Leicester player will come out on top. The stats are slightly in favour of Lukaku, he averaged 3.27 shots a game last season compared to Nugent’s 3.09. You can find out more about the bet at http://goo.gl/w1eCwq.
Leicester will be without the services of new signings Marc Albrighton and Matthew Upson, who are suffering with hip and foot injuries respectively. Jamie Vardy has been struggling with a thigh injury but may yet be fit in time for Saturday.
Brian Oviedo is still recovering from the broken leg he suffered last season and there has been no word as of yet about when we will see him return to action for Everton. Seamus Coleman faces a late fitness test after struggling with an ankle injury and this game may just come too early for him.
- Leicester are making their first appearance in the Premier League after a decade-long absence from the top flight.
- Leicester have already played Everton in pre-season albeit with weakened teams, winning the match 1-0.
- Three of the last five promoted teams to play at home on the first day of the Premier League season have lost their matches.
- Everton drew 2-2 away to Norwich City on the opening day of last season.
- The last time they won an away game on the opening day of the season was against Charlton in 2001.
- Everton have played Leicester 16 times previously in the Premier League, winning four and losing one.
David Nugent was arguably Leicester’s main attacking threat in the Championship last season and his manager will hope that he can continue his form in the Premier League. The forward played in all of Leicester’s games last season and scored 20 goals in the process. According to Squawka.com, he attempted 110 shots at goal, of which 54% were on target. He also managed to create 69 chances for his team mates, 12 of which resulted in assists for him. He was also accurate with 75% of his passes but only won a third of the duels he attempted. It will be interesting to see how Nugent copes with the demands of the Premier League but at the age of 29 he is in his prime and therefore can’t be taken lightly by Everton on Saturday.
Barkley showed why he is one of England’s most highly rated young players with his performances last season and Everton fans will undoubtedly be looking forward to seeing how he further develops this year. In 34 league appearances for the Toffees last season, he scored six goals from midfield. According to Squawka.com, this was from 50 shots overall with an accuracy of 38%. He managed to create 25 chances for his team mates, however he was unable to make any assists in the league. His passing was very impressive last season and he finished the year with an accuracy of 85% in this respect. He also showed a strength that is not often seen in young players, especially in midfield, winning 58% of his duels. Barkley will undoubtedly be one of the mainstays of Everton’s midfield again this season and will surely be aiming to put in a big performance against Leicester.
Leicester may have already defeated Everton in pre-season but they both fielded weakened teams and so this can’t be taken as a serious reflection of the strengths of both sides. However, I do expect Leicester to give a very good account of themselves in the game against Everton and kick off their campaign with a 1-1 draw.