Leicester City vs Everton
TV: Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Football
The ‘Super Sunday’ clash at the King Power looked set to be an encounter of the two manager-less sides in the Premier League.
Yet after Wednesday’s arrival of French manager, Claude Puel, Leicester are the ones facing a caretaker manager in David Unsworth, who has registered his interest in the Everton job full time.
Since the departure of Craig Shakespeare, Leicester have enjoyed two wins from two against Swansea in the Premier League and Leeds in the Carabao Cup respectively. Michael Appleton took charge for these victories and will remain assistant manager to Claude Puel at the Foxes. As for Everton, the removal of Ronald Koeman came after their rather lack-lustre performance against Arsenal in a 5-2 drubbing last Sunday. The sacking was inevitable according to many. Unsworth’s first game in caretaker charge came on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge where the team suffered a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.
Surprisingly to many, Sundays fixture at the King Power Stadium is highly considered at this early stage of the campaign as a relegation battle; with Everton sitting in the relegation zone on 8 points and their counterparts, Leicester, in 13th with 9 points to their name. A win for Everton would give the fans and the players a considerable boost and would give the new manager a platform to build on, that is assuming a new manager will be found by this time next week. However, Claude Puel will be desperate for a win to eliminate some early criticism towards him. Many have recalled his defensively questionable tactics and the low goal scoring rate during his time at Southampton and he will certainly be looking for a confident and victorious performance from his players.
Puel could have some selection dilemmas for the upcoming fixture. Leicester produced a sturdy performance against Championship side Leeds to advance to the final 8 of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday. Particularly impressive were Daniel Amartey, Islam Slimani and £25million signing, Kelechi Iheanacho. With the latter producing his first goal for Leicester as well as an assist for Slimani and Amartey putting in a phenomenal shift at right back, Puel may find himself scratching his head with regards to his starters on Sunday. It can’t be forgotten about the impressive display in Wales last weekend too and it’s fair to say there will be many looking for a starting place in Puel’s first team sheet.
After vice chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha claimed Puel was the perfect fit and his knowledge of the team and his players made him the perfect candidate, the pressure will be on the Frenchman straight away in Leicester and he is certainly in a city with high expectation.
David Unsworth stated he was ‘excited’ about working with the Everton players after seeing his team’s commitment and fighting spirit displayed against Chelsea during the week. Five changes were made to the team against Chelsea and it will be interesting to see how Unsworth uses his wide array of talent to his disposal. Replacing Lukaku was a mind-boggling blunder on Koeman’s behalf and it will be fascinating to see how the caretaker uses his attacking force of Rooney, Calvert Lewin, Sigurdsson and Klassen alongside the abundant availability of centre midfielders while using potential wing backs in Baines and Kenny to produce goals on Sunday. What will be particularly intriguing is to see the use of tactics Unsworth’s undertakes with his defence to deal with the non-stop Okazaki, the blistering pace of Jamie Vardy or the height and strength of Slimani and Ulloa.
Morgan Schneiderlin is a doubt for the upcoming fixture after falling ill this week but the return of James McCarthy against Chelsea, where he played 64 minutes gives Unsworth a massive boost going into Sunday’s fixture. Aaron Lennon also made his return during the week and produced a solid performance and will be pushing for a recall to the Premier League side.
Seamus Coleman (leg), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Ross Barkley (groin) and Yannick Bolasie (knee) remain long term absentees for Unsworth’s side.
Score Prediction: 2-2 – The fixture is bound to produce goals and I think both managers would be happy to settle for a point.
Written by Eamon Kitching.