Leicester City put it all together last weekend in a very positive display against Tottenham Hotspur. The form continued in the week as the Foxes comfortably put Luton Town away in the cup ahead of their clash with Newcastle United on Sunday. Here are some areas the game could be decided.
1. Keep an eye on Hayden
Newcastle have been pretty inept going forward so far, with just four goals and 4.25 xG, both league lows. Impressively, more than a quarter of those expected goals were assisted by key passes from just one player - Isaac Hayden’s 1.25 xA is better than any Leicester player so far.
If you think that’s strange, those came from just four passes. For reference, our 1.29 xG against Tottenham came from 16 attempts. Hayden has created the same quality of chances with just four short passes.
Obviously, just 4 chances created through 6 games is not exactly deadly form. What it does show though is an ability to pick the best option when he does get into those areas.
Based on the style and form of both teams, it’s likely that the Magpies wont be creating a high volume of chances, so they’ll have to make the most of them. While we’re throwing men forward, it’s probably worth keeping an eye on this man.
2. Albrighton on the right
Whether it’s been Demarai Gray, Dennis Praet or former Magpie Ayoze Perez, the Foxes have been struggling for production on the right wing. It might be time to turn to old faithful.
At his best, Pereira provides such great attacking play from RB that we can get by with a little less from midfield. However, he might find himself pushed further back against a Newcastle side who have made 43% of their attacks down their own left.
Albrighton’s always stellar defensive effort will help to shut down their favourite route of attack, and should free up arguably our most talented wide player to run at their defence.
As a genuine winger, who will always look to hug the touchline and go outside his fullback in possession, Albrighton also makes a great foil for Ricardo, who often does his best attacking work cutting inside.
3. Filling the Maddison void
James Maddison has been all but ruled out, a real blow for a team who had finally figured out how to run the game through him. The Foxes have a number of replacement options and the current favourite seems to be moving Ayoze Perez inside.
The Spaniard has performed best as more of a secondary striker than a winger in the past. It’s certainly the most attacking option, but would alter the existing shape, which at its best has relied on the partnership between Maddison and Youri Tielemans, rather than a set number 10.
If Brendan Rodgers wants to continue that plan, his best bet might be to go with Dennis Praet, as he did midweek. The two know each other well and the team looked good, albeit against Championship opposition, while Tielemans showed he could take on the creative responsibility.
Talking of systems that Rodgers has gone to before, I have to point out that Hamza Choudhury is always an option. He’s a good midfielder and we haven’t seen him play with 2 genuine wingers this year, but I think most fans would like to see more ambition at home against a weaker opponent.