Newcastle United 18th (0-2-4) vs Leicester City 9th (3-0-3)
Live from the St. James Park, Saturday at 10 AM ET on NBC Sports Gold
The Magpies had the whole week to work on their approach against the Foxes as they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup in the second round to Nottingham Forest. Leicester newcomer Danny Ward, AKA The Warden, saved three penalties as the Foxes knocked out Wolverhampton.
Newcastle have had a very rough start to their season. Their opening match was against Tottenham, and then went on to face champions Manchester City and the previous season’s winner Chelsea. A home meeting against Arsenal topped off their meetings against the “top six” clubs. Strangely, all of those matches ended in 2-1 defeats. While they may have been glad to get those matches out of the way early, when they’ve played lesser opposition, they’ve only managed 0-0 draws.
Rafa Benitez’s big signing in the summer was Salomón Rondón. On loan from West Brom, he was supposed to leading the charge and scoring the all the goals for his new club. Why Rafa thought he would be that man for him is beyond me, giving his scoring record in the Premier League is quite paltry. His best season was in 15-16 when he scored 9 goals in the league.
Joselu is Newcastle’s actual danger man this year. With three goals from six appearances, he is the one to watch out for. I just hope Rafa throws the dice with Rondón once more and Leicester can build enough of a lead for when Joselu arrives off the bench.
A 3-1 win over Huddersfield was just what the doctor ordered. However the route to get there, was not. Allowing another goal in the first 5 minutes of the match puts extreme pressure on the side to perform. Luckily, Leicester were at home and had the home faithful to cheer them on. It also helped their opponents have been very poor this season.
After the terrible injury to Demarai Gray against Wolverhampton on Tuesday, I think this means we will see a lot more of Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy starting together. Nacho started in just behind Vardy and James Maddison was pushed left, but often they would rotate and let Madders sit in his preferred #10 spot. I hope they were able to work some more on this during the week in training because it could be a very good thing giving Kelechi’s consistency to get in the box and score.
One big question hanging over Leicester is who will start at CB alongside Harry Maguire? With Wes Morgan back from suspension, will that move Johnny Evans to the bench? Apparently Çağlar Söyüncü’s english isn’t good enough to merit a start yet, so I’d imagine he is out of contention.
Another question is who will start at RB? Daniel Amartey had a pretty decent performance, and I’d argue Ricardo’s dropping to the bench was a punishment for his lack of effort to track back in the loss to Bournemouth. Since Ricardo started against Wolves, I’d think he would be on the bench again, but you never do know with Claude Puel.
Leicester need to find some consistency in the early minutes of a match. They’ve been creating good chances and not finishing them. Then you couple that with how weak they’ve been defensively during that period, and you get these funky results. If Leicester can do that on Saturday, they can crack on for a nice 2-0 victory. If not, I think we may see a 0-0 or 1-1 draw.