Both these clubs would have expected to be fighting relegation this season, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for Leicester, who have been a revelation. They are very much in the title race and will be pleased that their tough run of games is over as they will now target the next few matches for maximum points. Norwich have been very poor defensively and are in a perilous position, outside the bottom three on goal difference alone. Newcastle don’t play this weekend, which gives the Canaries a chance to capitalise and move away from their relegation rivals.
Leicester are still top of the league, but Arsenal and Tottenham are both within striking distance, which makes matches like these important for Leicester as they could push clear. The duo of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have been excellent for the table toppers this season, but the performances of N’Golo Kante have really set the foundations for the sides success. Claudio Ranieri will know that his side have a great chance of winning the league this season, and it would be his first league title as a manager. There is no pressure on Leicester going into the run in and that could be a real advantage as the side can continue to play freely, without the expectation that exists at Arsenal or Manchester City.
This week it has surfaced that Alex Neil’s job is likely to remain safe for the foreseeable future, which is really good to see as clubs can get jumpy, especially with the money on offer in the top flight. However, Neil appears to be the right man to lead Norwich forward, even if the club are relegated in May. They are going to play twice before Newcastle play again, which could either be a good thing or a bad thing. If they lose both matches, then they will likely be in the bottom three and things will be looking very difficult for them.
In the earlier meeting this season, Leicester won the match 2-1, with goals from Jamie Vardy and Jeff Schlupp. The goal for Norwich came from Dieumerci Mbokani, but it wasn’t enough to get the club back into the game.
Jeff Schlupp is getting closer to a return from a hamstring injury and could be back for the next match. Matty James is likely to be missing for a longer period of time, and may not return this season. Danny Simpson is suspended after his sending off against Arsenal.
Andre Wisdom could be considered for selection after his knee injury. Mbokani could start after Jerome has been disappointing recently.
- Leicester haven’t lost to a side in the bottom half of the table all season.
- Norwich have only won one league match in 2016, highlighting their poor form which puts them amongst the favourites for relegation.
Riyad Mahrez is a contender for player of the year and has been linked with Barcelona and Arsenal in recent days. He has had a breakthrough this season and has outperformed the likes of Eden Hazard and David Silva on a consistent basis. It is matches like these that Mahrez should be dominating and winning crucial points for Leicester in their title chase. The Algerian has managed to score 14 goals and has 10 assists, making him the first player to the ten goal and assist mark this season. This shows his quality in the final third, and he has scored goals against big clubs, which shows that he can go on to play at a higher level. Leicester are likely to be playing in the Champions League next season and Mahrez is one of the few players at the club who should make the step up comfortably. Norwich have been vulnerable at the back in recent weeks and the skill of Mahrez should cause them a lot of problems.
Steven Naismith was a shrewd signing for Norwich as he gets in good positions in the final third and he could score the goals to fire the club to safety. Alex Neil knows the forward well from his time at Rangers and he will know exactly what he offers. He already has one goal since his move from Everton, while he will be hoping to get at least five or six more before the end of the season. The Scotsman’s strength is his movement in the final third. He doesn’t have a great amount of pace or strength, but his ability to get into dangerous positions will cause Leicester problems. Moreover, his experience in the top flight will be invaluable in the run in, especially if they continue to be firmly in the relegation fight. His ability to work hard defensively will be very important on Saturday, with Leicester being one of the best attacking sides in the league.
Leicester have been excellent recently and should easily dispose of Norwich, who have been very poor at the back. Simpson missing could be a big loss, and disrupt the excellent understanding in the Leicester back four. Norwich need to start picking up points or they could be cut adrift as the likes of Sunderland and Newcastle have been getting results recently. Leicester’s dynamic attacking play should be too much for Norwich and I expect them to win by at least two goals.
Leicester 3-1 Norwich