It feels like a long time since Leicester City were hard luck losers last time out against Liverpool. In the meantime we’ve had an international break that went really really well for the Foxes. They now prepare for a trip to a decent looking Bournemouth side that took six points from their opening two fixtures, but just the one since.
We’ve broken down some of the key areas and individual match ups that could decide the outcome.
1. Left vs Right
During the opening four games, Bournemouth have shown a clear preference for attacking down the right side of the pitch, doing so 41% of the time (2nd most in the league). This should create an interesting contest against the Foxes’ left side, usually consisting of Demarai Gray and new England international Ben Chilwell.
Both young Foxes are among the top 10 in the league for successful dribbles this season, but their propensity for bringing the ball forward can always leave the team a little exposed down that side. With just two clean sheets between them, it’s a fair bet for both teams to score tomorrow, and this could be a key area that both sides will look to attack.
Ryan Fraser is a key man for the home side, with nine key passes so far this year, but the winger is facing a late fitness test over a hamstring problem. If he can’t make it, Leicester may have the advantage here. If he does play, we may see Chilwell running backwards more than forwards, which is never ideal.
2. A settled back four?
Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell are going to be around for a while now, and it looks like they're locked in to start on the left side of the back four. The other half of the pitch has been in a near constant upheaval so far this year, with Pereira and Amartey rotating at RB, while Jonny Evans and Wes Morgan fight for the 2nd CB spot. The lack of continuity and familiarity have created several mistakes and opposition chances already.
That battle gets even more complicated now, as £19m summer signing Çaglar Söyüncü is fit and ready to go. Under previous regimes, there’s no chance the 22 year old Turkey international would have had a look in barring injury or drastic results. Puel, however, seems to have a clear plan (and possibly instructions from above) to trust the youngsters and build for the future. Söyüncü is obviously part of that future and, while Morgan has done well defensively, he stands out like a sore thumb on the ball in this team.
Hopefully Puel has now had enough time to decide on a defence and we can see them start to settle down and play as more of a unit over the next few weeks.
3. Will Vardy be rusty?
For all the promise we’ve shown in attack, few teams have been as bad at getting the ball into the box as Leicester, who’ve taken a astounding 64% of their shots from further than 18 yards. That stat tops the league and it’s not particularly close.
Kelechi Iheancho failed to impress in Vardy’s absence, so I’d expect the former England man to start. He still hasn't managed a full 90 minutes this year though and, after a three match ban and an international break, he could be a tad rusty. If his service continues to be as few and far between, the team simply can’t afford to spurn any chances. A sharp Vardy could easily be the difference in this one.