This weekend sees a clash between two Midlands sides as Leicester and Stoke go head-to-head at the King Power Stadium. Both teams sit in the bottom half of the table so points are as valuable as ever, especially for the home side that are in a very dangerous position in the league.
Leicester go into the game bottom, even though they are on a three game unbeaten run including two wins against Hull and Aston Villa. Before this run they had lost six games in a row, which has not helped their cause and left them with an uphill battle for the rest of the season. The Foxes are now three points from safety but will want to continue the good form to give them a fighting chance going in the last quarter of the season.
Stoke come into the game on the back of a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Arsenal but will want to erase that memory as soon as possible and get back to performances which saw them win against Everton and West Brom as well as a draw against Man Utd. They currently sit in 11th, which is comfortable at the moment but their next few fixtures could determine whether they can push into the top half, or be pushed down the league so a positive result will be important away at Leicester.
The two teams have already met this season with Leicester taking the spoils in a 1-0 win at the Britannia Stadium. A solitary goal from Leonardo Ulloa was the difference on the day and will again be an important figure in this match.
Matthew James is ruled out following his red card for serious foul play against Leicester and subsequently miss the next three matches.
Esteban Cambiasso and Daniel Drinkwater are doubts for the weekend alongside Dean Hammond who was substituted in the last game with a calf problem.
Matt Upson and Kasper Schmeichel are still out with foot injuries with Riyad Mahrez now unavailable due to international duty at the African Nations Cup. Jeff Schlupp was also set to play in the tournament but a knee injury has now ruled him out for up to a month.
The Potters will be missing Steven N’zonzi after he suffered a groin injury in the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal. Erik Pieters will also miss out with a similar issue with both of them being subbed at half-time in that game.
Marc Wilson should now be available after returning from injury but striker Mame Diouf, who is on international duty and Peter Odemwingie, who is a long term absentee, are missing from the squad.
- Leicester have tasted defeat just once in their last 25 home games against Stoke City (W9 D15 L1).
- Only Burnley (11) have conceded more headed goals than Stoke City (9) in the Premier League this season.
- Stoke are one of just two teams yet to pick up a red card in the Premier League this season (along with Burnley).
- The Foxes’ win over Aston Villa ended a run of six home league games without a win (D2 L4).
- Only Burnley (7) have conceded more goals from corners than Stoke City this season (6).
Recent Head to Heads
2014/2015 Sat 13 Sep Stoke 0 – 1 Leicester
2013/2014 Sat 04 Jan Stoke 2 – 1 Leicester F.A. Cup
2007/2008 Sun 04 May Stoke 0 – 0 Leicester C’ship
2007/2008 Sat 29 Sep Leicester 1 – 1 Stoke C’ship
2006/2007 Sat 31 Mar Stoke 4 – 2 Leicester C’ship
2006/2007 Tue 31 Oct Leicester 2 – 1 Stoke C’ship
Leicester City: Leonardo Ulloa
With many of Leicester’s key players missing, Leonardo Ulloa is a player that has to step up and get back to the form that he showed at the start of the season. With seven goals this season he has shown that he is capable of being the spearhead of the team when in his best form. However, with only two goals in his last 16 matches in the Premier League, Ulloa will look to be back amongst the goals on a consistent basis or risk losing his place in the team. Although the Argentine striker hasn’t scored many in his last few games, he does provide the clinical threat that most teams need with a conversion rate of 28%, which means that a handful of chances from his team-mates could just result in a bit of joy for the 28-year-old.
Spanish forward Bojan has shown at times this season that he can be a star player for Stoke to help them stay around mid table or possibly get higher, but he will need to find more consistency in order to do so. Bojan would probably like to improve in the goal scoring department with only three goals this season and a shot accuracy of just 39%. However, he adds the creative spark and technical ability that a team like Stoke are craving for, especially with Stoke’s more physical and less technically able players around him, to help provide goals with 26 chances created and 52% of his attempted take ons being successful.
I’m backing an away win for this one. Stoke will want to bounce back from last week’s comprehensive defeat to Arsenal and will want some revenge for the home defeat to the Foxes earlier on in the season. Leicester will do well to go another game unbeaten but if Stoke show up then I can see only one result.
My Prediction – Leicester 0-2 Stoke