Leicester City will be kicking off the Premier League on Friday night, against Arsenal at the Emirates. It could be a great opportunity for the newest incarnation of the Foxes to showcase their ability on a big stage.
After an impressive summer of recruitment, and with a manager in permanent charge for the first time, there are plenty of questions about exactly how the team will look.
The newly expanded team here at the Fosse Posse have put forward the teams that we’d send out and...it would be fair to say we’re already on the same page.
Shane Evans: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs; Mahrez, Ndidi, Iborra, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy
Can’t see too many surprises in the XI for the first week of the season against Arsenal. The biggest ‘surprise’ would be Vicente Iborra and Wilfred Ndidi partnering in central midfield. With Danny Drinkwater’s injury possibly keeping him out of matchday one (as well as the transfer speculation about a move to Chelsea), Leicester’s two big central midfielders will hold down the middle of the park. Nothing unusual anywhere else on the pitch, however.
Jake Lawson: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs; Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy
Maguire will be the only new arrival in the starting lineup with James starting in Drinkwater’s stead. The only question I have is whether Mahrez will be handed the start ahead of Demarai Gray, and I've gone back and forth on this one. Surely the Alegerian will be showcased for Arsene Wenger; the question is with it will be in a starting role or a cameo off the bench.
Russell Horton: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs; Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy
Shakespeare will stick with the tried and true 4-4-2 and mostly the usual suspects to start the season. I think he'll start Mahrez both to use him while we have him and to allow him to show potential suitors what he has to offer, though I wouldn't be shocked if Gray started in his place. I think James has earned a start, and Iborra will be used as a substitute to possibly change up the formation in the second half as needed.
Matt Cook: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs; Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy
Who Shakey starts in midfield is the only big unknown. Should Mahrez be on the bench, or even out of the squad, we'll know he's gone, which would push Marc to the right and Gray to the left. The other outlier I see is who plays next to Wilfred? James has looked good, and I think Iborra will get there, but with Drinkwater out our two midfielders with Prem experience are Amartey and King. King will certainly be on the bench, but with Amartey spending most of pre-season at right back, it's gotta be James. Back five will be standard, but if Fuchs dips in form, Chillwell will take his spot and could prove difficult to get it back from.
Michael Franca: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs; Albrighton, Ndidi, Iborra, Gray; Okazaki, Vardy
Jack Lee: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton; Gray, Vardy
I did think I’d be defending my James selection, but his impressive preseason seems to have won plenty over. My other concern was working two young stars into the lineup; Chilwell is the simplest solution, but Gray is more complicated. The natural fit would be to take Mahrez’s place, but if he’s here, he should play. Instead I’m putting Gray down the middle, where he had plenty of success with the England under 21s.
Shakespeare’s been here so long, I think we all have a good idea of what’s likely to happen. That’s why we’ve all gone for the 4-4-2 and it’s reflected in the three total differences across eleven positions.
Add in the injuries to Huth and (probably) Drinkwater, Iheanacho’s lack of fitness and short preseasons for Gray and Chilwell and there’s not many decisions left to make.
So there’s out lineup, let us know what you think.