There was a time when this would not have been considered a particularly stern test.
However, it’s a sign how much the world has turned that Leicester arrive at Villa Park as one of the top sides in the domestic game. They’re in fine form too, with Jamie Vardy firing on all cylinders and a seven game winning run in the league.
Whilst it’s great to back in the big time Premier League, it brings with it too the challenges of facing sides who have the benefit of consolidating their positions in the division. Leicester, former Premier League winners, epitomise how you can build and break into the top echolons of the league, where once it was thought against all odds.
This is an important game for Villa, not least because our home form will be key to our survival, but that despite an excellent win over Newcastle and point at Old Trafford, we are 17th.
This is not a reflection on how we are playing generally, which is a competitive and attractive style. With that said, competitiveness alone will not keep us in the division. We will need to find shock and surprise victories, hopefully starting against Leicester.
To achieve this we might need to rethink the midfield. McGinn has looked leggy of late. Hourihane, despite a fine goal against Newcastle, lightweight. We will need El Ghazi to remain fit and more importantly be consistent. Grealish too will be key, both in terms of his contribution in the final third but avoiding injury too.
This is because our attack, whatever you think of Wesley, simply doesn’t have enough to it. We have no Plan B either. Unless we can create more for the Brazilian, address his isolation and improve his first touch, there will continue to be limited results.
Leicester represent a stern and dangerous opposition to arrive at Villa Park as we look nervously over our shoulders.
We will need to be at our most disciplined, cut out those recurring unforced errors that lead to goals and take what will likely be limited opportunities that come our way.
- Anwar El Ghazi is available after a knee injury forced him off at Man Utd & to miss the Chelsea trip.
- Frederic Guilbert has served a one match ban. He will likely replace Elmohamady at right back.
- Demarai Gray is expected to return after missing two games for the Foxes.
- Leicester are on a SEVEN game winning in the league & EIGHT in all.
- The visitors have also won eleven of their last thirteen under Brendan Rodgers.
- Leicester League Position: 2nd – 35 points.
- Villa League Position: 17th – 15 points.
- Liverpool was Villa’s only home defeat in six at VP.
- However, Villa have surrendered 13 points from winning positions this term.
- Leicester have the best defence across the domestic leagues.
- Jamie Vardy has scored in each of his last 7 starts. He also has 11 in his last 9.
- Vardy has a 100% conversion rate for penalties this season (3)
- Villa have only failed to score once in 10 games.
- Villa fell to a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea midweek. Leicester beat Watford 2-0.
- Villa Form: LLLWDL
- Leicester Form: WWWWWW
- Predicted Villa Side: Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett; Hourihane, McGinn, Douglas Luiz; Trezeguet, Wesley, Grealish
- Predicted Leicester Side: Schmeichel; Ricardo Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi; Ayoze Perez, Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy
- Referee: Michael Oliver
- Kick Off: 2pm (GMT)
- Sources: BBC | Express & Star | Guardian | Leicester Mercury | Stats Zone |
Score Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester – with Grealish and El Ghazi to score.
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