Leicester City 8th (9-8-10) vs Stoke City 19th (6-7-14)
Saturday 7:30 AM ET, Live on CNBC from the King Power Stadium
Stoke’s two week vacation comes to an end as they go head on into their relegation fight to face Leicester City.
Stoke crashed out of the FA Cup to Foxes rivals Coventry 2-1 back on the 6th of January and honestly needed the rest to for the momentous task that awaits them. Their last five results in the league have only seen them gain five points. You would have to travel back to October to see the Potters last away win, a 1-0 victory against Watford. Offensively, Stoke have been okay, scoring 27 goals, but their defense is really where they’ve felt the pain this season. The Potters have allowed 53 goals, just three less then they allowed all of last season, which is a solid indication in itself of why they find themselves in 19th.
If there’s one man who deserves a man-marking on Saturday, it is Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss Maestro only has six goals so far this season, but is a constant threat with the ball at his feat. Set piece defending and marking him down the flanks will be crucial in containing the bright winger.
Leicester look like they could break out of their “slump” at any moment. While highlights of the untelevised FA Cup match against Sheffield Untied are sparse, Leicester had the foxes share of possession and chances.
A key cog in the wheel to seventh place is Riyad Mahrez, and I hope he is finally over lack of a transfer move to Manchester City. His assist on the Jamie Vardy header that sent Leicester into the next round of the FA Cup is a good sign. I believe that Claude Puel would bench him at the first sight of anything else and thankfully the Foxes have some depth on the wings should they need it.
Could Jamie Vardy be on the way to breaking his own record? He has scored in four consecutive games and has the momentum to make it to twelve. More importantly, he has the opponents available to do it as well. If he managed it, his 12th goal would be scored against Southampton.
I hope it isn’t another 2-2. That would be such a disappointment. Leicester are safe, but they don’t want to get into that lull that ultimately led to Puel’s sacking at Southampton. A 2-1 victory to the Foxes and a jump back into 7th would be a top weekend.