Location: bet365 Stadium, Stoke-upon-Trent, England
Kick-off time: 3:00 PM GMT, 10:00 AM Eastern, 7:00 AM Pacific
Leicester fans’ hopes of a turnaround this season were shot down just as fast as they were made on Tuesday after another loss on the road in Bournemouth. The Foxes face their away demons again this Saturday at the bet365 Stadium against Stoke City.
The loss in Bournemouth made it 1 point out of a possible 24 on the road for the champions. Luckily, Burnley are giving us a run for our money in the “who can suck more away from home?” category.
The relatively unchanged side from the club’s 4-2 thrashing of Manchester City (with the exception of Luis Hernandez in at left back for Danny Simpson) made the Cherries look like Barcelona, taking 63% of possession and vaulting themselves to their highest-ever Premier league position of 10th.
The Foxes are once again without Danny Drinkwater and are left to deal with a major lack of performance in the midfield, a problem explained in detail by Jack earlier this week. But the potential (and expected) return of Kasper Schmeichel between the pipes for Leicester could be a welcomed sight. Thanks for trying, Ron.
The 4-4-2 against Manchester City worked wonders due to Pep’s 3-4-3 and its weakness on the wings and quick balls through for Vardy to chase. It showed in his ability to notch a hat-trick after 741 minutes without a goal. The same, however, could not be said against Bournemouth after their defensive line sat deep while Leicester’s midfield and centrebacks had to back-peddle against an attack that wasn’t afraid to run at them.
Ranieri’s inability to inject a change of formation or philosophy into the side and instead leaning on the tried and true one-season championship winning formula has handcuffed the Foxes this season. It’s a broken record. Teams have Leicester figured out, and will continue to do so unless there’s a change of approach or new players are brought in during the January transfer window.
Stoke are an aggressive, physical side who couldn’t take three points from 10-man Southampton on Wednesday. Bojan has been sharp against the Foxes in his career, scoring in his last two appearances against Leicester. Add in Marko Arnautovic up front and Xheridan Shaquiri and leading scorer Joe Allen in the middle and you you have yourself a decent threat on net.
Leicester had one of their strong shows of resiliency in Stoke last season, coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 early in the championship campaign. They could use one again there on Saturday, as a win on the road should be demanded at this point.