Stoke City vs Leicester City: Match preview and predicted line-ups
Stoke City host reigning English champions Leicester City on Saturday afternoon with The Foxes under increasing pressure to halt a poor run of form which has seen them slip dangerously close to the relegation zone.
Claudio Ranieri may have achieved a minor miracle be securing Leicester the Premier League title last season but his side has failed to replicate the heroics of last campaign and sit just four points clear of the drop zone. The impressive 4-2 victory against Manchester City at the weekend was supposed to be a turning point in their season but they were unable to capitalise on any rise in confidence and fell to a mid-week defeat at Bournemouth.
Stoke City continue to maintain their current good run of form and were able to secure a hard-fought point against Southampton on Wednesday despite playing sixty-seven minutes with ten-men following Marko Arnautovic’s sending off. Mark Hughes’ side currently sit in twelfth position in the league table but a win against Leicester could see them climb into the top half and spark a Europa League challenge.
Here is everything that you need to know ahead of Saturday’s clash between The Potters and the reigning English champions.
Mark Hughes celebrated his 400th game as a Premier League manager in mid-week with a goalless draw against Southampton. The Welshman admitted his delight with securing a point, despite playing over two thirds of the contest with ten-men, and the point solidifies Stoke City’s position in the relative safety of mid-table. The Potters have been in god form after making a slow start to the season and have suffered just two defeats in their last eleven league fixtures. Their rise up the table has been based on a solid defensive foundation, with goalkeeper Lee Grant and on-loan central defender Bruno Martin-Indi key components in a back-line that has kept five clean sheets in the last nine matches. The Potters are clear of the relegation zone but remain a considerable way off challenging for a Europa League spot – a victory on Saturday could move them into the top half of the table.
Leicester City have had an unimpressive season so far on the domestic front and have been unable to replicate their title-winning heroics of last year. In Europe the Foxes have had a debut Champions League campaign to remember, qualifying for the knock out stages with relative ease, but sit just four points clear of the relegation zone in the Premier League. They failed to build on their impressive demolition of Manchester City at the weekend and fell to a disappointing defeat in mid-week against Bournemouth. Leicester’s issues revolve around their leaky defence which has kept just one clean sheet in their last fourteen fixtures in all competitions and has conceded a staggering seventeen goals in their last eight matches. The Foxes were unbeaten against Stoke City last campaign, but supporters will still be haunted by their defeat in 2008 which saw them relegated to League One on the last day of the season whilst The Potters celebrated promotion to the Premier League.
Marko Arnautovic, arguably Stoke City’s most effective offensive player, will have to sit out of the contest against Leicester on Saturday after being sent off in mid-week. The Austrian saw red after a clumsy, high tackle when challenging for a bouncing ball near the touchline and his absence will come as a significant blow as Mark Hughes goes in search of the points to push his side into the top half of the table. Mame Biram Diouf is expected to be selected as the stand-in on the left side of The Potters’ front three in Arnautovic’s absence. Stoke are still without long-term absentees Jack Butland, Phil Bardsley, Stephen Ireland and Ibrahim Afellay due to injury although Geoff Cameron is closing in on a return.
Claudio Ranieri sticks almost religiously to his preferred 4-4-2 formation, often deploying a deep-lying striker, and very rarely makes significant changes in his selected starting line-up from game to game. Danny Drinkwater has yet to return from a knee injury picked up three weeks ago and is not expected to be fit enough to be part of proceedings in North Staffordshire, however Kasper Schmeichel could be part of the match day squad after recovering from a fractured hand. The Foxes have no other injury concerns and will be boosted by the return of Danny Simpson who missed the defeat in mid-week due to suspension after accumulating five yellow cards. Simpson is expected to return to the starting eleven at right-back in place of Luis Hernandez who deputised against Bournemouth.
Stoke City Predicted Starting XI
Leicester City Predicted Starting XI
Stoke City will certainly come into the fixture full of confidence due to their current run of good form whilst Leicester continue to struggle in domestic competitions so far this season. A home win is on the cards.
Predicted Score: Stoke City 2, Leicester City 1
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved Alex Hannam (Alex Hannam)
You may also like…
- Report: If 25-year-old doesn’t sign for Arsenal this summer, he’s decided he’s going to leave on a free transfer
- ‘Poor’: Ex-England man slams Arsenal player for his performance against Leicester
- ‘Dropping really deep’: BBC pundit far from impressed with £60m Tottenham and Newcastle target today
- ‘Hardly mentioned his name’: BBC pundit shocked by how bad player Arsenal want to sign was today