Having crashed out of the FA Cup in midweek, Leicester City will be looking to return to winning ways when they take on Stoke and at the same time keep their unlikely title bid alive. The Potters extended the bright run of results by holding Arsenal to a goalless draw and now hope to put a dent into the Foxes’ title hopes as well.
There is less than four months left until the end of the current Premier League campaign and Leicester City are still very much in the title chase, sitting level on points with leaders Arsenal. The Foxes missed several excellent opportunities to pick up few more points, having failed to beat ten-man Bournemouth and squandering a one-goal lead against Aston Villa, with star winger Riyad Mahrez missing a penalty in each of those games. But, the mere fact that Leicester now have a reason to regret not winning at venues like Villa Park shows just how far they have gone this season. It is clear that the team are on a minor downtrend, having scored mere four goals in last seven games, with both Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez struggling for form. The FA Cup loss to Spurs is unlikely to prove a major issue with Claudio Ranieri having fielded a second-string side, but his out-of-form forwards could find it hard to break very good Stoke City side on Saturday afternoon.
After resting a number of key men in midweek, Claudio Ranieri will revert to his strongest side for the high-profile clash against Stoke City.
The Italian manager now has fully fit squad to select from, with Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki expected to start up front.
Stoke have been making steady progress ever since Mark Hughes took over the reigns from Tony Pulis and the Potters appear on track to become a genuine top 6 side. The Britannia Stadium outfit have started attracting some high-profile footballers to the club and they are now reaping rewards of the ambitious transfer strategy. Following a slow start to the season, Stoke hit the ground running in mid September, with the excellent run starting after they had squandered a two-goal lead to share spoils with their next opponents. The Potters have been quite impressive ever since, defeating the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd at Britannia, while beating Southampton and Everton on the road. Mark Hughes’ charges recovered well from back to back defeats to West Brom and Liverpool to secure their progress to the FA Cup fourth round, before the 3-1 triumph over Norwich and goalless draw with Arsenal ensured they remained close to Champions League positions. The team appear to be playing with a great deal of confidence at the moment and we are backing them to put a dent into Leicester’s title hopes.
Mark Hughes is sweating over the fitness of Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic (both hamstring), but there is a chance both will start at King Power Stadium.
There has been no important updates on the status of Shay Given, Stephen Ireland and Geoff Cameron, who all miss the trip to Leicestershire.
Key Factors to Consider
- Leicester came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw in a reversed fixture
- Stoke recorded a 1-0 win in their last match at King Power Stadium
- The Foxes won just one of last seven meetings with the Potters (D3 L3)
- Leicester failed to score in four of last seven fixtures
- Stoke won two of last three games on the road on all fronts
With Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez misfiring at the moment and the busy schedule slowly taking its toll on Leicester City, we are not prepared to back the Foxes to return to winning ways. Stoke City have done really well of late and they can be trusted to bring at least one point to Britannia.
Verdict: Stoke not to lose
Best Odds: 3/4