Two sides at the opposite of the current Premier League spectrum do battle on Saturday afternoon. Stoke City will play host to high flying Leicester City at the Britannia Stadium. While Leicester City have burst out the traps under new manager Claudio Ranieri, continuing the fine form that kept them in the league last season, their opposition have not had a great start.
Mark Hughes and Stoke had a summer spending spree that felt like a Football Manager or FIFA save coming to life. Acquisitions like Ibrahim Afellay from Barcelona and Xerdhan Shaqiri from Bayern Munich gave the impression Stoke City had placed themselves amongst some of the top flights’ most powerful transfer window operators. However, the results so far in the new season have not reflected the success the transfer window seems to be for the Potters. With 11 points separating the two teams from 2nd place to 18th it should make for an interesting clash. Stoke away is infamously a difficult fixture, but does it hold the same weight as it did under its previous regime? Leicester City look like a side capable beating of most sides at the moment, let alone one that has failed to get off the mark to date in the league. Stoke will want to pick up their first victory of the season for confidence alone, let alone league placement. While the visitors want to continue proving any doubters they have left that they are a Premier League team that most should worry about facing.
The home side’s injury troubles are currently limited. They continue miss key defensive option and team captain Ryan Shawcross. His return date is yet to be confirmed. Ireland international Jonathan Walters also continues to miss out with no return date yet known. Mark Hughes will be hoping that summer signing Glen Johnson is able to stick to his timetable for return. Currently the full-back is scheduled to return from injury soon, possibly in time for a return to the starting 11 for Leicester’s visit if not the match day squad. However, the Potters will continue to be without summer acquisition Ibrahim Afellay for the game on Saturday. The winger’s ban was reduced to 2 games after receiving a red card against West Brom. This means he is still suspended for the game on Saturday,
For Leicester City continuity seems to have been the order of the day. They have continued into the new season as they left off the previous one. Their near empty physio room will be playing a part in that. Right now the only player blighted with injury is long term absentee Matty James. The Leicester City midfielder is still to miss another 5 months before a potential return. Considering their impressive form you cannot imagine many changes being made to the team that has got itself into second place in the Premier League.
- Neither side registered a home victory over the other last season. Both meetings between the sides ended in an away win.
- The two games between the two last season were their first meetings in the Premier League against each other.
- They have clashed 83 times in their histories with not much to separate their record against each other. Stoke City have 29 wins, Leicester City have 28 and the other 26 matches ended in a draw.
- Over the history the home side has usually left victorious when the two have played (apart from last season).
- Leicester City managed a 5-0 victory over Stoke City in the 1923/24 season. That is the biggest victory either has secured over the other.
- Leicester City enter the game second in the table, while Stoke are sat in the relegation zone.
- 11 points separate the two heading into the weekend fixtures.
Top Scorers 2014/15
Stoke City: Mame Biram Diouf (11), Peter Crouch (8), Jon Walters (8)
Leicester City: Leonardo Ulloa (11), Jamie Vardy (5), Esteban Cambiasso (5)
Chances Created 2014/15
Stoke City: Marko Arnautovic (42), Steven N’Zonzi (34), Charlie Adam (33)
Leicester City: Riyad Mahrez (44), Esteban Cambiasso (36), Mathhew James (36)
Avg. Defensive Actions 2014/15
Stoke City: Ryan Shawcross (11), Marc Wilson (8), Erik Pieters (7)
Leicester City: Wes Morgan (11), Marcin Wasilewski (10), Liam Moore (10)
Stoke City: Mame Biram Diouf
Last season Mame Biram Diouf was Stoke City’s top goalscorer with 11 goals. With their poor start to the season apparent for everyone to see they need to get some victories on the board. For that happen they need to start scoring goals. With only 3 goals in their opening 5 matches it is no surprise that the Potters find themselves without a victory yet. Of the 3 goals they’ve netted this term 2 have come from Mame Biram Diouf, so it is again clear he is their main source of goals. Facing a rampant Leicester side on Saturday means that Stoke are going to need goals, because Leicester aren’t shy of a few. Diouf can’t carry all the goal scoring load but he is the man that is their main goal scoring outlet. The former Man United man will be looking for help from his team mates, but it is clear to see that he is the man they need on form in front of goals if they have any hope of getting that elusive first win of the season.
Leicester City: Riyad Mahrez
Heading into the weekend fixture with Stoke, Riyad Mahrez has more goals than the entire Stoke squad combined so far this season. With 4 goals and 2 assists to his name so far this term, Mahrez has wasted little time making sure his sides good form from last year’s run in continues. The Moroccan winger has already created 12 chances for his team in the past 5 fixtures, while in the whole of last season he managed 44. At this rate Mahrez will eclipse that total by some margin. Confidence is important for any player and it is clear that right now Mahrez has plenty. His exploits so early in the season even lead to rumours on deadline day that teams like Arsenal might even try to do a deal for him. With a Leicester squad that is currently firing on all cylinders they are impressive to watch. But, the man who has put himself at the forefront of that great form is Riyad Mahrez and he will be looking to cause Stoke as many problems as he has for all those he has faced this season.
This is usually the type of game I would expect Stoke city grind out and take a 1-0 on home soil from. However, I am excited by what Leicester City are doing at the moment and find it hard to see them being beat by what, to date, has been a unconvincing Stoke side. Stoke need their big hitters to turn up if they are to stop the Leicester City juggernaut rolling through the Britannia.
A back and forth 2-2 draw for me.
Get a home win with Bwin @ 2.40
BetVictor will offer you an away win @ 85/40
There is also Betway who are offering a draw @ 9/4