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Match Preview: Leicester City @ West Brom

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A bandaged squad steps into the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Leicester City Training Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

Sept. 13, 2 p.m. BST, 9 a.m. ET

Leicester City is set to kick off its Premier League season on Sunday when it travels to the Hawthorns to take on newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion. The Foxes will look to launch the 2020-21 campaign on the front foot after a turbulent close to the 2019-20 season.

West Brom

The Baggies are making their return to the English topflight after two seasons in the Championship. The team put together a strong 2019-20 campaign, finishing second in the Championship with a record of 22 wins, 17 draws and just seven losses, the fewest in the division. West Brom finished the season with 77 goals scored, tied for second in the Championship, and 45 goals conceded, the third-best defensive tally in the division.

Sheffield United v West Brom - Sky Bet Championship - Bramall Lane
Leicester’s own Harvey Barnes on loan with the Baggies in the Championship not long ago.
Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

The team was led by a committee of goal-scoring forwards headlined by veterans Charlie Austin and Hal Robson-Kanu, along with young Brazilian export Matheus Pereira. The trio, all of whom remain with the club entering the new season, combined for a total of 29 goals across all competitions. Pereira, meanwhile, led the division with 16 assists.

Leicester City

The Foxes are seemingly limping into the new season. City enters 2020-21 with a host of injured players and just one reinforcement. Brendan Rodgers’ men stormed to a remarkable start to the 2019-20 Premier League season, reaching as high as second in the table. One pandemic, corresponding season stoppage, and several injuries later, and Leicester’ seemingly insurmountable lead on the challengers for a Champions League place was...surmounted. Still, a fifth-place finish with the fourth-best goal differential in the league, and a Europa League spot would have been welcomed results prior to the season.

The off-season, however, has seen the departure of academy graduate Ben Chilwell and continued absences of many of the team’s stars through injury. While the transfer window cavalry was expected to come in and bolster the squad, the Foxes have added just one player in Timothy Castagne. Though a right-footed player seems an odd replacement at left back, the versatility of both the new man and second-year Fox James Justin could fill the void at the position.

Heading into Sunday’s match, Leicester could be without as many as six players that could reasonably have slotted into the starting lineup, with the absences of Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, and Filip Benković confirmed. Mercifully, James Maddison, Christian Fuchs, and Wes Morgan have at least returned to training following lengthy injury absences.

Prediction

The Foxes won’t look sharp, but they’ll do enough. The team stumbled through preseason unconvincingly and injuries continue to be a concern, but the team will defend well enough to eke out a 0-1 win over West Brom. The hosts will be haunted by former loanee Harvey Barnes, who will serve as a difference maker for Leicester City, helping guide the patchwork side to three points to open the season.