Location: King Power Stadium, Leicestershire, England
Kick-off time: 3:00 PM GMT, 10:00 AM Eastern, 07:00 AM Pacific
Leicester got just what they needed this past Wednesday.
It came in the form of a 3-0 win over Belgian champions Club Brugge in the Champions League and a realization that they can still to play up to their championship-winning form that was synonymous with the Foxes last season. Now, it’s time to translate that into the Premier League when Leicester hosts Burnley on Saturday at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester’s first-ever Champions League victory seemed to have wiped the slate clean from their recent 4-1 defeat against Liverpool. The two performances we saw from the Foxes this past week couldn’t have been more night and day, and Leicester’s recent victory in Belgium will do wonders for a team that was in the dumps only four days before.
Burnley are a team that Leicester have dominated over the past few seasons, going unbeaten in their last nine matches against the Clarets (9W, 3D). It feels like only yesterday Chris Wood nailed a thunderous 25-footer at Turf Moor to all but secure the Championship title for Leicester, but Burnley are back in the Premier League after a one-year hiatus and have already beat the likes of Liverpool this season — something Leicester could not.
A newly-promoted side in Hull already did opening day damage to the Foxes to start Leicester off unfavorable fashion, so it’s not the right time to switch off and take a side like Burnley lightly. Considering Leicester’s current standing, I hardly doubt this would be the case. Burnley manager Sean Dyche’s side is vastly improved with the likes of Championship Player of the Year Andre Gray and club record signing Steven Defour.
The Foxes have a record signing of their own in striker Islam Slimani, who made his Leicester debut on Wednesday in Bruges and could make his first Premier League appearance this weekend. Shinji Okazaki didn’t dress for Leicester’s midweek Champions League clash despite being fit, so there’s a good chance the Japanese international starts fresh in Claudio Ranieri’s starting XI against Burnley.
One of Leicester’s biggest questions this season will be how Ranieri rotates his lineup to cope with his team’s expanded schedule as midweek games become more of a normality. Wednesday’s only rotations for Leicester from their weekend loss to Liverpool were right back Luis Hernandez for Danny Simpson and Slimani for Okazaki up front, which are two positions that could see a decent amount of rotation this season.
Leicester’s core performers in the defensive duo of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan, midfielders Danny Drinkwater, Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez and striker Jamie Vardy will continue to play big minutes for the Foxes in all competitions. It’s a trend that is expected to continue this weekend for Leicester as they look to battle back to the head of the Premier League table. Daniel Amartey should find a more permanent role in the Leicester midfield, at least until the return of Nampalys Mendy, as the Foxes look to solidify their defense after the departure of N’Golo Kante.
Like we saw last year and the year before with Leicester, it’s amazing what one win can do for this team’s confidence. One win turns into another then you roll on, and that’s exactly the attitude the Foxes need to expand on Sunday against Burnley in front of their home fans.